Tag Archives: swimming

11 Reasons to take up Aqua Aerobics

AD/ I was commissioned by Simply Swim to share the reasons why I love Aqua Aerobics and why it’s so good for you.

Six months ago I decided the time was right for me to add some exercise into my week, so I joined a gym and I’ve been going their Aqua Aerobics classes a few times a week ever since. In those six months I’ve learned a few things, made a few friends and got a little bit fitter. If you’re thinking of taking up swimming or Aqua, here are a few things which might encourage you.

11 Reasons to take up Aqua Aerobics #AD

11 Reasons to take up Aqua Aerobics

Low impact fitness – I have a spinal injury, so bouncing about in a dance class is really not recommended for me. Swimming and Aqua Aerobics are very low impact, so the wear and tear on my joints is minimal.

It’s suitable for all fitness levels – You don’t have to be Rebecca Adlington to go for a swim. Many pools have fast and slow lanes, so pick your level and go for a swim. Likewise with Aqua Aerobics classes, there are people at all levels of fitness and experience, just position yourself where you have a good view of the instructor and you’ll be fine. Remember to tell them if you have any injuries, they often offer me alternative exercises due to my injury, which really helps.

It’s reasonably cheap – Your local leisure centre will offer swimming sessions for a few pounds, or Aqua classes for around £5. The gym I belong to has really long opening hours and several Aqua classes each day. I did my sums before I joined and found it was cheaper to join and have that flexibility than it was to go elsewhere. In terms of equipment, all you really need is a swimming costume and a towel.

Aqua is easy – I’m something of a stranger to exercise, but Aqua is easy to do; there are no fancy moves to learn, as long as you can swim a width (for safety), you can do Aqua. Stay down the shallow end if you’re nervous in water; do what you can, bounce about instead at the bits you’re not sure of, no one will mind. It’s all very easy going.

No one cares what you look like in a swimming costume – Seriously, no one cares. Everyone is in the same boat, we’ve all got lumps and bumps, cellulite and bits we’ve accidentally missed with the razor, no one cares how you look because everyone is busy sucking in their own stomachs when they’re getting out of the pool.

That said, you do need to be comfortable in your costume; if you’re bouncing about in Aqua, something with decent straps and a supportive bust will really help. If you’re conscious of your tummy there are costumes which can smooth that out a bit. I usually wear a swimming costume with bust support, thick straps and a boy short leg; so my upper thighs are covered. A lot of the Aqua class wear this style; so when you’re jumping up and down everything stays more or less where it should be.

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You’ll make friends – I usually keep myself to myself, but in the last six months I’ve made a few nice friends in the pool. We chat a bit and often go for a natter in the hot tub afterwards. It makes me feel fractionally less alone.

Strengthen your pelvic floor – Now I’m in my 40’s, strengthening my pelvic floor is a high priority for me. All swimming strokes can help to exercise your pelvic muscles; you have to engage these muscles to keep your balance as you swim. The best stroke for your pelvic floor is the breast-stroke; the kick action makes your thigh and pelvic floor muscles contract, which strengthens them. Aqua Aerobics is also excellent for your pelvic floor; balancing in the water really works your core muscles. I have noticed a difference in the six months I’ve been swimming and doing Aqua classes.

It’s feel good fitness – Doing any kind of exercise gives you those feel good endorphins; busting some moves in the pool to some good music can (if you close your eyes) make you feel like you’re in some kind of Aqua disco. It’s fun, it really is, if you’re not smiling, you’re not doing it right!

Forget all your troubles – If you’ve got a head full of things to think about and worry about; Aqua and swimming are great ways of turning off that niggly voice in your head. When I’m in the pool I’m not thinking about work, or family, or what to cook for tea; for some reason it all just drifts away. Give it a try.

It’s family friendly – Although not strictly for kids; I have taken my son along during the school holidays and I’ve seen parents and kids in the children’s pool bopping along while the class is in session. Exercising in front of and with your children is excellent for modelling healthy lifestyle choices for them. My son loves that I go to Aqua Aerobics classes and that I swim, because it means he gets to come along sometimes too. It’s also given me more confidence in the pool and I’m less stressed about what I look like in my swimming costume.

Treat yourself afterwards – I always make time for a sit in the hot tub afterwards; if I have more time then I will also have a sauna or a steam. For me heat in all of those forms really helps my aches and pains. I like to think that it soothes any aches I will have from all the (vigorous?) exercise I’ve just done. If you work hard, then you deserve a little treat afterwards right?

I thoroughly enjoy going to Aqua Aerobics classes. They are fun and really good exercise, especially for someone like me and the physical problems I have. It’s done wonders for my confidence, both in and out of the pool. If you’re thinking about trying it for the first time, have a look at what classes are available locally and give them a try. What do you have to lose?

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Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

Being a keen swimmer I am dead-set on the young ‘un following my lead. We try and take him swimming as often as we can. The small boy is 3, we potty trained him soon after Christmas, but (sorry son) he’s not quite got the hang of where poo goes and he’s not yet dry at night. We’re not rushing him, he’ll figure it out in his own sweet time with some gentle encouragement from us. It does mean that we still have to be careful about continence at the swimming baths.

Step forward Charlie Banana! For the past three years we’ve put standard disposable swim nappies on him and watched in horrified amusement as they’ve soaked up pints of pool water. We were after something more suitable and something less babyish for him.

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

We liked the look of the Charlie Banana Swim diaper and training pant. They have a range of designs to choose from. They have a soft, waterproof outer layer and an organic cotton layer inside to absorb any accidents. The elastic around the waist and legs is good and strong, so nothing untoward can escape.

We ordered the x-large size as he’s tall for his age, and they were quite roomy, so they’ll last a while even for fast growing little ones. They were comfortable and not bulky to wear and swim in, and he thought he was pretty smart in them.

To give them a rigorous test we also took them on holiday with us to beach-test them. As you can see from the picture they made for rather fetching beachwear. The small boy gave them the full work out, meaning they endured a dip in the Atlantic, sat on a number of sandcastles and he had both kinds of accident in them (once again, sorry son).

Charlie Banana Swim Diaper Review

The Charlie Banana Swim Diaper can also be used as a daytime training pant and I can see why, though it might be a bit bulky underneath their clothing, but fine if they’re just ambling about the house on a hot day in just that and a t-shirt maybe.

I regret that we didn’t know about these swim pants sooner, they’re ideal for little ones learning to swim and would’ve saved us the faff with those horrible disposable nappies. They’re just £8.50 a pair, which I think is a really competitive price, especially considering the quality of the swim pants. I reckon they’re a very good buy.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Charlie Banana Swim Diaper shown in the pictures for review. This has not swayed my opinion of the product either way, my thoughts and opinions are always honest.

Swimming for Fitness – Speedo Pinnacle Review

A little while ago I wrote about my upgrade from a shoddy high street swimming costume to one more suited to my rediscovered love of swimming. I got myself a swanky and much admired Speedo one.

speedo pinnacleSince then I’ve fallen back in love with the Speedo brand and couldn’t resist getting a proper, full-on training costume. My eye was drawn to the Speedo Pinnacle Body Positioning Kickback costume.

Regular readers will know I had two lots of spinal surgery last year and most of my core stability was lost, plus I’ve got a long rehab road ahead of me. A costume that will help re-balance me and strengthen me in the water could only ever be a good thing.

The Speedo pinnacle is full of special panels to help with core stability. Because of this it can be a little tricky to get on, but it’s worth it. Once on it looks fantastic and got lots of very positive comments.

The Speedo Pinnacle is made from fabric which Speedo call Endurance+ and has been developed to be 100% chlorine-resistant, as well as quick drying. The fabric is 20 times more fade resistant than conventional swimwear and has been engineered to keep its shape, so it shouldn’t get baggy after a few months. There’s nothing worse than a baggy bottom!

Thankfully for someone rocking a sizeable pair of double Ds, it has decent bust support. I struggled with my old, non-Speedo costume and its slippy down straps, there’s none of that with this, the racer-style back which means you don’t have to worry about giving people an eyeful when you dive in, nor are there any hasty readjustments after every few lengths.

It was comfortable to wear and I felt it did support and improve my performance, not to mention increase my confidence in the water. When you’re exercising the last thing you need is to be worrying about what you’re wearing. This is stylish and performance enhancing.

Would I recommend the Speedo Pinnacle? Absolutely, if you’re a serious and regular swimmer or you do aqua-fitness, then this is a brilliant costume. It looks good, it feels good and it should last longer than other costumes.

speedo pinnacle

Disclaimer: Speedo were kind enough to send me a new swimming costume for review, to help me on my road to post-surgery fitness and as a thank you for my (always honest) review.

My 15 Minutes of Fame (that never was)

I’ve had quite a lot of “tell me more” type comments in response to my #SilentSunday picture this week, so I’ve decided to write a proper explanation of what it was all about.

Withington Baths NW Tonight Interview

Me being interviewed for BBC NorthWest Tonight

Last week I wrote this about me starting swimming again at my local pool, Withington Baths. My post was shared around my local community and picked up a pretty decent amount of hits (thanks guys). The good people at LoveWithyBaths shared it, loved it; and when the BBC wanted to do a piece about the consultation regarding the community taking over the running of the leisure centre, they gave me a call and asked if I’d be interviewed for the telly.

On Saturday just gone, I went to Withington Leisure Centre and met with Sian and Paul from LoveWithyBaths and BBC North West tonight presenter, Naomi Cornwell and her lovely cameraman Andrew to be interviewed for that nights bulletin.

I was horribly nervous and probably made a right monkey of myself. They interviewed Sian by the pool. Then me outside the pool and Paul outside the dance studio. It was a brilliant, if nerve racking experience. I am not a natural in front of the camera, that’s for sure!

In the event my interview wasn’t included, neither was Paul’s. But Sian’s interview was centre stage and she got all the relevant points across.

So my 15 minutes of fame ended up on the cutting room floor and I’m left to continue my life in relative obscurity. Though autographs are still available upon request.

Withington Leisure Centre

Withington Baths is currently under threat of closure due to funding cuts. If you, like me would like to see South Manchester keep this excellent facility, please show your support here.

 

Swimming – (hopefully) from Fatness to Fitness

After the hell that was 2013 and all the physical rehabilitation I had I’m very aware that I’ve got to maintain and improve my current level of fitness.

During the summer and into the autumn I would go on daily, long, fast-paced walks. Each week I would see an improvement in my time and my fitness. I’d noticed a reduction in the level of pain I was in and I felt good.

Autumn swung into winter and it became too parky for me and I stopped. A little bit of winter weight crept up and I started to miss my happy endorphins. So on the advice of my therapist I started swimming again.

As a child I was a brilliant competitive swimmer. I swam for several teams. I trained with people who went on to be Olympians and I was among the very best in the county. I usually swam backstroke or front crawl. I have strong, strong legs which made these the perfect strokes for me.

I stopped swimming when I hit puberty; I was very conscious of all my lady lumps and bumps and couldn’t face it anymore. In hindsight that was a massive shame because, you know, I could’ve been a contender.

So about a month or so ago I slipped into my swimming costume and literally took the plunge. I’d not swum properly for years but I found myself in a pool where I used to do some competitive swimming, Withington Baths. It’s an old Victorian pool, but the water is warm and it’s cheap and close by. I have clear and fond memories of swimming there and collecting my hard-swum for medals afterwards. Glory days.

The first time I swam, knowing how unfit I was I mentally set a target of 10 lengths. I’d bashed those out in no time so decided to continue, by the end of the session I’d done 25 lengths, but I was seriously sore and limping the next day. Undeterred I returned the following week and did another 25 lengths and I’ve been back every week since to do another 25 lengths each time. Each session I feel stronger and fitter and my time improves.

Over Christmas I went to Cheadle Baths a few times, another one of my competitive childhood haunts. Theirs is an Olympic size pool and a nice facility. I like that an area is roped off for those who want to swim lengths so it’s easier to swim without dodging people. There I swam 18 lengths, just short of a kilometre. I was pretty chuffed with that.

It’s too early to see how swimming weekly and now twice weekly is changing me. I feel stronger in my arms and shoulders. The bingo wings are fractionally less and there is more definition in my legs, the squishy middle bit could do with buggering off but it will do in time. But I feel better. I feel stronger and happier. It gives me a routine and a goal and I like it.

Next week I think I’ll up it to 30 lengths! Go me!

Withington baths

Withington Baths @lovewithybaths

Fitness: Spinal Rehab – Getting Fit Again

This year hasn’t been great, I’ve had two surgeries on my back and spent the best part of 8 months lying down in pain or being shunted about in a wheelchair. I’ve got my legs back now and can walk again though I still have back pain and numbness in my legs. I need to focus on my recovery now, on my spinal rehab.

When I look back at where I was 18 months ago I was fit. I’d do around 4 hours of Zumba or other dance a week. I ran a bit and I’d walk for miles and miles. I used to love yoga and I was strong and flexible and most definitely fit.

Eight months of pain meds, biscuits and lying down have taken their toll and I’m as weak as a kitten. My legs shake, I have lost my core stability, I am weak and I hate it. Luckily I’ve got myself on a spinal rehab programme which is trying to make me strong again.

I’m only at the very start of my journey but I’ve got to walk a maximum of 2 miles a day. I’m allowed to return to Pilates as long as that’s done at my pace and I don’t push myself. I must learn to sit again and lie down less. I’ve got to complete my physio exercises daily. I must push myself but not too far. I’ve got to do some basic household chores but I’m not allowed to lift and bend which is tricky with a toddler. I’m not allowed to take him out in his pushchair yet as that’s too strenuous. I am weak.

You’d think that this would be frustrating for me, my inability to function normally, to rely on others to empty the washing machine so I can peg out the washing, but no. I’ve been broken for so long just doing that is an achievement and makes me feel like I’m a more useful member of the household.

I want to start swimming again. I used to be a competitive swimmer and I was super strong and I want to be like that again. My Zumba days are most likely behind me and I’ll probably never run again as any activity which involves impact could further damage my spine. Spinal rehab is a careful balance of pushing yourself but not too far.

I’m 36 and I’ve got to be careful. But I’m grateful not to be in horrendous pain anymore. I’m grateful that when my feet touch the floor more often than not I can feel the floor. I am grateful that I can start to be a proper wife and mother again. I’m incredibly grateful to the surgeons for giving me my life back.

Now I need to take my life and shape it into something that makes me happy and fulfilled and most importantly a lifestyle that suits my ruined spine. Existing can be exhausting and if I overdo it I can be in pain for days. I’m determined to get fit again and I want to be strong. I need to be strong.

So if you go for a walk with me, sorry if I can’t keep up. If you want me to join you in the park with my son, I can’t push him there I’m sorry. If you want me to go clubbing with you I can’t dance. But I’m not going to lie down and rot ever again, not if I can help it.

I’ve been told it’ll be 2-3 years before I’m recovered from the surgeries and that I may always have pain and numbness. I can live with that because I’ve got my life back. Now I just need my strength and fitness.

Fitness: Spinal Rehab - Getting Fit Again