Aqua jogging for health, fitness,
rehabilitation and athletic cross-
By Gary Moller
DipPhEd PGDipRehab PGDipSportMed (Otago) FCE Certified
PO Box 7366, Wellington South, Wellington, New Zealand. Ph: 04 801 6436
Ideal for: athletic cross training, pregnancy, body toning, weight management,
muscle injury, joint injury, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, circulation
ailments including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, recovery after illness, pre-
surgery fitness and post-surgery recovery.
Aqua jogging is one exercise strategy for preserving your knees and other weight bearing
joints like in the low back, ankles and hips. It is ideal for recovery after illness, injury or
surgery and for managing many chronic ailments. While joints and bones benefit from
rhythmic oscillations of compression in weight bearing activities such as when walking or
running, there comes a point where too much of a good things becomes a bad thing. This is
the time to insert partial or non weight bearing activities like aqua jogging. First, let's explain
why exercise is good for joints:
Rhythmic exercise that takes joints through their full range of movement polishes the joint
surfaces and spreads life-giving and lubricating synovial fluid back and forth within the joint
capsule. The compression-decompression cycle of exercise squeezes nourishing fluids in and
out of the cartilage tissues, in a fashion much like squeezing a sponge. Supporting ligaments
and muscles – and the bones - respond to the exercise by growing stronger, as will the heart
and circulation. Joints that are not exercised in this way gradually weaken and deteriorate
with arthritis being the end result. That's it in a nutshell.
We run into serious problems with high impact activities like running when we just do far too
much and, let's face it; the majority of modern humans are unsuited to high impact activities
like running. If a person is even slightly overweight, has weak feet or poor biomechanics or
an oxygen uptake of less than 40 ml oxygen uptake per Kg body weight, they are best to do
brisk walking or doing an alternative low impact exercise. If a runner tries to do more than 5
runs per week, injury rates go through the roof. The knee is a first line casualty.
My recommendation to people who want to run is to do from 3-4 quality runs per week with
complementary exercises like aqua jogging come in. It allows you to exercise daily, taking
joints through their full range of motion and working the heart and circulation, while
giving tired or injured joints time to recover before the next bout of weight bearing activity.
Injury, illness, a chronic ailment or recent surgery can leave the body exhausted, weak and
vulnerable. Aqua jogging using a pair of Kermitts and Aquafins is close to the perfect means
for speeding recovery and restoration of strength, stamina and function. Be guided by
medical advice as to when to start (in the case of surgery, usually once any wounds have
healed), if you are under the care of a health professional. Gently starting aqua jogging 3-4
times a week is safe and effective. Incidentally, your greatest risk of re-injury is getting in and
out of the pool, showering and changing!
Three months of aqua jogging, along with related exercises is great preparation prior to
undergoing any form of surgery. You will handle the surgery better and your recovery will be
quicker and more complete.
Getting started aquajogging
Start with a low volume buoyancy belt, as well as the Kermitts and Aquafins (refer to next
section of this article); especially if you are not a confident swimmer, are unfit or recovering
from a recent illness, injury or surgery. As fitness and technique improve (this may take 6-12
sessions), try aqua jogging for several minutes without the buoyancy belt and progressively
build the belt-free time from there on. Suggestion: if you live in Wellington, NZ, ask for a
personal training session when you purchase your Kermitts and Aquafins.
Revolutionising aqua jogging using
Kermitts and Aqua Fins
• Stop using buoyancy belt once you are able. You will find you can easily keep your head
out of the water through good technique and proper diaphragm breathing. The belt-free
method is great - it also eliminates a source of inconvenience and discomfort, including
chafing of the low back, especially for large-bellied people and when pregnant and it makes it
easy to stop and stand in the shallow end to do other exercises like inner and outer thigh
• Use a pair of Kermitt Hydrotherapy gloves and a pair of Aquafins - these special gloves
give you the upper body resistance to counter the powerful legs muscles.
Kermitts eliminate the need for a buoyancy belt to
keep you afloat once you get the hang of using them
properly and fitness improves. Furthermore, Kermitts
and Aquafins give the upper body, back, abdominals,
butt and all the leg muscles a thorough workout and
get the heart working. (The details for purchasing
these items are found at the end of this article).
• Keep bolt upright - resist the temptation to lean forwards.
Aqua jogging is not a race to the other end of the pool. The
slower you move forwards through the water the better.
Proper technique involves presenting as much body surface
against the water as you can, just like a big square barge.
Hips should feel as if they were slightly ahead of the
• Do large cycling actions with the legs - bring the thigh right up to more than right angles
to the hips, reach forwards and down with the leg on the downward stroke, stretch the leg
down and back from the hip, then pull the heel to butt on the recovery phase of the cycle. You
are slowly moving hips and knee joints through their full range of motion. Please avoid going
into short, choppy actions. Each sweep or cycle is long and very slow. A further action to use
is long and powerful cross-country skiing actions where the knees are kept quite straight.
Alternate between styles, rather than be locked into just one. Hips and butt have never been
worked so comprehensively!
• Use the arms in a long, slow sweeping action - this is where the Kermitts are so important.
The arm action is in concert with the legs: left hand to right thigh and right hand to left thigh.
The arm action looks like an alternating single-armed upright breast stroke or, alternatively, a
long sweep. While this is all hard work, keep at it and the arms, shoulders, back and waist
will quickly strengthen and tone in just a few weeks.
• Diaphragm breathe - keep the lungs fully inflated and you will float well with head out of
water. Breathing is maintained by use of the diaphragm. Practice this kind of breathing by
lying on your back and placing a hand on your upper belly, just below the lower ribs. Breathe
very slowly in and out by raising and lowering your upper belly while keeping your upper
chest still. This is how you breathe when aqua jogging.
• Do Ballet Bar style exercises by the poolside – Before and after your aqua jogging, firmly
plant your feet in chest deep water, and do all kinds of sweeping actions you can
imagine with your arms and legs, putting your Kermitts and Aquafins to good
use – leg circles, leg kick backs, can-can kicks and circles and similar ones
with the arms. Hold onto the poolside when doing the leg work. A thorough
workout for sure and the results of a stronger, trimmer body and heaps more
stamina will be there to see in just a matter of weeks!
Exercises with Kermitts and Aquafins
To fit the fins: Sit on the side of the pool. Place fins
around ankle. Ensure the rubber is around the ankle
to prevent chaffing. Push the strap completely
through the plastic fastening loop. Fold the strap
over onto itself. Tilt two toward your face and pull
strap to tighten. Ensure fit is snug (when you drop
your toes back to normal position after tightening
the strap, this should be correct). If there too much
movement, readjust. Double lock the strap by pulling the shorter Velcro strap over the top
and press it down firmly to secure it.
It’s easiest to put gloves on when they are dry. You will note there is a ‘thumb’ in each glove
to show you which hand to have each glove on.
Keep body as vertical in the water as possible i.e. avoid bending forwards. Jog
without a buoyancy belt if possible. Sweep legs back and forward, alternating with
arms in a “cross country skiing” motion. Keep legs and arms as straight as possible.
At the back extension of each arm stroke, turn your hand so that it is palm up and
sweep back through with the palm facing forward. Then at the front of the stroke,
turn the hand over and sweep it back again.
Alternate your arms and legs as if walking.
NB: You won’t move very fast up and down the
lane doing this and will almost be stationery but it is
an incredible workout. If you don’t use a buoyancy
belt there won’t be a lot of talking going on either as
you’ll be working quite hard to stay afloat!
You can also do this aquajogging stroke with your
legs moving in a cycling motion if you have any
If arms get too tired and need a rest. Take one of the hand weights at the pool and hold at
arms length in front of you with palms on each end and thumbs pointing to the room. Then
just work your legs.
Exercises while standing on the bottom of the pool
Go to a depth where the water is just over your shoulders. Put both hands in front of you,
palm down, and one leg behind you, toes extended to touch the bottom of the pool, while
balancing on the other foot. Sweep both arms down together to their full extension behind
you and at the same time sweep one leg forward so that the knee breaks the surface of the
water. Turn palms at the back of the stroke and sweep back to the front at the same time as
sweeping the leg backwards to the starting position. You will almost hop on the leg that is on
the bottom of the pool to keep your balance.
Exhale deeply as you push down and back with the arms.
Do 20 on one leg and then swap and do the other leg and repeat if necessary.
Done correctly and repetitively, the heart rate will race, calories will burn and all the muscles
of the legs, butt, back, abdominals, shoulders and arms get a thorough and safe working over.
Stand with water over shoulders and both feet on the bottom of the pool and in a squatting
‘haka’ stance. Stretch arm out each side and sweep across the body to give yourself a big
hug. At the hug point, turn palms out and sweep back across the body and into another hug
position. Hug one side with right hand on top of your upper arm and in the next sweep
alternate so that the other hand is on top. Really concentrate on squatting low, keep your
shoulders under water and do slow, strong sweeps. Exhale deeply with each hug and inhale
deeply as the arms sweep open.
This exercise should be done for about a minute non-stop and is a great conditioner of the
arms, shoulders, chest, abdominals and back. It is great for the breathing.
Stand in shoulder deep water in a haka stance and alternately sweep arms in an aquajogging
mode i.e. front to back and back to front. Remember to turn palm at the end of each stroke.
Really concentrate on squatting and doing slow, strong sweeps.
Breathe out deeply with each arm stroke across the chest.
This exercise pulls the tummy and back muscles tight and is fabulous for the muscles of the
arms, shoulders and upper back. You will notice that all of these exercises give the hips, legs,
ankles and feet a good workout as well!
Do this to really tone the butt, thigh, inner and outer thigh muscles. Stand in chest deep water
with your back to the side of the pool. Turn fins on legs 180 degrees so that the fins are in
front and behind your legs. Place arms along the side of the pool and move right leg across
your body. Lift it so that the tip of your toe (or as near as you can achieve) is breaking the
water and slowly sweep your toes in an arc across your body and then back down to standing
position and repeat with the other leg moving across your body.
Exhale as the leg is raised while ensuring that you low back remains firmly pressed against
the side of the pool.
You can also just walk up and down in the shallower water using the fins and gloves as
Remember to wash the fins and gloves in fresh water when you shower and avoid leaving the
gloves rolled up and wet between uses.
Proper nutrition is essential to get full benefit of your exercise programme, be that for fat loss,
athletic cross-training, managing a long term ailment or rehabilitation. It is most important
for full recovery after illness or surgery. Gary Moller’s website:
www.healthandlifestyle.co.nz has a wealth of information about this and related health and
fitness topics. You are also welcome to email Gary Moller for advice and guidance, including
deciding if the aquajogging aids that are mentioned here are suited for your situation.
How to purchase your Kermitts and
Purchase your Aquafins and Kermitt hydrotherapy gloves direct from the wholesaler and
$109 + $5 postage within New Zealand ($NZ20 postage if outside New Zealand)
$20 + $5 postage within New Zealand ($NZ20 postage if outside New Zealand)
Purchase both as a package and save:
$124 for both + $5 postage within New Zealand (NZ$20 postage if outside New Zealand)
Delivery is usually overnight to most places in New Zealand.
Contact Gill Gray or Don Christie
Phone: Gill 027 2033 228 or 04 479 7474 Phone: Don 021 490 369 or 04 970 1188
Aquafins New Zealand
50 Glen Road
04 479 7474 or 04 970 1188