Deep Pockets Not Required

Happy customers help grow the program.

In many instances, the number of participants is higher than the number who preregistered, resulting in a surplus of funds for that season. This money goes into the “deep-water toning” account and is available to purchase equipment, or left to accumulate for future needs.

In terms of staffing, there is one instructor and two regular lifeguards at each meeting. If the registration numbers are higher than expected, a helper is added to put away equipment as needed.

Flexible Programming

A positive element of deep-water toning is the flexibility offered by the instructor. Many water-fitness classes feature instructor-led exercises set to music, but this typically is not the case in Cedarburg. Although music is played in the background, the instructor works with individuals, enabling them to get the greatest benefit out of the class.

For some, this means treading water in the deep end, while for others it means walking in the shallow areas of the pool to exercise, but it keeps pressure off of aging/rehabilitating joints.

Some participants partner with others and socialize while exercising, while others enjoy exercising on their own and taking advantage of “quiet time” away from work and family.

Water Exercises

The instructor mixes regular exercise with Pilates and yoga moves. The workout consists of a pattern of moves across the length of the pool and back that includes:

• A warm-up of elliptical motion in place using water weights (alternating legs and arms for 2 to 3 minutes)

• Bicycling across the pool and back while using a noodle under participants’ arms or between their legs (or using water belts), keeping the correct posture throughout the motion

• Rowing a boat backwards while biking across the pool and back

• Rocket kicks (bending the knee of one leg, while flip-kicking the other, and then switching legs coming back across the pool)

• Cross-country (long-leg walking in the deep end) while retaining a straight posture

• A “rocking chair” movement to loosen muscles between other exercises

• Lifting barbells for upper-body strength

• Ending the workout with wall-walking and sit-ups at the wall.

Other moves and strength training can be added for balance and stability. A half-hour to an hour is best for the total workout, but just moving in the water without jarring the joints is still a great workout for anyone.

Making It Work

After offering the program for several sessions, a survey of current and past participants reveals the town is on the right track to providing the type of program that residents will support:

• 100 percent of respondents indicated they would recommend the program to a friend.

• When asked about pool usage and fees, 100 percent said they preferred to use the entire pool and pay a higher fee, as opposed to sharing the pool with lap swimmers and splitting the fees with them.

• More than 50 percent have been with the program for three or more seasons.

• 78 percent indicated they registered with the program for physical fitness, while 22 percent indicated they registered for physical-therapy or medical reasons.

• 44 percent of respondents indicated that they heard about the program by word-of-mouth.

Eric Ryer is the director of recreation and planning for the town of Cedarburg in Wisconsin. Reach him at

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