Introduction – Aqua Gymstick
The Aqua Gymstick is an adaptation of the Gymstick, originally created in Finland. Using rubberised bands in water fitness classes is not a new concept, but what is truly unique about the Aqua Gymstick is its attachment to a stick. With this innovative design, stationary, propulsive and travelling exercises can utilise the added resistance of the bands. Another clever feature of the Aqua Gymstick is the ability to ‘roll’ up the bands, thus creating greater tension. This is ideal for catering for different strength and fitness levels, especially in an aqua exercise format.
The benefits of using the Aqua Gymstick
- Provides a high level of neural activation by challenging the nervous system to react to the unstable movement patterns, which enhances movement reaction times and the development of heightened proprioception (righting reactions)
- Requires greater recruitment of the core muscles
- Can use the stick to create turbulence in addition to the resistance in the bands to add further challenges
- Excellent tool for rehabilitation
- Can be used effectively in shallow pools, where some other aquatic tools can be awkward to use e.g. dumbbells and noodles
- Easy to use and instruct
- Aids in the development of postural awareness
- Challenges aerobic and anaerobic fitness effectively
- It can provide excellent variables for modifications/progressions
- The ideal combination of strength and stability training
- A vast range of innovative and interesting new exercises
- Empowerment to those who find it difficult to exercise on land effectively
Population groups who will benefit from using the Aqua Gymstick
- Mainstream aqua participants – shallow and deep
- Those just commencing exercise and who are self-conscious
- Overweight and obese
- Sporting groups
- Personal training clients
The Aqua Gymstick is a very simple tool that can be implemented into any class style. Cardiovascular and muscle conditioning can be performed simultaneously and the Aqua Gymstick can be adapted to most exercises. The resistance of the bands can be manipulated simply by winding or unwinding the bands around either end of the stick. This can be performed quickly by rolling the stick with the wrists and fingers. To increase resistance, wind the bands around each end so that the bands become shorter and require more effort to stretch. To reduce tension in the bands unwind the Aqua Gymstick until the desired resistance has been achieved. Regardless of the exercises, there should always be tension in the bands when using the Gymstick.
Some exercises require the bands to be tighter e.g. holding the stick at the hips and performing a jumping jack with a bicep curl. Movements like a cross-country ski with the stick swivelling forward with alternate arm extensions require the bands to be at their full length to get the maximum rotation and benefit from the turbulence created by the stick.
Resistance in the aqua bands comes in 3 colours and strengths
Light Green – is designed for rehabilitation and exercise for beginners and older adults. The resistance of green exercise bands ranges from 1 to 10 kgs
Medium Blue – is designed for junior athletes, men and women who want to start exercising. The resistance of blue exercise bands ranges from 1 to 15 kgs
Strong Black – is designed for fit men and women and athletes. The resistance of black exercise ranges from 1 to 20 kg
The recommended starting resistance strength is green which is also appropriate for beginners, older adults and those rehabilitating from an injury. For regular and fit participants, the blue Gymstick is effective in providing the necessary challenge.
Aqua Gymstick Trios
- Aqua Gymstick Trios is a unique cardiovascular and muscle conditioning class because it incorporates multiple fitness principles:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Muscle strength
- Muscle endurance
- Joint stability
- Postural awareness
The workout consists of sets of 3 exercises called a Trio. Each Trio is focused on fatiguing a specific muscle group. Each Trio consists of a primary exercise, progression 1 & progression 2.
- A Trio is 3 exercises performed twice within a 5-minute block.
- The purpose of the Trio is to focus on fatiguing one muscle group while incorporating balance and coordination to add a further challenge to the body
- Each exercise is performed for 30 seconds, with a 10-second break between the first and second exercise and a 20-second break between the two halves of the trio. This provides the instructor with the opportunity to communicate how to execute the next exercise. For example Trio 1:
- Roll over and under with the stick overhand for 30 sec followed by 10-sec rest
- Yoga pose – tighten up the bands and grip with the elbows, holding the Gymstick close to the torso (shoulders relaxed) feet come together and under and towards the body as feet jump apart (Jack) for 30 sec followed by 10-sec rest
- Circle over as feet come together and under and towards the body as feet jump apart followed by 20-sec rest
- Repeat Trio as above – optional change of grip to underhand
- 40-sec rest and begin the next Trio
- A 40-second break separates each Trio to prepare for the next Trio.
- Within the Trio, the first exercise is called the Primary exercise. The second exercise is a progression of the primary and it is thus called Progression 1. The third exercise in the Trio is another progression of the second exercise and this is called Progression 2.
The Aqua Gymstick class provides a unique workout that not only elevates heart rate but also provides an excellent upper and lower body workout. Easy to modify and highly adaptable for different populations and individual client needs, the Aqua Gymstick is a truly remarkable exercise tool.
Want to learn more about the Aqua Gymstick?
Join International Master Trainer Marietta Mehanni for a FREE 1-hour seminar where she will discuss with you how the Aqua Gymstick can be used in the pool to increase the intensity, improve muscle recruitment, and give an alternative exercise to traditional land workouts for both rehabilitation and training.