At the Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, Ariz., guests find healing in the water. The resort’s 11,000- square-foot Aquatic Center features three Watsu pools, a cross-training pool with conditioning equipment, two aquatic therapy pools and a whirlpool. There is also a complete Water Workout Station and it is making a big splash with guests.
“Water is the wave of the future,” said Karma Kientzler, an aquatic therapy expert and outside consultant for Canyon Ranch in Tucson. “People are using their bones and joints to such excess that water will become the means for most people to stay healthy. It is a means to life enhancement and enrichment, especially in a spa and health care environment.”
The Aquatrend, a scientifically designed piece of stainless steel equipment, was installed at Canyon Ranch about 10 years ago to help take the “work” out of workouts, Kientzler said. It makes working out a pleasurable experience, especially for those suffering from arthritis, knee and hip replacement or sports injury recovery. The power of water has become an integral part of spa relaxation and rejuvenation — it’s a healer, a stress reducer, and an amenity that everyone can enjoy regardless of age or physical condition,” she said.
For the physically challenged or non-swimmer, water exercise is safe because there is always something nearby to hold onto.
On the flip side, those who are more fit or who are interested in the resistance benefits from ‘Aquacise’ or aqua therapy can use a water workout station to work isolated body areas to lose weight and inches, and to facilitate aerobic and anaerobic training. It provides the basic exercise everyone needs to strengthen cardiovascular and respiratory systems while building strength and endurance.
‘The Value of Aquatic Exercise’
According to the Aquatic Exercise Association, Aquatic fitness is defined as activities performed in the water that promote and enhance physical and mental fitness. Aquatic fitness is typically performed in a vertical position in shallow or deep water. There are numerous applications to appeal to a wide variety of participants.
Here’s how it works… and why it works. Water buffers the body from gravity and makes a person virtually weightless when they are totally submerged. When a person’s head is out of the water, he or she weighs approximately 10 percent of normal body weight. Therefore, exercising in the water offers protective cushioning that land-based exercise cannot.
Researchers tell us that exercise injuries are usually related to impact. Every time a person’s foot comes in contact with the floor, impact occurs. Because a person weighs so much less in the water, the impact on the body is reduced. Water has the same advantages to toning as it does in cushioning. In order to get muscles in shape or “toned,” a person has to work against something. On land, a person fights gravity, but water limits the effect of gravity on the body.
Aquatics: ‘Hard to Resist’
Mike Jandzen, Aquatics Director at the Sea Colony Resort in Bethany Beach, Delaware, who is responsible for managing water fitness programs at the property’s 12 pools and fitness center, said hardcore athletes are drawn to exercising in a gym because they prefer a more gravitational type of resistance for muscle toning and strength training. However, Jandzen said he is seeing more and more interest in the property’s aquatics programs, such as water aerobics and water exercise, because they can be enjoyed by young and old alike and offer cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and muscle toning while greatly reducing the impact on muscles and joints.
“Over the past several years we’ve seen aquatics becoming the exercise vehicle of choice,” he said. “We’ve had a water exercise unit in our aqua therapy pool for many years, and it’s constantly in use. Our senior guests enjoy it for therapy as well as for strength training and muscle toning. The water aspect makes it low impact. It’s easy to use, easy on joints and easy on muscles because buoyancy relieves the demands placed on all body parts.”
Every time a person gets into the pool, he or she is losing weight from the resistance that water provides, noting that the resistance of water is 12 times that of air. When exercising in water, the body still creates extra heat because muscles are being used. However, the body has a much easier time transferring your exercise heat to the water than it does to the air. The result is a workout that immediately feels refreshing and cool, and not hot and soggy from sweat.
A quality Water Workout Station provides Body Sculpting exercises, including standing squats, lateral pull ups, hanging leg pulleys, closed-grip pull ups, forward dips, single knee extensions/curls, leg diamonds, abdominal press, reverse abdominal and straight abdominal curl. Cardio Circuits provide 13 exercises, including: squat and lift, reverse lunge, chin ups, cardio-sprint, single bicep curls, body swings, cardio bobbing jumping jacks, single knee tucks, seat push ups, cardio-seated bicycle, oblique reach, reverse leg pull-downs and cardio-seated bicycle. There is also a Power Circuit, which incorporates aerobic and muscular conditioning, including: lat pull up/body swing combo, closed grip pull-up/reverse curl combo, cardio hurdles, reverse dip abductor/adductor cross combo, hanging curl-skate kick combo, cardio-cross country ski, body pike push-up combo, cardio seat down sprinting, straight curl-alternating elbow and cardio – seat down leg flurries.