Ahh, the cool sensation of water during summer! Imagine – you’re jumping into a cool pool, ready to cool off, relax, and still get the necessary work out in to obtain that summer body you’ve been coveting and obsessing over since winter. Is it possible to achieve all of these things at once? Yes.
Let’s face it, when the weather is hot, we really don’t always feel like doing traditional workouts in a gym (even with the air conditioning), or even outdoors. Heat has a way of making us miserable and not really wanting to do anything. There is truly only one real cure to hot miserable weather and that’s water!
Remember how much fun swimming and jumping around in water were when we were kids? How about back door pools, slip ‘n’ sliding, and pretty much anything involving water? Well, for those who do not know, swimming itself is one of the best workouts possible for the body. Swimming increases muscle tone and strength. Pictured with this article is a photo of Steven, a model I manage and coach, showing exactly how swimming and working out in the water can benefit our bodies.
When you’re swimming, every kick and stroke becomes a resistance against water. It forces us to use our core muscles, causing those muscles to tone and become stronger. And if all that weren’t enough, swimming also increases bone strength. Swimming keeps our limbs flexible and loose. Besides all of these things, one of my favorite things about working out in water is that it elongates the body, meaning it makes it longer, which is excellent for stretching and providing an overall more appealing look.
Here’s an example of some great swimming exercises:
1) Back Stroke: keep your eyes up, look straight up at the sky or ceiling (not at your toes). Make sure your head is in line with your spine. Make a Y and reach back with each arm at a 45 degree angle to your body, and stroke.
2) Breast Stroke: Reach your arms overhead, palms together. Rotate your palms outward; pull down until your hands are nearly level with your chin. Bring your hands inward by your chest, and then reach again. Bend your knees and bring your heels toward your butt. Turn your toes outward and kick your legs back and together as you extend your arms forward.
3) Freestyle Stroke: Freestyle is fantastic because it’s quick to learn and burns a lot of calories. Swim laps back and forth, resting 30 seconds or more between laps.
Here’s a couple more exercises you can do in the pool as well:
1) Spiderman: stand in the water at the side of the pool, stabilize your upper body by sweeping your hands back and forth as you run your legs up the side of the pool and then back down to the floor. Do these 4-5 times, changing the leading leg each time as you complete the circuit.
2) Planks: Planks are perfect for core strengthening and you can do them in the pool as well. Stand on the pool floor, hold a water log vertically in both hands, press it straight down into the water and lean forward until your body is on an uneven incline. Your head will stay out of the water. Try to keep your body stable for 60-90 seconds. If you feel like adding a little more edge to these water exercises, you can always incorporate bodyweight exercises like pushups, crunches, and bodyweight curls in between laps to give your water workout an extra edge.
Yes, there is something truly exhilarating about being in water. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” We can live longer without food than we can without water. The fact that water exercises can provide such amazing results and joy are an added plus. The next time you contemplate whether to swim or do something else, remember all of these things that you will get from simply letting yourself go, dive in and enjoy!
Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw LLC, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness and fashion model manager. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com.