As people have become more aware of the health risks associated with physical inactivity, there is an increasing interest in health and fitness to counter the effects of a stress-filled lifestyle. Experts say that various fusion and experimental fitness methos like aqua aerobics have become a growing trend.
Mumbai-based fitness trainer Deepali Jain, considered as being among the first to introduce the concept of aqua aerobics in India, says that the concept, which includes exercises like cardio, pilates and kickboxing, is a useful training method for obese people or the ones suffering from arthritis.
Explaining the idea behind aqua aerobics, Jain said, "You weigh only 10 percent of your body weight in water. So when a person who weighs 100 kg, or who has arthritis in the joints, or cannot do any exercises on the land due to gravitational pull, enters the water, the load is lifted off the joints and he is able to exercise without pain."
"Water is therapeutic and it removes the pain completely. Inside the water, everything becomes pain-free and you can exercise for an hour," added Jain, who holds her training sessions at a south Mumbai club called Body Rhythm.
She says doing aqua aerobics every second day will help in stalling the progress of arthritis.
"The moment you stop, you stop rusting. Elderly people face problems with walking, getting up, sitting. They are scared to get knee replacement. Doctors send their patients with prescriptions and I work on that regime," she said.
Diabetics too have something to gain out of this training method.
"It's excellent for diabetics because there are specific exercises to regulate insulin in your body. It is excellent for heart patients, the sugar level comes down to normal, and it is also an anti-depressant. It's therapeutic," said Jain.
The exercise session is also made interesting with use of exclusive water-specific equipment.
"Inside water there are weight-bearing exercises. Dumb-bells specifically made for aqua. Bar-bells, ankle bells...we have specially made kick-boxing gloves too."
At Jain's classes, "Everybody is bonding- husband-wife, father-son, mother-in-law-daughter-in-law. It's a lot of fun".
The trend of aqua aerobics with all its health benefits may be rising in India, but Brazilian fitness trainer Cristiana Pipoli, who is currently living in India and training at Jaypee Vasant Continental, Vasant Vihar, says her classes consist of 80 percent foreigners and only 20 percent Indians.
"Aqua aerobics arrived 25 years ago, but it became popular in India only five to six years ago. In India, the swimming pool is outside and people don't feel comfortable in swimming suits," said Pipoli.
She however added that for the last two years, there has been an increased interest in aqua aerobics among Indians -- whether they're 18 or 80!
"I started getting more Indians in the last two years. Once they come, they are hooked. It's a different concept for them," she said, adding that "in general, India is waking up for exercise for the last two years".
And how could the trend be encouraged in the country?
"Somebody needs to open an indoor swimming pool. It's just a culture thing. Then I know Indians would love it and would come more often," she said.
What makes aqua aerobics truly interesting is its diversity?
"It is not just plain aerobics; one can incorporate several other techniques such as resistance training, Zumba, running, kickboxing, spinning and many other. It is extremely effective in increasing the range of motion as well," said Neeraj Mehta, international fitness expert and nutritionist, GFFI (Growth for Fitness Instructors) Fitness Academy.
It also doesn't pinch your pocket as a session may cost you anything between Rs.400 and Rs.600.