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The Noodle - How did it Begin?

Undoubtedly, the noodle is the MOST easily recognized and most used piece of aquatic equipment, not only on the North American continent, but all over the world. And yes, we were the first ones to "utilize the noodle" as a water gym. The noodle is more than 22 years old.  Julie Twynham, Educational Director of WaterART Fitnesss, was the first Fitness Professional to train with a Noodle. She first introduced it to the world via AEA & IDEA conferences 1993....and people were "thrilled" with the innovation.

The original manufacturer developed the "toy" from pieces of cylindrical grey foam that were used as bumper guards to prevent damage between his boat and the dock. When the pieces of foam broke away from the dock, the children started playing with these cylindrical tubes. It was soon realized that these foam tubes not only kept the kids afloat but also entertained them for hours. Then came the first video "Aquafit - Float to Fitness"  developed by Drusilla Leitch and Julie Twynham to demonstrate many uses of this piece of equipment and of course many workshops through the USA, Canada, Europe Singapore and South Africa.

Why has the Noodle become so popular?

Although it must always be remembered that a noodle is not a legal flotation device, there are many reasons why the noodle has become popular not the least of which is the price, followed closely by its adaptability. It provides ease of handling, can be used by almost everyone, inserted into a wide variety of programs and, best of all; it provides the FUN for functional movement. This piece of equipment can be used as an aid for the non-swimmer in the shallow end of the pool as well as to challenge to dynamic balance, resistance and buoyancy for the more skilled in any depth. I can remember an 80 year old women who couldn't jump rope. However, after a few years of doing the triceps exercise or pushdown, she developed enough strength and agility to jump over. To see her face when she accomplished this exercise was outstanding.

Unlike land programming where equipment is the norm and can cost thousands of dollars, many pool facilities are extremely frugal when purchasing any equipment for their water programs. The noodle filled that "nitch" of affordability, fitting into the tight budget guidelines that most pool supervisors have to live with. Additionally, once in use, it quickly became recognized that the noodle fits into development of many programs making it even more "affordable".

The original noodle was made from extruded foam. production was 60,000 units per hour. When the noodle became very popular, manufactures started producing up to 120,000 per hour which produced inferior foam. Noodles went from lasting 2-3 years to 2-3 months prior to getting waterlogged.

Some companies began knocking off the pool noodle by putting a hole in the middle of the noodle. The intention was to also decrease the amount of foam utilized and to knock off the patent. However, the quality became even more limited because the cheaper foam that absorbed more water and the kids chew on them.

Now closed cell noodles (check it out) have been developed and, on average, last for 10+ years as they are still remaining in good condition. These noodles are a much more environmentally friendly product but they do have a couple of drawbacks:

a) Some people can't handle the intensity or strength of the noodle
b) The closed cell foam is much more expensive than open celled foam.
c) Some brands are made with thicker or abrasive foam. This makes sitting or cycling on a noodle very uncomfortable.

Whether you utilize a noodle for a full class or part of a class it may add variety, sociability and challenge to any program.

Warming up you may lightly hold a noodle and rock side to side and front to back. You may utilize it to help assist people into water. It provides the sense of security and may be held in front or the instructor may walk backwards and the participant forward (facing one another) and easily guide them through the water.

Perhaps the greatest feature of a noodle is that you may smoothly move from one exercise to the next. You may be on a bicycle cycling and then just add some jump ropes. Changing positions not only adds variety to a program but it is an awesome cross trainer. Every time you change positions you naturally engage the core musculature and this is a workout in itself helping to reset posture and balance.

Working with a noodle can keep everyone warm and happy because of the ease of flow of the program. You may provide bouts of intensity then blend some active recovery or rest sets of easy balance exercise.

Water provides a natural resistance to strengthen and tone the musculature. Add a noodle and there is even more drag resistance. This provides more opportunity to tone and strengthen the musculature. Every major muscle can be targeted specific with a noodle.

Sit on the noodle and rock on a swing to engage the Rectus Abdominus. This superior abdominal work is what everyone loves about an aquatic program. You don't have to lie on the floor and crunch to enjoy the benefits of great abdominal training. In order to stay on the noodle, the participant must balance and utilize the abdominal muscles. This can greatly improve posture.

The BEST PART is that you may train all components of fitness:

  •  Sit on a bicycle (noodle) and cycle for cardiovascular training.

  • Push the noodle down (kind of like a land push up) and strengthen muscles of the triceps

  • Stretch - Hold the noodle over the head and lean to gracefully stretch out the obliques and latissimus dorsi.

  • Kneel on a noodle to challenge balance and posture.

  • Just sitting on a noodle will engage the core stabilizers

  • Jump over the noodle to train agility and co ordination,

    The  Noodle: 

  • Gives lots of variety for classes (shallow water, deep water, with toys/props, line dancing, interval training, athletic training, kids, therapy etc.,)

  • Eliminates impact, great cross training tool - especially for high impact land participants.

  • Is great for physically limited participants, who would otherwise not get off the wall (a step to aiding in confidence)

  • Provides participant with the feeling of confidence

  • Aids in buoyancy- allows non swimmers to stay afloat

  • Aids lesser skilled participants to perform suspended exercises in shallow water.

  • Can help to keep the hair or face out of the water

  • Is great for social activity (people feel like they are playing),

  • partner and group work and provides lots of laughter and interaction

  • FUN!

    1) Noodles are not considered legal flotation equipment. Make sure that your participants understand this. However they are a great aid for non-swimmers, provide an incredible amount of fun while exercising AND are affordable. Take time at the beginning of each program to identify the non-swimmers. A buoyancy belt may also be added ( with the noodle ) for personal safety.

    2) Review or screen participants especially for any muscular skeletal problems. Like any safe and effective program - not all exercises are for all bodies.

    3) Spacing: make sure that there is enough room and equipment for all participants. It is very awkward to have a lot of people in a little space with a noodle; however, with that said, you may choose positions like riding the bicycle to keep the noodle more space contained.

    4) Take time to prepare the program. Be ready to offer alternatives for all exercises and noodle positions.

    5) If someone has hand and/or wrist problems, they may have difficulties "gripping " You may choose a softer noodle or a baby noodle or simply cut the noodle down to size.

    6) Equipment variances: different manufacturers offer different levels of foam density, longevity of product, and styles of noodles. 

Types of Noodles

Check out our full NOODLE home study program KCW012 Use Your Noodle Correspondence Program

Program Includes:

All WP Memberships you may choose DVD077 - Advanced Noodle Challenge DVD as your free gift DVD option . Click here for all WaterART Professional Membership Program Options.

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