Every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9-10 a.m., the Scott Park Pool, located at 177 Corn Planters Street, is buzzing with activity. Golf carts, bicycles, and motor vehicles encompass the perimeter of the facility.
Inside, an upbeat mix of Motown and pop music streams through a loudspeaker. A peppy voice projects over a microphone, cheering on the participants while counting down to the next exercise.
A water aerobics class, taught by Susan Kreitman, is in session. Kreitman’s enthusiasm is contagious, as 25 students of all ages laugh, interact with one another, and engage in a full-body workout all at once.
Kreitman grew up around the water and was a competitive swimmer and gymnast. She is a registered pediatric nurse. Teaching water aerobics is a passion that allows her to help others by teaching them to move their bodies in a fun and energetic way. She said that when she is in the water, she feels strong, powerful, and happy, and that’s the kind of class she teaches.
Kreitman modifies the routine to keep it fresh and incorporates high-intensity interval training into the session. Part of the workout includes “buoys”— foam dumbbells made for the pool that create resistance in the water. Pool noodles are sometimes used during the workout as well.
At Scott Park Pool, only shallow water classes are taught. Heads always stay above water and the ideal depth is three to five feet, or chest-high, so the water supports 80% of body weight. Deep water workouts, in water levels of 6.5 feet or greater, are more advanced and require a water flotation belt. Pool temperatures between 81-84 degrees are ideal for water exercise.
According to Cathy Sheafor, a lead water aerobics instructor at Swim Charleston who previously taught on Daniel Island, a variety of exercises can be incorporated in a fitness regimen. She noted, “Some instructors focus more on aqua jogging, jumping jacks, swimming and various forms of kicking as these have cardio benefits.
Others focus more on arm lifts and leg lifts of various types as these have strength building benefits. I like to include various yoga stances, back and chest exercises as well as stretching movements.”
“The workout is ideal for exercising joints, balance, strength, cardio, and mental health,” Kreitman explained. “The body is capable of many different movements such as forward, backward, up, down, side to side...so water aerobics incorporates all these movements.”
“I want everyone to enjoy playing in the water,” Kreitman continued. “My class, Movin’ with Susan, inspires others to keep on moving — as humans we are not meant to be sedentary.”
In June 2020, Kreitman earned certification from the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of aquatic exercise, health and wellness worldwide. Obtaining AEA certification is considered the highest level of achievement for those leading aquatic group fitness and personal training classes.
According to its website, “The AEA Certification tests a standard level of theoretical and practical competence in aquatic fitness program design and leadership for general populations approved for independent exercise. Group fitness instructors and personal trainers who hold the AEA Certification are prepared to assist participants meet health and fitness objectives through safe, effective, and enjoyable water exercise.”
Kreitman worked with a mentor to obtain certification and engages in continuing educational opportunities to maintain her license.
Water does wonders for the body
Sheafor said that the benefits of water aerobics are countless.
“Water fitness classes help to build muscle as athletes benefit from water resistance as water provides 12-14% more resistance than air,” Sheafor said. “There are numerous studies associating an increase in flexibility among older individuals, arthritic individuals, and obese children. Water aerobic activities also improve heart health, lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure and resting heart rates. Water aerobics can provide weight management benefits and can help diabetics keep blood sugar under control as well as improve blood flow to the feet.”
Sheafor added, “Because the water supports the body during exercise, water aerobics is also great for those recovering from surgeries, those who have arthritis, and pregnant women as it is low-impact and puts less pressure on joints. There are also studies showing that people are more likely to exercise longer in water than on land thus helping to build endurance as well as studies specific to the benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s, strokes, and fibromyalgia.”
Additional perks include improved bone health and increased bone density for those with osteoporosis. Finally, there is significant scientific evidence that water exercise reduces stress and anxiety and boosts moods and the sense of tranquility.
TAKE THE PLUNGE
• What: Movin’ With Susan class is open to all Daniel Island residents.
• When: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-10 a.m.
• Where: Now through Oct. 16 at the Scott Park Pool; after Oct. 16, the class moves to Pierce Park Pool, which is heated.
• Cost: $6 per class, cash or charge.
• What else: Bring water bottle and towel.