Peter Brown leads deep-end water aerobics classes three days a week at the Ballard Pool.
Water aerobics instructor kicks classes up a notch
By Lindsay Pease
Peter Brown grabs the diving board rails, lifting and swinging his legs like a pendulum.
“Pull both legs up to your right, and you better feel this in your obliques or you’re not doing it right,” he says. Next he jogs, cross-country skis and does crunches on the pool deck. While he breaks a sweat out of the water, Hydrofit/Deep Water exercise students mimic his moves under water.
Brown, 21, teaches Hydrofit classes three times a week at the Ballard Pool. Deep water exercisers first clip on a buoyancy belt, then select foam weights to hold for more water resistance. Some more experienced students wear foot weights and resistance gloves. Once class starts, Brown leads the class in interval exercises, increasing in speed and intensity each time. He likes to keep the class fast-paced, despite that it’s harder to do the exercises in the water than out.
“If I go slow, I don’t seem like I’m trying and the class won’t meet my intensity.”
With several heads bobbing in the water and the stereo blasting “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” the energy in the pool is palpable. Men and women of all ages jog, flutter kick and follow Brown through a series of exercises and stretches for 45 minutes. The students usually sleep well after the evening classes, said Brown.
Water aerobics is renowned for its therapeutic qualities for joint pain, but also is a way to burn a few hundred calories while staying cool in the water. It’s great exercise for anyone, Brown said, especially those with any type of sports injury since it is no-impact. The Hydrofit class is a mix of cardio, weights and some Pilates moves all done with a water buoyancy belt that keeps students in an upright position. Water is a softer landing than the pool deck, though.
“I haven’t fallen in, but I have fallen over,” Brown said. “ I was demonstrating surface kicks and got hung up on a rubber mat on the deck. The class regulars laughed, and I was more embarrassed than anything else.”
The atmosphere during classes is jovial, with music blaring, lap swimmers in their lanes and the shallow end filled with another water exercise class. Brown keeps students focused on moves like the speed skater, one of his favorites since it works the chest, arms and glute muscles. He gets such a good workout teaching class that he only supplements it with a little running each week, and does not swim that much outside of work.
A Ballard native, Brown is no stranger to the pool. He was on the Ballard swim team for a year in high school until he began lifeguarding. Most any day of the week, he can be found teaching classes or lessons. His favorite part of his job is teaching swimming lessons, especially getting kids to thrive in the water even if they were terrified at first.
“It’s rewarding to find what works for them,” he said. Brown teaches four individual lessons and 15 group lessons a week, plus deep-end water aerobics. Brown is saving money to travel to Europe or Africa for a few months, and to do some personal training. He’s unsure of his future career plans, but in the meantime can be found teaching and motivating students at the Ballard Pool.
For the Ballard Pool class schedule visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/aquatics/Pools/ballard/schedule.htm or call (206) 684-4094 for more information.
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