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Linear choregraphy offers safe and effective transitions between exercises

The term choreography calls to mind dancers performing on a stage or in a music video. So, using the term for a water fitness class may seem intimidating. But it does not have to be complicated. Basically, choreography is your lesson plan. Writing choreography involves taking your list of exercises and organizing them in the order in which you plan to teach them. Your class will be more successful if you plan ahead so that you don't find yourself struggling to come up with exercises to fill the time.

 

To help you remember your choreography, you need to organize the exercises in a way that is logical to you. There are a variety of choreography styles that can be used to help you do this. The simplest is linear choreography. Linear choreography organizes the exercises in a “line,” that is, without patterns or repetitions.

 

SHALLOW-WATER EXAMPLE

The following is an example of linear choreography for a shallow-water class using just six basic exercises with variations. The six exercises are:

 

  1. Knee-high Jog
  2. Run Tires (wide jog, like running through tires at football practice)
  3. Jumping Jacks
  4. Cross-country Ski
  5. Kick Forward
  6. Heel-high Jog

 

The logic of using the exercises in this order is that it is easy to transition from one move to the next. From the knee-high jog, you move the legs farther apart to transition into running tires. Next, you bounce center and then legs apart for the jumping jacks. Ending the jacks with a center bounce, you can easily transition into cross-country ski. Remaining in the sagittal plane, switch the move to a forward kick. Finally, switch the leg movement from a forward emphasis to a posterior focus with the heel-high jog.

 

You can expand your creativity and offer variations of these basic movements.  Dividing the choreography into sets of moves will make it easier to remember everything you want to cover during the class. In this example, each set features variations of one of the six basic exercises.

 

Set A

Knee-high Jog with pressing arms

Knee-high Jog with pumping arms

Knee-high Jog tempo options (i.e. slow-slow-quick-quick-quick)

Leap forward

 

Set B

Run Tires with sculling arms

Run Tires with shoulder blade squeeze

Run Tires impact options (i.e. alternate Level I x4 and Level II x4)  

Leap laterally

 

Set C

Jumping Jacks with opposition arms

Jumping Jacks with hand clap front and back

Jumping Jacks impact options (i.e. Level II x8 and Level III x8)

Jumping Jacks with ¼ turn

 

Set D

Cross-country Ski with traditional arm swings

Cross-country Ski with windshield wiper arms

Cross-country Ski with acceleration (alternate with regular skis with power skis)

Cross-country Ski with 1/2 turn (i.e. R, L, R, L, R, L, R & ½ turn)

 

Set E

Kick Forward with arms pushing forward

Kick Forward with triceps extension

Kick Forward using acceleration (i.e. alternate kicks between low and high)

Kick Forward with travel (i.e. move backward in a circle)

 

Set F

Heel-high Jog with paddlewheel arms

Heel-high Jog with forearm press

Heel-high Jog & Hopscotch combination

Skip Rope travel forward in a circle

 

This should take approximately 20 minutes. Repeat the choreography a second time. Add a 5-minute warm-up at the beginning, 10 minutes of noodle or foam hand bar exercises afterwards, and 5 minutes of stretches at the end, and you have a 1-hour lesson plan ready to go.

 

 

DEEP-WATER MODIFICATIONS

The same basic choreography can be used for a deep-water class with a few modifications.  Leaping and skipping rope do not work in deep water.  The working positions of rebound (Level I), neutral (Level II) and suspended (Level III) apply to shallow water. Make substitutions for these exercises to make it appropriate for deep-water. Your choreography might look like this:

 

Set A

Knee-high Jog with pressing arms

Knee-high Jog with pumping arms

Knee-high Jog tempo options (i.e. slow-slow-quick-quick-quick)

Run forward

 

Set B

Run Tires with sculling arms

Run Tires with shoulder blade squeeze

Run Tires & Frog Kick combination

Over the Barrel travel laterally

 

Set C

Deep-water Jacks with opposition arms

Deep-water Jacks with hand clap front and back

Deep-water Jack & Jacks Tuck combination

Jumping Jacks with ¼ turn

 

Set D

Cross-country Ski with traditional arm swings

Cross-country Ski with windshield wiper arms

Cross-country Ski with acceleration (alternate with regular skis with power skis)

Cross-country Ski with 1/2 turn (i.e. R, L, R, L, R, L, R & ½ turn)

 

Set E

Kick Forward with arms pushing forward

Kick Forward with triceps extension

Kick Forward using acceleration (i.e. alternate kicks between low and high)

Kick Forward with travel (i.e. move backward in a circle)

 

Set F

Heel-high Jog with paddlewheel arms

Heel-high Jog with forearm press

Heel-high Jog & Hopscotch combination

Bicycle with travel (i.e. move forward in a circle)

 

Repeat your choreography a second time and add a 10-minute muscle conditioning or balance activities with noodles. After including a warm-up and stretches at the end, you now have a similar lesson plan for deep-water classes. 

 

 

SUMMARY

As you see, choreography does not have to imply complicated movement patterns or dance steps, it is simply a way to safely and effectively transition between exercises for a class that flows smoothly.  With variations of only six basic exercise, you now have two similar, ready to go lesson plans.  Use these routines for your shallow or deep class, be prepared the next time you need to teach a shallow-water and a deep-water class back to back, or explore a class that allows participants to train in shallow or deep water within a single class.  Linear choreography – it can be creative and versatile.

 

AUTHOR

Christine Alexander is the author of Water Fitness Lesson Plans and Choreography and a blog at www.waterfitnesslessons.wordpress.com. She is an AEA CEC provider and President of the Metroplex Association of Aquatic Professionals in Dallas, Texas.  She teaches water fitness classes for the City of Plano Parks & Recreation Department.  She holds certifications through AEA and USWFA.  Christine can be reached through her website at www.waterfitnesslessons.com