Add a summer boost to your winter workout while maintaining a low impact workout, burning a whole lot of calories and increasing your flexibility and cardio endurance.
Nothing marks the beginning of summer quite like cracking open the swimsuit drawer and inhaling the smell of sunscreen and chlorine. This winter, even as the sun seems to set at noon and the paths where you used to bike and run glaze over with snow or ice, you can still add a summer burst to your winter workout by using an indoor pool. Best of all, water workouts are low-impact, injury-preventing calorie scorchers. What’s not to love? Here’s our guide to using a pool to stay fit this winter, including exercise options, tips, tricks and gear. And, yes, all pools mentioned are inside and heated.
NOT YOUR GRANDMA’S WATER AEROBICS
First of all, forget everything you think you know about water aerobics. As Marge Paquet, morning fitness instructor at South Oakland YMCA, points out, most people envision “a bunch of elderly women walking around in the pool and waving their arms around.” Far from it. Water aerobics offers a complete workout whether you’re 16 or 80. Water offers 12-14 percent more resistance than air, making it a good muscle toner. It also increases flexibility and cardio endurance.
“Marge is a great instructor and gives them a great workout, so when they come to classes, especially those who haven’t done aqua aerobics before, they’re shocked, like, ‘Oh, this is a really good workout. I’m burning calories and I’m essentially sweating in the water,’” said Alexis Townsend, aquatics manager at the South Oakland YMCA. “They come out; they feel sore; they love the enthusiasm of the instructor and want to come back.”
Water workouts are not only growing in popularity, but in options as well. HITT, Pilates, Zumba and boot camp all have aquatic counterparts. In the Detroit Metro area, you can sign up for classes at any of the YMCA Detroit locations, Beverly Hills Club, Fitness Works and Franklin Athletic Club. While group fitness classes inspire and motivate some, others prefer working out solo. Royal Oak Middle School, Wayne State and Adams Butzel Complex offer open swim, perfect for hitting the lap lane or orchestrating your own workout sequence.
“One of the most important things is to get into the water with a plan,” said Geo Woodman, a local swim and fitness instructor. “Even if that plan is swimming as many laps as you can with two minutes in between, that’s a plan. It’s also always better to find a coach and a group.” Woodman leads swim classes at Detroit Body Garage. Since the West Village gym is housed in what was once the Detroit Savings Bank, they take their Go Bold Swim classes to the nearby Coleman Young Rec Center, which also offers free swim.
Efficient swimming starts with proper technique. A self-professed technique nerd, Woodman works with his students on moving in a straight line, reducing drag and creating small, but powerful kicks.
Whatever workout populates your agenda, you’re going to want a swimsuit, goggles and some gear. “You’re going to want a suit that is chlorine-resistant and fits properly to decrease drag, a good pair of goggles and some fins to help with balance during drills or a long swim,” said Laura Whitehead, general manager of Making Waves. Whitehead has worked at the Michigan-based retailer since its inception two years ago. Making Waves has a location in Royal Oak off 11 Mile Road.
“Trying on is key!” Whitehead said. “We encourage all our customers to try on goggles and swimwear to ensure comfort and the best fit. There are so many great options available; be sure to choose a good swimming brand. Once you find what works for you, stick with it.” If you happen to fall in love with water workouts, you’re in luck. Classes are available every season and are essentially ageless.
Paquet had been shocked to learn her former instructor taught water aerobics in her 70s. She made it her goal to start teaching after she retired, as she does now. For Woodman, the injury-prevention element of swimming has enabled him to compete well into his 30s. What’s more, Woodman’s grandfather swam a mile a day until the week he passed away. “It’s something you can literally do until the day you die,” he said.
For more information:
Beverly Hills Club
1555 Southfield Road,
6525 Second Ave.,
Franklin Athletic Club
29350 Northwestern Hwy.,
Detroit Body Garage
7968 Kercheval Ave., No. 3,
600 E. 11 Mile Road,