In the past year, there’s been an 8.4 percent jump in the number of people swimming for fitness, making it one of the fastest-growing workouts, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
“Swimming is amazing cardio, it improves full-body strength and flexibility and without impact on joints,” says Ellis Peters, a swim couch at Equinox in New York. “It’s also a great moving meditation. When you swim, you’re not distracted. You become focused on breathing and movement.”
The best part? Anyone can do it—no matter what your fitness level. Swimming is especially great for pregnant women, since it takes pressure off the spine and alleviates lower back pain. And with your doc’s OK, you can keep swimming until you deliver. Post-partum, it’s a gentle, low-impact way to get moving again.
If you’re a total novice, Ellis suggests signing up for a swim class as a refresher. Start off with very small goals and constantly work on your technique. And like anything, you only get better with practice. “If you take a one-hour class per week and practice two other times a week, you will progress,” he says.
We asked Peters for the best pool-specific workouts to help you get in summer-ready shape. Jump in, make a splash, and slim down with these moves:
-Swim 10, 25-yard laps. Take a break in between laps, but commit to the distance.
-To work your legs, grab a kickboard and a pair of fins and do 10 laps. Experiment with side kicks, too.
-To work your upper body, grab a pool buoy and use your arms to pull it through the water.
For an even bigger burn:
-Decrease rest time between laps