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Sportsister tests: Aqua Fitness with Karen Pickering MBE
There is one thing that ex-Olympian swimmer Karen Pickering MBE told Sportsister’s Lizzie Flint that has really stuck; “There comes a point in our lives when I think the only sport we’ll be able to do is swimming. After a while, unfortunately our bodies won’t let us do anything else.”
I’ll be honest with you; I am not a particularly good swimmer and it’s never really appealed to me. For that reason I was picked to test Speedo’s campaign for aqua fitness, to see just how an unenthusiastic, non-swimmer could be converted to this form of exercise.
What’s Aqua fitness all about?
Aqua fitness aims to show people how you can exercise in the water without it being just about swimming length after length. Many people, much like myself, find this boring.
Even Karen reassures me that if she had just been swimming up and down a pool for 25 years she would be in a strait jacket by now!
How is Aqua fitness more interesting?
Aqua fitness is about using specially designed swimming equipment, created by Speedo, which enables us to make the most out of exercising in the water.
When Karen was at the height of her career, she tells me that she used a lot of different equipment to break up training and to make it more interesting.
She gives me an example; “I would tie myself to a large rope that had five wet heavy sponges attached to the end and would then wade through the water as hard as I could, pulling them.”
This is of course an extreme, such methods only an Olympian athlete would do, but the principles remain the same for us mortals. Aqua fitness equipment is a perfect equivalent as it offers you opportunities to make exercising in the water more interesting and effective.
Used either in conjunction with swimming or by just remaining stationary in the water, the equipment creates challenges, variety, fun, hard work but the main thing being; a good work out.
What exactly do I do?
In order to target specific areas Karen has devised various exercise programmes that come with the equipment. She has even created a programme that ensures your head is permanently above water for those who don’t like to get their hair wet!
One of the great things about the Aqua fitness is the versatility. Each piece of equipment immediately creates resistance for its user when moved in the water, so no matter how you control it, you are guaranteed to be working some part of your body.
What are the benefits?
Swimming is a non-impact sport and this comes with huge benefits. Swimming and doing exercise in water enables people to train for longer, thus getting fitter and stronger, without the risk of putting added pressure on the body and causing injury.
Who can do it?
Everyone. For those who swim it’s a great variety to your pool session. For those that don’t or can’t swim, remaining stationary and using the equipment is an easy alternative to reap the benefits that exercising in water has.
Where can I do it?
Alternatively, you can buy your own equipment from the Speedo website or at retailers such as John Lewis or JJB Sports.
Would I do it again?
Yes as the benefits of exercising in water appear unrivalled. As a runner myself, the constant pounding on my body is inevitably going to cause damage or injury so, to prevent this, swimming and using the Speedo equipment seems like the ideal prevention.
Plus its lots of fun!
More info: speedo.co.uk
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine