Written by Sue Nelson, Aquatic Program Design Specialist
Total Aquatic Programming. LLC

Asking a question is much better than assuming you know the answer.  This is especially applicable in any aquatic business. Many times, we assume we know what is happening, but we may only know bits and pieces of what is going on. 

Example: let’s take aquatic exercise and how the average person views it.

Even though aquatic exercise (vertical) has evolved throughout the years, many people still assume it is not as beneficial when compared to swimming or land exercise. 

I want to be clear, when I say aquatic exercise, I am referring to exercise in the vertical plane, shallow or deep water. You can also exercise in the horizontal plane; this is called swimming.  Note: National survey by the American Red Cross finds more than half of all Americans (54%) can’t swim or perform basic swim safety skills. 

Considering that 54% of the Americans can’t swim, is there a way to let them know they do not have to swim to gain the benefits of exercising in the water?   

Marketing with different terminology is a way to start debunking the myths about the effectiveness of aquatic exercise and how it is for EVERYONE! 

Myths that aquatic exercise professionals are still trying to debunk. 

  1. You must know how to swim to use the water for exercise
  2. You must be an older person to use the water for exercise
  3. You can’t get a good workout in the water
  4. You must be injured to exercise in the water 

Water aerobics evolved in the 1950s led by a man (TV star) named Jack Lalanne.  It did not really become mainstream until the 1970’s and 1980’s. The “older population” was the first to take an interest in this type of exercise because it has a low impact on bones and joints.  Now, younger folks take interest because they realized the benefits of water exercise applied to them also.

We’ve come a long way in how we define water exercise, how we market it, and how consumers search for exercise options online. 

Today the internet has provided us with the ability to collaborate more easily with other aquatic professionals.  We can more conveniently understand and follow the science that is ever evolving.                                                                           

This has created the need to develop programs for people of all ages who want access to the healing properties of exercise in the water.

The internet is a massive place and the words we use can be marketing friendly yet confusing.  What if I said, “let’s go to the health club today”? Would you think I meant a “land health club”? Most likely you would assume I meant going to “land to exercise” because we do not use that term to refer to exercise in the water. 

However, that is exactly what is meant; an Aquatic Health Club. If we use the words ‘Aquatic Health Club’ in our marketing, consumers may begin to understand they can achieve all their desired fitness and health benefits in the water.    

Language changes in aquatic marketing material should reflect the actual value and specific objectives aquatic professionals are offering.  Descriptions of exercise in the water need to define and describe exactly what can be accomplished in the water. It’s aquatic exercise! Those descriptive words need to be included in internet search parameters and thus need to be included in your marketing material and on your web sites and in your daily conversations with consumers. 

According to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition 

  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle- strengthening activities
  • More than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth

Don’t ASSUME you know what is happening in the water at your local aquatic centers. Opportunity awaits. Check them out and see how much fun exercise can be for any age. Try exercising in the water to live a better functional live on land. 

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Juliene Hefter

Juliene is the Executive Director/CEO of AOAP. She has a background in running and operating diverse aquatic facilities and venues and is a national and international speaker on a variety of topics. She is also an expert witness/consultant.

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