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Questions and Answers

Frequently we are emailed by Instructors, Personal Trainers, Health Care Providers and asked about water fitness problems and other subjects that they do not have an immediate answer to provide to their participants. We would like to share a few of these questions and answers with you. WaterART has created a full interactive system to help you. Check out our  WaterART Message Board. If you have never posted on the message board you do have to create an account. If  you are a WP member you will have privileged sections. Here's some information on  how a message board works or how to get started with message board.

From: Cathy Dixon Sent:
To: WaterART Fitness 

Subject: Best Triceps Exercise?




At our pool, the YMCA inIrmo,S.C., the instructors use the foam dumbbells.

What do you think is the best triceps exercise to target the "giggly underarm" using the dumbbells?


Thank you!!


Cathy Dixon


P.S.  I have begun teaching a deep & shallow water class back to back and am absolutely having the best time!  Loved your salsa video - going to try it in my class tomorrow!  Thank you!!


Dear Cathy,


There are literally thousands of exercises for every major muscle group.  The “best” exercise is one that the person may perform in good posture with good technique (as our muscles are trained on our posture)


Since everyone has different skills, fitness levels, muscle fibre types and goals - there are many variables.


With every piece of equipment you have to analyze the joint action. The Triceps Muscles ( there are 3 ) extend the elbow and also assist in shoulder extension.


With dumbbells you can only do dips because triceps extensions  (would literally rip the shoulder out of the socket if you let buoyancy assist the upward motion (or take the move beyond normal range)which would be very easy with the traditional triceps extension.


Ideally with the triceps you need 3 actions for water training


1)      dips which are pushing the dumbbells or noodles down ( front, side or behind the body)


 2)      triceps extension with mitts, paddles, boxers  (resistive equipment) or noodles ( buoyant equipment). Start with the arm in front and extend the elbow and push the water down for resistance and through for range of motion.






3)      overhead triceps extension with a band or tubing



The more ways you may train the muscles – they stronger they are! So ideally utilize as many exercises for the major muscles as you know.   And yes, regular strength training is the only way for results. In other words, you have to progressively overload the muscle to reach a training effect and strengthen or hypertrophy the muscle....


P.S.     Muscle & fat are separate entities (so patrons need good

nutrition too!)




Julie Twynham

Educational Director

WaterART Fitness International Inc.,



Dear Drusilla:
A student recently asked me a question: "How many calories per cardio session of water fitness do you burn?"
I generally teach 45 to 50 minutes of cardio for my conditioned population. I know that water fitness gives resistance of 12 to 14x's more than on land but I haven't a clue about calories. I attempted looking it up, but I was unsuccessful.
Can you please help me out? I am sure this is in one of my many books and I should know this, but I have never even thought of it. I am not a calorie counting advocate. I believe in moderation and portion control.
Laura C. Florida.

Dear Laura:
Calculating the number of calories that you would burn during one water training session depends on a lot of factors - the biggest one being;
How hard are you working? Lots of people get in the water and just bob around for the whole time and expend very little energy whereas another person in the same class will use the water's resistance and work as hard as he/she can so that they reach 8 on the 1-10 RPE scale indicating they are working hard.
A second factor to consider is body composition. What is the person’s ratio of fat to muscle? You need muscle to move effectively through the water to create speed and more resistance. “Muscle moves whereas fat floats". That is why we work on building muscle in the water prior to performing high intensity cardiovascular intensity. You need strong muscles to work at a higher intensity cardiovascular fitness.
What depth of water are you working in? You can move faster in shallow water because you dont have as much resistance. As you move deeper it becomes progressively harder to push the water at the same speed as the shallower water.
Are you maintaining an acceptable speed through good ROM? Or are you doing short quick movements, which give the illusion of hard work? Little moves will produce little muscles and little work.
What are you doing to create more resistive work? Are you using aquatic mitts, resistive equipment such as paddles, or buoyant equipment, such as the barbells or noodles?
Which working position do you use the most? Extended working position? – this will allow you to stand tall and not require much energy.
Are you doing vigorous rebound to lift the body up out of the water or “momentum rebound” which is essentially bouncing? There is a great difference with the amount of energy required between the former and the latter example.
A neutral working position or keeping the shoulders under the water, will force you to use a lot more water for resistance and core work while providing protection for the submerged joints.
Lastly, a suspended position requires great skill to maintain ROM and good body alignment as well as providing maximum energy expenditure.
Eating – yes, that can be a factor too. If the person is dieting extensively the body will probably drop in metabolism for burning calories since the body will not let you starve yourself.

We have some references in several of the WaterART Manuals which refer to gaining muscle and burning calories. "If you gain 1KG (2.2lb) of muscle you will burn approximately 40-50 calories more per day just by breathing. This is your basal metabolism rate. This amounts to 280 calories per week and 1120 calories per month. Adding exercise to a day will account for a higher number of calories being burned as well as your metabolism will be given an extra jolt. The factors affecting just how many calories can be expended by additional muscle mass and exercise is controlled by individual metabolism, genetic make-up and the individual's level of fitness. In the personal trainer manual, we itemize caloric expenditure dependent on MET level. Each water session is approximately 400 kcal of energy expenditure –however, a lot is dependent on MET level or the intensity you are working at. You must be working at about 4.2 METS of energy to reach that goal. This is approximately equivalent to a very briskly walk or light jog.

Therefore, I think all you can tell your participant is: to eat right, exercise often and enjoy life. Instead of constantly stepping on the scales – take a body measurement - if you do add some muscle the chances are you can weight more - but your measurements show you looking a lot trimmer and– you will feel a whole lot better about yourself.

Stop worrying about calories, dieting etc. and enjoy each day for what you get out of it - you dont get a second chance.
Remember that,

"Yesterday is History
Tomorrow is a Mystery
Today is a gift - that's why we call it the present."


Dear Julie:
Hello, I just want to know if there are any contraindications for me doing aquatic fitness classes while being pregnant. This is my third pregnancy with two previous miscarriages. I am a bit more cautious but would like to remain fit. Please advise me on proper form and about exercises that I should stay away from. Thank you, Ingrid R. Ontario

Dear Ingrid,
We know that water fitness (when done properly) is helpful for healthy expectant moms but you are a high-risk situation who will require careful monitoring. You definitely need to get your Physician’s and OBGYN's approval and recommendations before you join any exercise program. If they do approve you, I recommend more aquatic personal training because you should be closely monitored throughout each exercise session.

We are fitness professionals, not doctors, and we must not step outside the bounds of our profession. We can design exercises appropriate for healthy expectant moms and work with instructors to help them be more knowledgeable about safe exercises. But you and your Instructor will require specific guidelines to get you through the next few months.

Pregnancy is a condition that has specific contraindications to exercise and it is one of the most difficult conditions to program. You and the baby want to be healthy but many moves, such as bouncing, twisting, lateral movement may over stimulate the abdominals, and are generally bad for both you and the baby. Exercise can help with a shorter labor and safe delivery but this is NO easy task. I am sending a short article to read and some information on our program to take to your doctor. Please realize, you should accept the decision the doctor makes regarding an exercise program, as your health history is very high risk. I really hope this advice helps you. GOOD LUCK and keep me posted.

Dear Julie  

Where can I look for a job? Rosalie

There are always more aquatic fitness jobs - than instructors; however, the nature of the industry is such that things keep changing ie. schedules, directors, etc
So your best bet is to check out who is in charge at the center and who is the decision maker. Even if you cant get a regular class - they always need substitutes. When you perform a quality service -the patrons -will ask for you. So here are some  leads..... to check out.....

• All community centers, condominiums, private health clubs, YMCA’s, YWCA’s, Schools, Spas and Golf clubs that have fitness facilities and pools offer job opportunities.
• See what type of programs they have ( or don’t have).
• Write a proposal to a facility if they are not running a program.
• Speak directly to other instructors and see if they need more instructors or substitute instructors.
• Attend classes so that you gain a feel of the environment.
• Check website listings for vacation centers, hotels, and cruise ships
• Check out our  Job Postings section on out website  

If I have more than one WaterART certification do I have to renew each one separately?
No. You need only renew the HIGHEST level of certification. If you have lesser certifications these are automatically renewed for the same time period. If you advance to an even higher level of certification - your renewal date will automatically become 2 years from the date of that certification.
Do I need to become certified before I start teaching?
Definitely – but become certified for the type of fitness you will be teaching. For instance: if you are only interested in group instruction for healthy people then a general certification may be adequate. If you plan to advance to teach in a specialized area such as for an Arthritis or Rehabilitation Program, or decide to offer personal training then you need to upgrade your certification for that specific area. Never claim to be knowledgeable in an area of fitness for which you have not received certification.

If you have fitness questions you would like answered in our newsletter email us in to: 
  and we will do our best to answer in print.

If you have any comments or feedback , we would love to hear from you.

Here's Drusilla's 70th Birthday VIDEO surpirse - yes, she has been in the industry over 35 years!


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