Underwater Treadmills Woo Boomers to Retirement Communities, Encourage Innovative Fitness Programs
Courtesy of Kim Eichinger, Director of Fitness
Country Meadows Retirement Communities
There are more than 77 million “Baby Boomers” in America, and reports show that they are inclined to live more active lifestyles than those of previous generations. This ultra-fascinating population is turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day… and will be for the next 18 years! Yet they don’t want to be slowed down by Mother Nature, medical conditions or other factors.
The challenge for retirement communities is to position their campuses competitively to attract this bevy of adults who wish to keep working out despite any physical impediments they might face. That’s why so many facilities like ours have turned to offering unique, technologically-advanced fitness options like the HydroWorx X80 underwater treadmill and jet machine. Not only does this type of ground-breaking equipment afford opportunities for instructors to “change up” their regimens; it also enables mature adults to enjoy outstanding, pain-free workouts.
For example, one of our residents, Kate, is 94 years young. As she has very emphatically told people, she came to us with back pain. After she started to work in the water with our team of aquatics experts, that pain disappeared in about a month’s time. Kate’s remarks have been echoed by others, including one of my colleagues who noted that the underwater treadmill is what our community members want as a low-impact, high-return way to challenge themselves.
Of course, investing in an X80 underwater treadmill and jet machine is the easy part; learning; how best to use it to catch the attention of residents (and prospective residents) takes a bit of strategy. That’s why we’ve developed so many water-based exercises that use the treadmill as the crux of the workout.
I want to share with you a few elements of some of my favorite routines. These are easy to implement and each of them utilizes the key advantages of the HydroWorx X80 in a dynamic way.
Step One: The Warm-Up
As any fitness instructor knows, the warm-up stage is integral to the overall success of any training session. Even in tepid water (we keep our pool at around 92 degrees Fahrenheit), the warm-up is equally as important as in land-based fitness routines.
I typically like to start the warm-up from the bottom of the body and work upward. Thus, the short warm-up typically includes:
Heel-Toe Raises – The rocking motion encourages plantar flexion and dorsa flexion essential for walking heel to toe. This movement is important for forward propulsion when walking and helps prevent shuffling.
Side-to-Side Rocking – Helps to prepare for weight shifting and side stepping patterns. In addition to the heel-toe raises, this is a great exercise for working the sides of the feet. Often, this is one area that’s ignored during warm-ups, but it’s essential for a positive outcome on an underwater treadmill. It also helps engage the hips and legs.
Trunk Rotation and Posture Press Ups – The handrails of the X80 work as a great feature to assist with exercises that encourage upright posture and trunk movement. By lightly pressing down on the rails to extend the spine and by reaching across the body to grasp the rails, participants can perform exercises to engage the core muscles.
Step Two: Walking Workout
Because of its intrinsic nature, the underwater treadmill lends itself to walking. However, I try not to allow our community’s residents to simply walk as they would normally do on land. By forcing them to think about their posture, gait and speed, I can help them have an extremely comprehensive workout that leaves them feeling refreshed but not uncomfortable.
During the walking working, I employ the following methods to get a solid calorie burn:
Arm-Swing Progressions – Reconnecting arm swing with walking is important for mobility. Participants who ambulate with a walker typically do not swing their arm when walking. With the X80 we can gradually connect arm swing with walking and still have the safety of the bars to assist the participant while the progress from swinging one arm to both arms.
Level 2 Arm Swing – As arm swing coordination improves strength and endurance can continue to be challenged by extending the arms through a greater range of motion or with more force against the natural resistance of the water. Interval training can also be performed by alternating periods of walking while grasping bars, swinging arms only with treadmill not in motion (no walking), and then walking and swinging arms.
Cross-Shoulder Swing – The motion of the cross-shoulder swing also provides a boost to the caloric “burn” of the underwater treadmill walking routine. When the arms are forced to move across the body against the natural resistance of the water, their flexibility and strength are engaged.
Step Three: Range of Motion, Strength and Balance
I feel it would be remiss to simply offer walking on the X80; after all, there’s so much more to do! For instance, range of motion, strength and balance (all of which are daily concerns of aging residents) can all be improved during the underwater treadmill workout.
Below are three of my favorite exercises to introduce:
Sit-Back Hip Stretch – Holding onto the bars for balance (or doing so without them, if possible), an individual can “sit back” in the water, bending downward to stretch the upper legs and hip area. To emphasize balance and give the abdominals a workout, I ensure that the core is engaged during this process.
Hip Abduction – Important for balance and walking. The handrails and resistance jet allow for a number of options for varying positions and resistance level in performing these exercises. This is also a great exercise to prepare participants for the strength, range of motion and coordination for side stepping on the underwater treadmill.
Balance Exercises Using Jets – Because the X80 comes with built-in jets, I use them to build balance. During the training, I have persons stand on both legs, then on one at a time, while the jets are on. Again, the hand rails are available for protection and comfort if necessary.
Step Four: Massage
By adding the massage hose to the HydroWorx X80, my residents can get a deep tissue massage along their legs, arms and back. It’s a great way to cool down, as it facilitates blood flow and reduces edema. So many of the Boomers I work with rave about how good it feels… and how it keeps them from getting sore the next day. Massage also enhances the social component of the cool down phase of the class. Participants love to relax and chat and this makes a nice closure to the workout.
They can’t believe it– they can’t believe the way their body feels! They just love it!
Forging ahead, it’s evident that the population of America is just going to continue to reach retirement age in record numbers. And retirement communities have to be ready for what that means.
Competition will continue to be fierce within the industry; that’s the reason those involved have to constantly strive to be cutting-edge. For us, part of our mission has been and continues to be fulfilled by our fitness and aquatics programs, highlighted by our HydroWorx X80 underwater treadmill workouts.
To watch Kim Eichinger’s exercise video on the HydroWorx X80 underwater treadmill, go to: https://info.www.hydroworx.com/icaa