Water aerobics class offers ‘cool’ cardiovascular workout

With sweltering July heat and evening temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, the thought of exercising is less than compelling for most people, regardless of age.

But instructor Vicky Mohn and the Hillsboro Recreation Commission combine exercise with a refreshing dip in the Hillsboro Municipal Pool through a water aerobics program.

According to Mohn, the program can help melt away unwanted pounds, improve muscle tone and increase cardiovascular efficiency while all but eliminating the possibility of muscle, bone and joint injuries.

“Water aerobics is the only form of exercise I know that has absolutely no stress on the joints or muscles, yet it’s very beneficial because of the water’s natural resistance,” Mohn said. “It’s a great way to tone and firm your body.”

A water aerobics instructor for more than 25 years, Mohn said the program is designed for people of all ages.

“I have teenage girls who take the class and women in their 70s and everything in between,” she said. “One year it was incredible because we had several mother-daughter combinations in the class.

“This is also a great way to socialize, make new friends, catch up with old friends or just use it as a fun family activity.”

Classes begin Thursday, July 7, and run from 8:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. The cost is $3 per session or $30 for 12 sessions. Classes will meet on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“I don’t take attendance or anything like that,” Mohn said. “You can come for one class, six classes or all 12 and pay on the honor system as you come.”

Mohn said water aerobics is based on aquatic exercises that include the three essential movement groups:

n water resistance movements for improved strength, muscle tone and muscular endurance;

n stretching movements for flexibility;

n brisk, lively movements for improved cardiovascular fitness.

Because of water’s natural buoyancy and support, less than 10 percent of the body’s weight needs support when the participant is in neck-deep water.

“It’s an excellent way for anybody with joint problems, such as arthritis, because there’s no stress on your muscles or joints,” Mohn said.

“It’s a great way to burn off calories, but moving in the water allows you to land softly on your weight-bearing joints and there’s no impact on our internal organs like the jolt you receive with other forms of exercise.”

Mohn, owner of Vicky’s School of Dance, combines her knowledge of physical fitness with her familiarity with dance to offer a unique water-aerobics program.

“Because I’m a dance instructor, I choreograph and put the water aerobics to music,” Mohn said. “My theory is that I try to make it so much fun that the people aren’t thinking about their 20 leg lifts or 20 squat kicks. They’re caught up in the fun and not thinking about how many of each they’re doing.

“But the routines are very repetitious and easy to catch on to.”

Mohn said the primary benefits of water aerobics come from the cardiovascular workout as well as the toning and firming that takes place while participants work against the water’s natural resistance.

In the process, participants can expect to burn between 450 and 700 calories in a typical hour-long workout.

“You’ll basically get out of it what you put into it,” Mohn said. “But one absolute benefit is that even if the temperature is still 90 degrees, it’s so nice and cool to do water aerobics.”

People don’t have to be proficient swimmers to participate in the class.

“You don’t need to know how to swim at all, but we do recommend people come with aqua socks or that type of thing because it gives you a little better grip on the bottom of the pool,” Mohn said.

“But if someone would happen to slip, I do pay a lifeguard to be on duty.”

Each routine has been designed to be an enjoyable challenge as participants extend themselves to get the most out of every movement.

“Over the years I have varied the program, and if there’s something somebody doesn’t like, they can feel free to sit that exercise out or replace it with something they’re more comfortable with,” Mohn said.

“We just want them to keep busy and keep moving so they create more resistance and do themselves more good.”

Mohn said many participants like the class because it’s held after regular pool hours.

“The ladies like the fact that they can just drop their towel at the side of the pool and jump in,” she said. “You’re under water so you’re not subjected to others watching you and you can position yourself in water to the point that you’re comfortable.”

While the class is beneficial and open to both men and women, Mohn said she places special attention on problematic areas for women.

“We do focus on all the trouble areas ladies have-the waist, the hips and legs-but we try to work on everything,” she said. “We also have upper-body routines where we move our arms briskly and it actually feels like you’re holding weights.”

Mohn said the program respects the age difference of the participants.

“For some ladies, this is their first attempt at exercising, so I tell everyone it’s important to pace themselves,” she said. “We want to challenge them but not overwhelm them so we start out gradually.

“It’s addictive in a good way,” she said. “It’s an exercise program you can jump right into, exercise for an hour and go home and not have sore muscles but feel refreshed and ready to come back to the next class.”

Preregistration is not required.

“I would encourage people to come and give it a try, and if you like it, just keep coming,” Mohn said. “This is an excellent way to do something good for your health in a fun atmosphere.

“I’ve always said that water aerobics sells itself in the fact that if you just get in there once and try it, chances are you’ll come back because it makes you feel good.”

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