Tired of the treadmill and suffering spin fatigue? Looking for a way to amp up your running regimen? Submerse yourself – literally – in a different approach to fitness.

Increasingly, Aussies are discovering underwater workouts: from aqua aerobics (not just for the grannies) to deep water running; aqua spin to aqua treadmill (submerged machines that make resistance your friend).
The no-impact nature of aquatic fitness makes it ideal for injury management and prevention, but aqua-loving instructors say there’s more to it than that. Physical benefits abound, it enables effective cross training and a variety of workout styles will keep you on your toes (or off them).
Personal trainers say they’re seeing a demographic shift. More runners are training in deep and shallow water, a youthful crowd is sampling underwater spin and a broader cross section of aerobic enthusiasts are getting wet for strength and cardio.
Sydney-based Ali Cavill, owner/master trainer of Fit Fantastic, says the benefits of aqua aerobics are surprising to some. “The best exercise you can do for yourself is interval training, which combines the weights with the cardio, and that’s what aqua does,” Ali says.
Ali’s aqua aerobics classes have varied fitness focuses including core, cardio and strength and incorporate equipment such as dumbbells and weighted belts. “(Aqua) allows you to do harder, more complex moves and (use) heavier weights without that impact on the joints and the strain on the body,” Ali says.
Russell Fine’s company Aquabuzz imports water bikes and water treadmills from Europe and supplies to Australian gyms, sports clubs, hydrotherapists and individuals. While it’s more popular in the northern hemisphere, Russell says aquatic fitness is gaining momentum in Australia. And it’s increasingly drawing favor with a younger crowd.
Russell says the no-impact nature of the training makes it perfect for those stepping up their regimen or easing back into exercise after a hiatus. “If you went for a ride on a pushbike for the very first time in years, you would come back sore,” he says. “If you use a treadmill or a bike in the water, you’re protected by the properties of the water itself. You might be fatigued but you won’t be sore.”
The machines also make for a great cross-training workout, he says. “Centres that have spin bikes overlooking the pool will do a cross between bikes on land and bikes in the water."
Melbourne-based Leon Adkins, owner of Blitz Personal Training, says increased interest in distance running – especially among women – is seeing more runners step off dry land.
“Distance running is very demanding on the body and it’s an achievement just to get to the start line of a half or full (marathon),” Leon says. “People are learning about the need for cross training, and deep water running mimics actual running better than any other form of cross training.”
To run in deep water, you need a flotation belt or vest, water that is six feet deep and guidance on technique. “You want to make sure that you’re doing more of a running stride as opposed to a kick in the water,” Leon says.
Whether you’re running for fun or focused on a goal, underwater running is a great way to shake up your regimen. “The greater variety you can provide for your body, the less likely you are to get injured,” Leon says. “The body is going to improve because it’s being stimulated in new ways.”