An increasing number of local people are attending aqua fitness classes at Coonabarabran Swimming Pool, but organisers are hoping more men will take up the sport. The Coonabarabran Times spoke to Fay Chapman to find out more...
How long have aqua fitness classes been running in Coonabarabran? Maz O’Callaghan and I did our first training course in 2009 and started our first aqua fitness class that year. We were both interested in exercise and swimming and we saw it as a great way to exercise in the summer and keep cool. We had enough interest to keep going and enough interest was shown to continue the classes into the next year. We have been running aqua fitness classes for six years and now there are more trained leaders - Dawn Weatherall, Pat Maiden, Carolyn Fretwell, Loretta Pullham. It works out well because we each host a class during the week. We all have different personalities and so our sessions are delivered in a slightly different way, so hopefully we are not boring.
How did you first come to be involved in aqua fitness? I was taking an exercise class during a very hot summer when I saw a flyer advertising training in water aerobics or aqua fitness. I thought it sounded great, exercising in water, what a good idea! Maz and I went to Dubbo for a two-day training course and started doing our exercises at the pool...a very nervous beginning! Every year we do a refresher course with Colleen Wilson-Lord and Brian Lord, who continue to be a great inspiration and introduce new ideas, exercises, activities and apparatus.
What do the classes involve? Warm up, fitness training, strength and flexibility exercise, toning activities and stretches. We try to give exercise to all parts of the body - arms, legs, core - emphasising good posture, safety in the water and not to over-extend yourself.
Are there different classes for varying fitness levels or experience? We cater for different levels of fitness by asking people to exercise to a level they feel comfortable. It is up to the participant to be aware of their level of fitness and to exercise to that level accordingly. We want our participants to exercise and enjoy doing it.
What type of people would benefit from participating in your classes? Everyone! It’s not hard on joints. Water acts as a cushion for weight-bearing joints preventing injury, strains, and recurring injury, which is common in other exercise programs. Exercising in water makes you work harder as you are using the resistance of the water to support the body. Water pressure against the body is 800 times greater than air pressure, so moving through water increases resistance and gives a better workout.
I understand you are now holding classes specifically for men. Can you explain a bit more about this? We realised women were getting the benefits of exercising in water, but no men were coming. We decided to hold a men’s class to see if that made a difference, as they too would benefit from the program. The program will run for the next few weeks and we hope that Coonabarabran men will see the benefits and be more regular participants in this worthy activity. We are holding this at 6.00pm so that men who work can also join in.
How many people attend the aqua fitness sessions? Numbers are very dependent on the weather - on a cool day we will still get about 10 dedicated ladies, but on a hot day we’ve had up to 40 in the pool. Generally, attendance is about 20 to 30 each session. We find there has been more consistent attendance during the past few years.
Why do you think aqua fitness has gained popularity? More and more people are seeing the benefits of exercising and have found they prefer to work out in the water where their body is supported. They can jog, jump, use weights, cycle (on noodles) - all things they wouldn’t be able to do on land.
What’s your favourite thing about aqua fitness? Everyone can exercise to some degree supported by the water and it’s a great way to keep cool while exercising, but there’s also the social aspect of meeting new friends. I enjoy seeing people increase their fitness and helping to keep our community healthier by encouraging more people to exercise.
What feedback have you received from people who have attended your classes? I often get asked around September and October, “When is Water Aerobics starting up for the new year?”. We have lots of keen exercisers ready to start at the beginning of the season and they continue to turn up regularly. Even the hospital physiotherapist recommends exercise in the water for her patients.
How often are classes held? There are five, one-hour sessions per week, held at 10.30am Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 5.00pm Wednesday and 11.00am Saturday. Men’s only classes are being held at 6.00pm on Tuesday and Thursday. All classes cost $5, which includes $3 pool entry. Bring a towel, sunscreen and your swimmers. Some people wear rashies for sun protection.
Aqua Fitness Classes at Coonabarabran Town Pool have attracted a cult following.