Gill South: Making waves

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Gill South gets her swimming togs on and jumps into the pool to try Zumba - aqua style - with a mixed bag of results.

For those suffering from injury or chronic pain, Aqua Zumba is a great alternative to land-based exercises. Photo / Thinkstock
For those suffering from injury or chronic pain, Aqua Zumba is a great alternative to land-based exercises. Photo / Thinkstock

I am standing shivering in my towel outside my locker in the women's changing rooms at the very nice, posh Next Generation Club, across from the University of Auckland. I seem to have mucked up my locker number combination and can't get the jolly thing to open - I really shouldn't be trusted with this kind of responsibility. A lovely woman from my Aqua Zumba class finds someone to rescue me.

Our Aqua Zumba session on this Saturday morning seems to have attracted women only today - and in my mind it is the most fun thing going on at the gym, though the tennis courts are calling me. And as we do our thing, we seem to be a bit of a focal point.

The music blares out across the huge room - if you were hoping for a quiet swim this Saturday morning, you're clean out of luck. A lean, grey-haired man conscientiously doing his swimming laps, looks over at us, open-mouthed. The gym bunnies on their walking machines the next floor up seem to be watching us too. I like to think we add some colour to their hamster-on-a-wheel experience.

One of the tricky things about Aqua Zumba is getting your grip on the pool floor when you're going from left to right, which seems to be how a lot of the Zumba dances are designed. Virginia, our teacher, is stomping away out of the pool, doing the usual Zumba steps and we try and shadow her in the water with varying degrees of success. Trying to move fast in the water is nigh on impossible.

Fortunately exercising in a pool masks a multitude of sins - I don't feel as exposed being the new girl in the class as I normally would.

The session is 45 minutes long, which is perfect, as far as I'm concerned. According to the information I'm given, because of the added element of water resistance, participants are able to get a complete workout in half the time because the resistance of the water is 12 times that "on land".

Aqua Zumba classes are also a good alternative for those who have to be careful because of an injury or chronic pain. Well I think my level of unfitness puts me up there with these types.

I had hoped doing exercise in water wasn't going to leave me feeling sore, but I do feel it later in my neck and shoulders. At least it proves that I did actually exert myself. I really feel like a big drink of water afterwards, too. But you feel no pain during the class and, as always with Zumba, you find yourself doing it with a big grin on your face.

To me, this is a bit like aqua jogging, which is one of my favourite things, though there's no time for chat unfortunately.

One of the exercises we do which is rather hard work is lean back in the water and hold our feet up, using our arms to stay afloat. I cheat of course, kicking my legs to help my tragic arm movements, which are really not doing the job at all.

By the way, I manage to do all this with my glasses on. Bonus.

Next week:

I have never really taken a lesson in how to apply makeup, but I'm becoming more reliant on the stuff so I'd like to learn how to maximise the positive. I am having a session with a makeup artist who helps the wonderful charity, Feel Good Look Better.

- NZ Herald

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