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What is Aqualates?

By A. B. Kelsey
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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Aqualates is a challenging water aerobic workout based upon the same anatomical guidelines and principles of Pilates exercises. This workout was developed by Chimene Motiverno-Cole and Tori Brown, who wanted to create an easily modifiable, low-impact, aquatic exercise system. Sometimes called “water Pilates,” Aqualates was designed specifically to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, also referred to as the body’s “core.” In addition to being an intense, calorie burning workout, Aqualates enhances coordination, mobility, stability, endurance, and balance.

Aqualates might be considered an ideal workout for those who suffer from pelvic, back, or other joint pain because the effects of gravity are reduced significantly in the water, resulting in a low-impact exercise. People recovering from surgery or injuries often participate in Aqualates classes to rebuild their strength faster and more gently than they could by exercising on land. Aqualates is also ideal for senior citizens with limited mobility.

Aqualates is growing in popularity with pregnant women as a safe and fun form of pre-natal exercise. Because this type of workout increases strength, endurance, and flexibility, it could possibly help ease labor and delivery and even speed up a woman’s recovery after giving birth. Aqualates participants are trained to control their breathing, which could also help ease the intensity of labor.

Participants do not have to be great swimmers to join an Aqualates class, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have basic swimming skills. Non-swimmers can still exercise by doing simple underwater leg circles and leg lifts and walking around the shallow end of the pool like a ballerina. Other moves involve holding on to floatation devices such as a beach ball or a thick plastic noodle while doing basic squats and lunges. More advanced participants of Aqualates can firm up their biceps, triceps, and shoulders by using special boxing gloves or aquabells, which are dumbbells specifically made for exercising in water.

Aqualates instructors present all of the exercises in terms of anatomical function, which causes participants to make a “mind and body connection” and to move more efficiently. Participants learn muscular awareness and control while the water’s cooling effect on the body makes the exercises seem less grueling.

While Aqualates certainly sounds more fun than sweating on a treadmill, it is important that individuals consult their physicians before participating in any kind of exercise program. It is also important to remember to drink plenty of liquids while attending an Aqualates class, as being in the swimming pool can actually increase the chance dehydration.

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