I was very excited to learn that we have a local facility that has a Hydroworx pool. What is that you ask? It’s a small 4-person pool with a treadmill floor bottom. I mean how cool is that? The pool itself is not meant for swimming laps – it’s way too small for that. You do not even climb into the pool – it rises up and lowers down with you! And, they keep it at a very toasty 89 degrees. I love warm water and hate being cold, so that sounded heavenly. Plus, it was the perfect thing to try as I recovered from my broken toe.
In order to sign up for a class, you had to take a 15 minute intro session so they could determine your speed. I went in one Saturday and was lowered into the pool. That part was great! The sports therapist then monitored me walking and running at various speeds. The treadmill can go up to 8.5 mph. There is a bar that lowers down in front of you that you can hold onto. They also can turn on the jets to create greater resistance. 3 underwater cameras record your stride. The entire pool is only 8 feet x 12 feet and the water level is kept below the shoulder level of the shortest person (that would be me!) so you don’t even get your hair wet. There is also a TV at eye level to watch.
I took the pace testing class in early October. My toe was in the early recovery stages and I was taking it slow. I also had the wrong water shoes on. I was wearing shower slippers and when she sped the treadmill up, they slipped off. I now have 2 pairs of real water shoes (from Dicks Sporting Goods, end of season on sale- ca-ching!) so I am all set. You can also go barefoot, but I need to protect my broken toe, so I am being extra pre-cautious. At first, it felt kind of weird when the floor was moving beneath you. But, it was a good weird. I decided to sign up for a session. The only bad part is having to wear a bathing suit. I’m hoping that having to wear a bathing suit more often will motivate me to get back into shape.
Based on the speed of the treadmill, you can walk or run. You may not feel like you are sweating, but you can definitely feel it. Just like any workout, you get out of it what you put into it. Some elite runners use these types of pools to train, as you can see in this very short VIDEO CLIP of a runner training in the same type of pool as he prepared for the 2012 Olympic Trials this past summer.
If you hate treadmill running/walking, you still might want to give this type of workout a try. I used to force myself to run on a treadmill in the Winter when it was too slippery, snowy and dark to be outside. It got to the point where I hated treadmills so much that I would just bundle up and risk a Raynauds attack in my hands and run outside in the bitter cold. But, after getting injured (neck and toe) and putting on weight, I decided to give myself a break and do something different. Also, since my home treadmill died and I quit the cheapo gym I had joined, it was time to move on.
I feel very fortunate that I found a place with this state of the art pool. It’s very affordable too – the class cost no more than any regular aerobics class you would take and you do not have to be a member. The benefits of this type of exercise are many – it’s low impact and great for anyone who has had injuries or just for people who want a change of pace with less joint impact of traditional running on land. Some of the classes also incorporate hand weights in the pool. And, unlike the traditional treadmill workout, I actually looked forward to getting into the pool.
I have 6 sessions to see how it works out for me. So far, so good. I’m trying to not punish myself with exercise like I tend to do when I am feeling out of shape and huge, and just enjoy the movement. If you have the opportunity to give one of these pools a try, I highly recommend it!