Aquatic steps are not available at every facility, but if yours has them, then you have the opportunity to spice up your classes with some new exercises. Think “outside the box” and rather than just transferring the gym’s step aerobics class to the pool, use some water specific exercises instead. My thanks to Julie Twynham whose MAAP workshop in 2006 provided me with a lot of ideas for using aquatic steps.
Aquatic steps have rubber on the edges of the bottom to help keep them from sliding around too much. Ideally the water should be deep enough so that when you stand on the step, the water comes up to your elbows, as in the picture to the right. Some aquatic exercises to try are:
Rocking horse with the front foot landing on the step and the back foot landing on the floor.
Stand on the step with one foot and skateboard with the other. Bend your standing knee to get a deeper sweep with the pedaling foot.
Stand on the step with one foot; kick and lunge to the floor with the other.
Cross-country-ski with the front foot landing on the step and the back foot landing on the floor.
Try some squats, with both feet on the step, or with one foot on the step and one foot on the floor. When you squat on a step, less of your body weight is supported by the water’s buoyancy.
Log jump to one side of the step, tuck above the step, and log jump to the other side.
Cross-country ski, suspended, above the step.
Hop up on the step, pike, tuck and land on the step, then hop down to the floor.
Fall sideways off the step, tuck, extend the legs to the side, and cross-country ski side-lying back to the step.
You can even use the aquatic step for stretching. For example, walk around the step dragging your arm behind you for a chest stretch. Put one heel on the step to stretch your hamstrings.
You can create an entire class with the aquatic steps or use a few of these exercises in a circuit class. You might also want to use them for some games at the end of class. Set some aquatic steps up around the shallow end of the pool and play follow the leader around them and over them, pausing on top for some squats or Yoga tree poses or anything else you can think of. For more ideas on incorporating aquatic steps in a lesson plan, see my book Water Fitness Progressions. The book can be ordered from Human Kinetics (the publisher) or from Amazon.com. Just click on whichever source you wish to order from and the link will take you there.
See you in the pool!