Gill South: Going to great lengths for a jog

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Gill South opts for water-borne fitness without getting her head wet.

When aqua jogging, keep yourself in an upright position. Photo / Thinkstock
When aqua jogging, keep yourself in an upright position. Photo / Thinkstock

Although I like to think of myself as a natural athlete, the aches and pains after exercise are becoming harder to take. Playing tennis in the holidays with the kids, I felt as if I had been run over by a truck the next morning.

I decide a bit of aqua jogging is just the ticket to get some exercise but not hurt myself or my joints. I've never been a jogger, the hockey run from school is still an extremely bad memory. But in the water, it's completely different.

I am joined by two girlfriends for company. One is fighting a nasty auto-immune disease at the moment and thinks aqua jogging will be just the thing she needs. Plus, she can help instruct us. One of the things I immediately like about it is that I can keep my specs on. Whenever I go swimming, which I love, I feel at a disadvantage because I can't see a thing without my glasses. Then I have to stumble my way back to wherever I've left them and hope like mad that no one's hidden them for a joke.

I tie a big buoyancy belt around my waist - not my best feature at the best of times - and plop into the lovely cool water at Newmarket's Olympic pool. And it's a breeze, we barely draw breath throughout, gas-bagging away, yet gently jog about 20 lengths up and down the pool.

I talk to Gary Moller, health and fitness consultant, about the merits of aqua jogging. His sister Lorraine, the Olympic runner, is really into it, he tells me. It preserves your knees and other weight-bearing joints like the lower back, ankles and hips.

The recommended method is to keep bolt upright, with the hips feeling as if they are slightly ahead of the shoulders. Then you do large cycling actions with the legs, slowly moving the legs and hip and knee joints through their full range of motions. You can alternate this with full cross country skiing actions, keeping the knees quite straight. The arms should be sweeping long and low, like an alternating single-armed breast stroke.

I suspect Gary would put his head in his hands and rock slowly back and forth, groaning, if he could see me aqua jog, but I'm willing to learn.

When I tell him I found it a bit of a breeze, he says to try it next time without the belt, which encourages sloppy breathing. Without it, my body will naturally float as long as I fully inflate my lungs.

A slap-up early lunch at Jones the Grocer afterwards is another pleasant part of the morning. I doubt Lorraine Moller indulges in that sort of carry-on.

Aqua jogging could be my new favourite activity. And, if I keep it up, apparently my arms, shoulders, back and waist will tone up nicely (lunches not included).

Next week:

It's that time of year, my annual mammogram is due. I console myself with the thought that the prostate examination is worse ...

- NZ Herald

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