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Published July 06, 2012, 11:30 PM

Making waves: Purposeful pool parties fuel fitness

FARGO - A new fitness craze is making a splash in the Fargo area. Local health clubs are starting to offer Aqua Zumba classes.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

FARGO - A new fitness craze is making a splash in the Fargo area.

Local health clubs are starting to offer Aqua Zumba classes.

Aqua Zumba plunges the Latin-inspired dance fitness program into a pool and uses the resistance of pushing your body through water to enhance cardio conditioning and body toning, according to zumba.com.

“It’s a lot of fun. I had a blast when I went through the training,” said Karla Hensrud-Wagner, Group Fitness Manager for Family Wellness Fargo. “It is a pool party. It really is.”

Family Wellness Fargo, which currently offers traditional water aerobics classes as well as Zumba and Zumbatomic (Zumba for kids) will also offer Aqua Zumba classes starting this September.

“I’m a Zumba instructor, so I know how fun Zumba can be,” Hensrud-Wagner said. “To me, Aqua Zumba was just natural to have because of how much fun you already have with regular Zumba classes.”

Hensrud-Wagner went through Aqua Zumba certification and said it adds the element of water to dance.

“You’re not going at a full pace of a Zumba class because of course you have the water resistance,” she said. “The movements in the water are bigger, but it’s like half-time.”

During an Aqua Zumba class, the instructor leads the class through a series of moves outside the pool, while the class follows along in the water.

“The instructors make big motions, and the music really drives the class,” Hensrud-Wagner said. “You really have to have a lot of energy and excitement and it really pumps you up and gets you going.”

Hensrud-Wagner said Family Wellness members have asked for an Aqua Zumba class. Starting in August, Aqua Zumba instructors will go into regular aquatics classes and offer a two-song demo, she said.

Family Wellness also offers Hydro Fitness and Hydro Power classes, which are total body workouts that combine cardio and strength, Hensrud-Wagner said. Hydro Power is a more intense version of the aqua class.

The water fitness classes are pretty popular with people of all ages, she said.

“They’re so full and they’re moving so much that waves are crashing up over the ledge,” she said. “The water makes it fun in general, but it’s also really good for people who have problems with their joints.”

There isn’t as much impact on the joints in the water, and people can make their movements smaller or bigger to adjust the intensity of their workout, Hensrud-Wagner said.

Water fitness uses water resistance instead of weights, so every muscle group is impacted in every direction in the water, she said. Accessories like webbed gloves can also be used to add extra resistance, she said.

Angela Ross teaches Aqua Zumba classes at the Fargo South Pool Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:05 to 5:50 p.m. for Courts Plus Fitness Center in Fargo. She also plans to teach Aqua Zumba for the YMCA and Family Wellness when they offer it, she said.

“I just love Zumba in general,” she said. “Dancing and having fun is my passion. Aqua Zumba is great because it allows people of all fitness levels to work out and join the fun and be outdoors and get a workout.”

She said the people who take the classes seem to love it.

“They have a smile on their faces, they’re outside enjoying the beautiful weather, and I can tell they’re having a lot of fun,” Ross said.

Ross said she grew up in the water and was a life guard for 10 years.

“I have a love for the water and I wanted to bring Zumba to it,” she said.

The YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties will offer Aqua Zumba starting Wednesday at noon. In the fall, it will also be offered on Sundays at 1 p.m.

“It’s such a popular class on land, that we just figured it would do well in the water,” said Kelly Hyvare, group fitness director for YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties. “Our members are just excited in anticipating it to begin.”

The organization has a series of water fitness classes that are not your typical water aerobics classes.

“It’s an alternative to land classes and just something different that has less impact than a land class would,” Hyvare said.

WATERinMOTION is a class similar to Aqua Zumba that focuses on the music and each song targets a different muscle group. The class is one of members’ favorites, Hyvare said.

The class improves cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, range of motion and flexibility, according to the Y’s website. Because it’s in the water, it offers continuous resistance and limited impact, the website states.

According to the Y’s website:

Aqua-Pilates is a non-impact strengthening and stretching class with Pilates and yoga movements done in the water. The class focuses on increased flexibility, core stabilization, posture correction and muscle strength.

Ai Chi is a relaxing water exercise class that increases your range of motion, flexibility, and balance.

Deep Water exercise classes offer a total body workout without any impact and improve muscular strength and endurance, increase flexibility and expand cardiovascular fitness.

The Deep Abs class offers core building in the deep end of the pool. The class helps strengthen your abs, back and rear.

Visit ymcacassclay.org/y-schedules/aquatics/ for water fitness class schedules.

There are a few other places in the region offering Aqua Zumba, according to news releases and zumba.com.

In addition to teaching YMCA Aqua Zumba classes, Carol Berndt will offer Aqua Zumba at the public pool in Casselton, N.D., through the Casselton Park District from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. starting July 15. Classes are for ages 12 and older and cost $5 each.

Nanda Gross will teach Aqua Zumba at Touchmark retirement community this fall, at Family Wellness Center, and on Thursdays in Casselton if the Sunday class is a hit, she said.

Gross said she’s currently practicing because she teaches different age groups and the choreography has to be modified based on the age group.

The Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Community and Cultural Center will start offering Aqua Zumba classes July 11. Classes will be held Wednesdays from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Membership and day passes are available to participate in the class.

The Grand Forks YMCA offers Aqua Zumba classes Fridays from 5 to 5:50 p.m.