The Chocolate Box 2

One of the challenges that face many aqua instructors is the ability to create new moves, new choreography and creative ways to use water. Water provides a unique exercise environment that allows for movement that is not possible on land. Faced with this wonderful opportunity, why is it that we want to stay with tried and true exercises?

  • Comfort zone – we know what works, so it is easier to stay with exercise well tested over time
  • Member pressure – if we tried something once and it was less than successful, some of us are too intimidated to try again
  • Lack of opportunity to experiment ourselves – not making or justifying the time to spend in the pool to explore different ways to move water
  • No pressure – if our members and managers don’t demand variety, then why go to the effort

Any one or a combination of these reasons maybe why some instructors find it easier to stay with moves that they have ‘always done’ in the past. It begs the question – is that you? Where do you see yourself in 12 months time – the same as where you are now, or an instructor that consistently inspires classes with exciting, new and challenging workouts that members never get bored with.

This workshop will encourage you to think ‘outside the box’ that we put aqua exercise into. There will be faster, physically more challenging exercises. There will be moves that you might have to practice before teaching to your class. There will be moves that you will need to teach more than once to achieve member success, but ultimately, the end result will be a workout that will inspire members to work towards achieving their exercise goals and an instructor that is excited about turning up for class.

Warm Up Choreography

Arm and Leg actions

I am so excited


Perform exercises with shoulders under the water

  1. Jogging with alternating hands – forward, forward, side, side
  2. Criss Cross jacks with feet lifting off the bottom. Arms pushing down to side and in front/back. Single bounce and double bounce
  3. Double hop with opposite arm to leg circling in towards body x2 on each side

Too young for promises


Shallow water exercises

  1. Jogging with double pulsing arm actions to the front and side
  2. Straight leg low kicks with punching alternating arms to the front
  3. Kick right leg to the front and left leg to side. Scooping arm actions towards the kicking leg. Repeat on opposite side
  4. Double leg donkey kick behind, with both arms pushing forwards

Don’t walk away


Suspended and propulsion moves

  1. Suspended scissors
  2. Side to side kick with single arm reach
  3. Scissor through, Knee propulsion scissors and a combination – 2x of each

Aquatic Tools

Single Dumbbell

Dumbbells come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and not all exercises are appropriate for each one. The length of the “bar” between the 2 circular foam sections will determine the type of grip and exercise that can be performed. Short “bars” will limit most exercises to a Hand to Hand pass or a Foam Grip. Dumbbells that allow both hands to fit in the centre allow for a wider range of grip options whereas dumbbells which have a much longer “bar” are best used with double hand grips – single hand grips have the potential to cause injury due to the increased force that needs to be generated to move the extended dumbbell through the water.

Using only one dumbbell with one arm will destabilize the body. This can be used as an effective method to work the core stabilizing muscles. Moth everyday movements are unbalanced eg: carrying a bag, shopping or a child, getting in and out of car, bathtub or bed, even reaching for something up high and tip toeing on leg to extend further.

Single Dumbbell Exercises



Dance Hall Days


Prone suspended

  1. Baby crawl



  1. Sitting position, both legs kicking out to form a V action
  2. Both hands or one hand on dumbbell, circle over and under
  3. Both hands on dumbbell, alternating push out to each foot

Queen of Hearts


Dumbbell under knee

  1. Dumbbell between thighs, twisting from side to side
  2. Dumbbell under one knee, kick the opposite leg up and down
  3. Dumbbell under one knee, kick the opposite leg to the side, bringing the knee to the chest
  4. Knees twisting from side to side
  5. Both arms scooping across body in opposite direction
  6. Sculling to the side



  1. Both arms scooping across the body to the side and over the hips


  1. Both hands holding the dumbbell, move the dumbbell from side to side

Heart And Soul




  1. Rock n Roll
  1. Rock n Roll
  2. Lying on one side, bringing knees to chest and kicking both feet into the water
  3. Dumbbell in right or left hand pressing through water in opposite direction to legs
  4. Dumbbells alternating hands
  5. Dumbbells positioned under the arm pit

Double Dumbbells

Most of us have used two dumbbells for quite some time for:

  • Stability
  • Strengthening
  • Suspended
  • Deep water activities and
  • Cardiovascular exercises

There are a few ways the dumbbells can be held in the water. Vertical, horizontal and horizontal with no grip. This is effective for releasing fingers and forearm muscles. Each movement will be different when determining which is the best way to hold the dumbbells.

The depth that the dumbbells are held in the water will ascertain the:

  • Intensity of the exercise
  • Amount of abdominal bracing / stability required
  • Speed of movement that allows the exercise to be performed with correct form and technique.

When the dumbbells are held closer to the surface, there is less strength required, therefore greater speed can be applied when pushing the dumbbells through the water. In turn, this can increase heart rate if lower body actions are also included. When more turbulence is created from increased tempo more abdominal stability is required.

Dumbbell Exercises






Shallow and suspended



1. Jogging


  1. Suspended kick forward, side, back and forward R and L
  2. YMCA legs
  3. Twisting



  1. Arms pushing forward, side, forward and behind
  2. Arms to side, dumbbells just under water
  3. Arms to side
  4. Elbows extending and flexing into chest


Achy Breaky Heart


Shallow and suspended


  1. Jogging
    1. Suspended kick to side and down R and L
    2. 8x stomps on each leg
    3. Donkey kicks
    4. Alternating rolling away from body
    5. Arms pushing to side and down


  1. Single arm rolling down
  2. Both arms rolling down


Healing Hands


Shallow and stabilisation


  1. Jogging
  2. Feet apart and swing R leg across body
  3. Aerial jacks with feet starting wide
  4. Option 1: Tuck jump. Option 2: Tuck jump with knees opening out


  1. Lift both feet up in front of the body
  2. Rolling hands over the handle
  3. L arm swing across body, while holding R arm to side
  4. Bring dumbbells together in front of the body
  5. Circle arms on either side of the body
  6. Extend the arms behind the body


How are Noodles used in Class?

Performing a noodle workout can be modified for any level (older adults, rehabilitation, children etc.) and it is a viable way to encourage main stream classes with regular participants to intensify their own workout.

Noodles can also be a challenge (for the instructor) to implement with success into a class format that requires flow and intensity, as in a main stream aqua class.

Increased lever length

When the noodle is held between the hands, it effectively increases the lever length of the arm. This will increase the workload of the muscles in the upper body. This is also a great way to encourage participants to work through a fuller range of motion, as they will feel the muscles in the upper back work as they pull the noodle up against the body.

Altering body positioning


In most non equipment based classes, participants usually spend most of their time exercising upright. The noodle provides the opportunity to change the body’s position in the water, and thus able to provide a wider range of exercise options eg: prone, supine, sitting.

There are also various ways to hold the noodle:

  • Behind the upper back
  • Underneath the buttocks
  • Underneath the arm pits
  • Hands on ends of noodle, in front or behind the body
  • Hands holding the noodle in front of the body

Noodle Exercises




Ballroom Blitz


Holding it behind back

  1. Twisting with knees high to chest
  2. Horizontal cycling legs
  3. Lying on one side, straight leg scissor action
  4. Knee to chest and then knee extension, which rotation twist
  5. Gentle grip on noodle
  6. Finger release: No grip
  7. Hands holding end of noodle, swing across body
  8. Finger release: No grip



Eagle Rock


Between thighs – more noodle behind than in front

  1. Baby crawl


  1. Single leg kick to front and back


  1. Fast straight leg kick


  1. Rock n Roll


  1. Finger release: Reverse breast stroke arms
    1. Finger release: Arms scooping in and out in opposite direction to leg
    2. Finger release: Alternating push forward
    3. Finger release: Figure of 8 to side of body


Wake Me Up Before You Go Go


Between thighs – more noodle in front than behind


  1. Both legs kicking to front and side




  1. Straight leg kicks in front



  1. Knees together twisting across body


  1. Option 1:Both hands holding noodle

Option 2: Both arms open and close and pass noodle from one hand to other

  1. Both hands holding noodle, straight arms sweeping across the torso under the water
  2. Both hands holding noodle pulling across to opposite shoulder

Back to the wall

If you’re left with only the structure of the pool to make your sessions creative, then it’s time to turn to the pool wall for a little inspiration. The benefits of using the pool wall are:

  • The ability to focus on upper and lower body movements
  • You can bring attention to functional core stability
  • It is an ideal support for beginners and those who are not comfortable with being in water
  • You can easily communicate with individual participants
  • For distribution of equipment you may have available, easier
  • You can add variety to stretches and expand your current repertoire of moves.

Consider using the pool wall when planning class formats. With large classes in small areas, it can be useful to divide the class so that half the participants are performing one exercise on the wall, while the other half are in the main body of the pool. This creates more room to perform exercises. Circuit formats are another option for using the wall.

Wall Exercises

Arms and Legs



At the wall

  1. Chorus: Run 2x slow, 3x fast
  2. Double pump / single, single, double pump
  3. Leg cross overs, front, back, combination front & back

Tequila Slammer


At the wall

  1. Criss cross jack, intensity option – ariel
  2. Chorus: High knee criss cross jack
  3. Oblique side crunches

In Summary

See if you can make your aqua time slot a ‘Chocolate Box’ full of favourite and sweet surprises. Not everyone will love every chocolate, but will be happy to eat them anyway. Try different class concepts regularly, so that your loyal cliental do not develop a mind set of what ‘should be’ delivered each week. Make them familiar with trying ‘new ideas’ so that they develop an acceptance of change.

Hope you enjoyed my session

For more information about workshops, instructor training and DVD’s

please contact me at