I was instantly intrigued when Belynda Rocha told me she was running aquapole classes in Newcastle.
I had heard of aqua aerobics but not aquapole. After a quick google search I discovered it involved working out in water using a pole, like those used for pole dancing.
But, “it’s not pole dancing in the water”, Belynda assured me.
And it was not the only new class to find its way on to the AquaStars water workouts – she is also offering aqua boxing and aqua elastics along with your traditional aqua fitness sessions.
I went along last week to see a session in action and could not help but wish I had packed my swimmers and been in the pool with the other first-time participants, who later told me it had been a lot of fun but also a tough all-over workout.
The great thing about aquapole, Belynda told me, was most anyone could do it.
Being in the water meant it was low impact, so was easy on the joints or for people coming back from injury.
In the summer months it also offers a cooler alternative to exercising outdoors.
As the weather warms up, more people flock outside for fitness, but it can be a really sweaty and sticky affair.
But the water in the pool at AquaStars off Hillborough Road in Warners Bay is temperature-controlled so the sweatiest person there was Belynda, who was instructing from the pool deck.
She first heard about it when her mum shared a video of aquapole with her.
“I put a post on our AquaStars facebook page asking people what they thought and we got a decent reaction to it,” Belynda told me.
She found a place in Adelaide that ran the classes, offered aquapole courses and stocked the gear needed to set up her own sessions.
Now aquapole has arrived in Newcastle and for the next two weeks, all aqua classes will be free to trial.
“Everyone enjoys it because it’s different,” Belynda said.
“When I did my aqua wets class it was hard work. It’s hard work but it’s fun. They all seem to enjoy it, which is really good.
“We’ve had kids here, teenage boys, my husband does it. It’s for all ages. When I went to Adelaide to do all of my courses, we had a 75-year-old in the class and she loved it. We’re open to anyone who wants to give it a go.”
All classes are 45 minutes in duration.
“Aquapole is a lot of ab work because you’re holding yourself on the pole in the different holds,” Belynda said. “You get an all over workout. You’re holding on to the pole and you’re using your legs to kick.”
Aqua elastics and aqua boxing have other benefits.
“Elastics is resistance. They’re attached to the pole and you can utilise them to get stability,” she said.
“You can swim away from your pole to get resistance. If you want to get more of a leg workout, put it around your feet and use the elastic to get the strength out of it that way. Use it on your arms and you can get a whole strengthening workout.
“Aqua boxing is boxing, so lots of cardio.”
You can find out more on the AquaStars facebook page.
Newcastle Harbour Swim Classic, Newcastle, January 26: On Australia Day, take your pick of either a 700m single crossing of the harbour from Stockton Wharf or a 1.4km double crossing, starting and finishing at Queens Wharf.
Maximum Adventure Race Series, Lake Macquarie, February 16: The first race of the series. There is a classic and novice course combining multiple legs of mountain biking, trail running and kayaking.
Sparke Helmore City Triathlon, Newcastle Foreshore, February 24: Choose between an enticer, sprint or Olympic distance course or get a team together and pick a leg.
Set two markers (A and B) 40 metres apart.
Warm up with gentle jogging or walking between the cones for five minutes then some range of motion stretches.
8 minutes x (5 squats at A, run/walk to B, 5 push-ups, run/walk to A). 2min rest.
8min x (5 dead lifts at A, 5 bent-over row at B. Run/walk in between). 2min rest.
8min x (10 lunges at A, 5 shoulder press at B. Run/walk between). 2min rest.
8min x (10 ab rotation at A, 5 glute bridge at B, run/walk between).
Extra: Finish with 5 x (2 burpees x 40m hard run).
Cool down with a slow walk then stretch.
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Renee valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.