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Benefits of Aquafitness 

Benefits of the Magical Properties of Water

A. Positive Effects of Buoyancy: A Summary 

  1. Buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity on movement: An individual who weighs 70 kg on land will weigh about 7 kg in neck deep water. Populations who have load bearing difficulty on land (including obese, frail elderly, arthritic, disabled, injured, and women in the childbearing year, athletes who have been overtraining on land, people with other kinds of painful joint disorders) will exercise in relative comfort and ease in the water.

  2. Decreased gravity results in decreased joint loading: When the bones within a joint are not forced together by gravity, the joint may have slightly increased range of motion and movement comfort. CALA vertical water training exercises using “The Charlene Kopansky Method” are designed to encourage full range of motion. The benefits of this include increased joint mobility and resistance to joint injury.

  3. The force of buoyancy assists venous return: On land, the downward force of gravity pushes the blood toward the feet. The cardiovascular system must work against gravity to return blood to the heart. In the water, the up-thrust of buoyancy counteracts the downward pull of gravity, assisting venous return. This will contribute to lower exercise heart rates during vertical aquatic training, however this does not imply that the training effect is lower.

B. Positive Effects of Hydrostatic Pressure (HP): A Summary

  1. Venous return and cardiac function are greatly enhanced by HP during vertical water training.

  2. HP assists participants to exercise more vigorously with less strain on the cardiovascular system and a reduced training heart rate for a given level of exertion (as compared to land exercise). This does not imply that the training effect is lower.

  3. HP reduces swelling of injured or edematous (swollen) joints or limbs below the water. This effect is enhanced with greater depth of immersion.

  4. The pressure of water on the chest wall creates a training effect for the respiratory muscles. This pressure may be excessive for people with poor respiratory health and /or  compromised respiratory system.

C. Positive Effects of Turbulence: A Summary

  1. Currents and eddies in the water massage the skin, promoting circulation, relaxation and increased pain tolerance.

  2. Turbulence contributes to the resistance felt in aquatic exercise (see Coefficient of Drag, PD equation, Resistance earlier in this chapter).

  3. The core muscles become stronger as participants learn to stabilize their bodies against turbulence.

  4. Balance is challenged and trained by turbulence.

  5. Exercises can be designed to work with or against turbulence, thereby increasing or decreasing intensity.

  6. Turbulence enhances venous return thus lowering the exercise heart rate as compared to the same exercise intensity on land. This does not imply a lower training effect.

D. Positive Effects of Thermal Conductivity: A Summary

For all of the following points, it is assumed that vertical water training is being conducted in the appropriate water temperature.

  1. The water “wicks” away excess body heat during VWT using the “Charlene Kopansky Method”, creating a cool, comfortable environment for vigorous exercise.

  2. Blood that would be shunted to the skin for cooling (on land) is available to the working muscles when exercising in water.

  3. The heart does not have to work as hard as it does on land to assist with thermoregulation of the working body.

  4. Pool temperatures can be altered to meet the needs of special groups, from rehabilitation (31° to 37°C / 88° to 98°F), to intense athletic training (around 27°C).

E. Positive Effects of Water‟s Resistance: A Summary

  1. Pressure Drag: The force and energy required to move through water develops muscle and bone strength as well as cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Remember that the resistance of water will only be effective if limbs are kept under the water when moving.

  2. Accommodation: By changing hand / foot configuration, lever lengths, speed or range of motion, the work done during vertical water exercise is readily altered to suit a variety of participant needs.

  3. Multidirectional Resistance: Resistance to movement in all directions fosters balanced muscle usage and training. VWT can be classified in a category of “All Gain, No Pain”, according to fellow aqua enthusiast, Irene Wallin, formerly of H2Oz, Australia. Water accommodates all levels of fitness.

  4. Action-Reaction Forces (Newton.s Third Law): When proper alignment and movement technique are taught and maintained in vertical water training, many muscle groups must be recruited to stabilize the body. These challenges ultimately develop coordination (an essential component of fitness) as they increase core strength and stability.

  5. Dampening Effect: Movements are slower and less likely to be jerky in water.

In short, you are getting a complete overall full body workout, without the impact to your joints, you won’t get hot, you won’t get nearly as winded, the risk of DOMS ( the muscle soreness the next day) is greatly reduced, and you are having fun! You have an effective way to get a complete overall workout without feeling like you have.

There are so many benefits to exercising in water that it is worth the ‘first day of kindergarten’ feeling you may experience because you are learning how to use your body effectively without the normal stresses that gravity and exertion normally put us through.

Who Benefits? Everyone Who Tries It!

 All Ages - youth through older adults Males and females

Athletes such as: runners and marathoners, football, basketball, soccer, rugby players, swimmers, weight lifters, walkers, gymnasts and skiers Dancers

Health and wellness conscious people

Rehabilitation patients ex: breast cancer, accident recovery, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, cardio, sport injuries and joint rehabilitation

Weight, strength, stature and mobility challenged people Pre and post natal

Fitness enthusiasts

Persons looking for cross training

Persons who are unable to exercise due to weather conditions


What Are the Benefits of Exercising in Water?

  • Multiple muscles can be worked at the same time or you can isolate specific muscles.

  • Each participant is able to work at their own intensity unlike land sessions where you feel it is necessary to keep up with the instructor.

  • Participants feel safe in the water. They are not going to fall and hurt themselves- They work in water that is at a level comfortable to them.

 The Five "Magical Properties of Water"

 CALA Aquafitness Movements Use the 5 Properties of Water.

Learn more about: Buoyancy, Thermal Connectivity, Hydrostatic Pressure, Turbulence, Resistance

 Water workouts are a great way to get fit and to keep fit! The unique physical properties of water provide an ideal environment for exercise. The natural buoyancy of water reduces weight bearing stress, allowing greater ease of movement with less strain on bones, joints, and muscles. The increased density of water creates even and fluid resistance in all directions, comfortably toning and strengthening muscles with greater balance and efficiency. Turbulence, hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, resistance and thermal conductivity are all properties that make water a magical environment in which to move.


Water is Magical - Turbulence

  • Currents in the water massage the skin, promoting circulation and relaxation

  • Turbulence contributes to the resistance felt in aquatic exercise Turbulence creates an unstable environment encouraging the core muscles of the body to become stronger to maintain correct position and posture. Turbulence can be manipulated to make an exercise easier or harder.


Water is Magical - Resistance


  • The density of water is approximately 1000 times greater than air.

  • The intensity of the exercise can be increased or decreased by changing hand positions (surface area). The hand positions include the following choices for a participant:


1. Slice: easiest intensity in terms of surface area

2. Fist: moderate intensity in terms of surface area

3. Flat hand: hardest intensity in terms of surface area

4. Specific hand-held Equipment: has the potential to be a much higher level of intensity in terms of surface area


  • The intensity of the workout can be greatly altered by changing shape / size / and, or speed of the moving body parts. Increasing the speed of motion while maintaining surface area and range of motion will cause an exponential increase in the work done.

  • Every movement performed under the water will encounter resistance. This means that the body will meet resistance in every direction of movement.

  • Resistance of water dampens the speed of motion and the end point of each movement thus preventing or diminishing the occurrence of jerky movements and the risk of injury.

  • The energy expenditure in water is similar or greater than on land because more stabilizer muscles are used during water exercise, especially if it is performed while suspended in deep water.


Water is Magical - Buoyancy

  • The buoyancy of water decreases the amount of shock which is transmitted through the bones/joints/ligaments on landing, while in chest deep water. In deep water, there is no impact, therefore no shock to the body.

  • Buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity: Body weight is reduced by 75– 90% (chest to neck level immersion). An individual who weighs 70kg on land will weigh about 7kg in neck deep water. Special populations including the obese, the elderly who may have fragile bones, the arthritic, the disabled, the injured athlete, as well as pre and post natal women will exercise with relative ease in the water.

  • Range of motion is increased; this improves joint mobility and contributes to dynamic flexibility

  • The force of buoyancy assists in venous return. On land, the downward force of gravity pushes blood toward the feet. The cardiovascular system works against gravity to return blood to the heart. In the water, the up-thrust of buoyancy counteracts the downward pull of gravity thus assisting with venous return. This will contribute to lower exercise heart rates during aqua-fitness!

Water is Magical - Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) 

  • Water exerts pressure against the body acting like a full body support hosiery during water exercise.

  • The heart rate is lowered without losing cardiovascular or aerobic training effects including the following:


  1. HP assists participants to exercise more vigorously with less strain on the cardiovascular system.

  2. HP reduces swelling in injured/swollen joints or limbs that are immersed.

  3. The pressure of water on the chest wall creates a training effect for the respiratory muscles

Water is Magical - Thermal Conductivity 

  • Water conducts heat approximately 25 times faster than air.

  • The water ‘wicks’ away excess body heat during exercise, creating a cool, comfortable workout environment.

  • Blood that would be shunted to the skin for cooling is available to deliver oxygen and remove waste products from the working muscles

  • The heart does not have to work at keeping the body cool, instead it works to enable the workout to continue.

  • The recommended pool temperature for aqua-fitness is between 82-87F.


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