vertical water training

A New Way to Train in Water

Lisa Austin Exercise and Form, Most Recent

Vertical Water Training… Have you ever heard of it? Got an idea what it could be?

I had some ideas but I was in for something new to pique my interest and a new way to challenge my body while adding some variety to the everyday same ol’. If you were like me, I knew training in the water was good for your joints and people who suffer with arthritis but, honestly, I knew little else about it up until recently.

I don’t know about you, but I had these preconceived notions that it was only for specific types of people and not everyone would be able to benefit from Aqua training. I am happy to say, I was wrong. 🙂

I am always looking to expand my knowledge so I can train people in a variety of different ways while keeping it interesting and I had the opportunity recently, to learn Vertical Aqua Training, the Charlene Kopansky Method and I was definitely intrigued about what I learned.

There are a variety of forces including action-reaction, pressure drag, buoyancy and turbulence that are acting on the body during vertical water training and makes exercising in water beneficial and challenging for just about anyone who wishes to build and stabilize your core and have resistance without the effects of gravity on your joints. Another benefit is you don’t need to have any equipment because the water is your resistance and the best part is it’s fun! No one can see if you mess up so there is no comparing yourself to those more experienced than you. 🙂

During the training, I needed a little time to adjust to exercising in water following the Charlene Kopansky Method as it’s different than anything I have ever done before but once I was able to embrace it and connect with the feedback about my alignment, I was able to learn how to stabilize my core, the exercise movements become safer, more effective and a lot more fun!

“The mind thinks, the body moves, the spirit sores”

Below are just a few of the key elements of vertical water training that could make this your NEW favourite way to work your body!

Key Elements for Vertical Water Training

vertical water training

people in a pool doing the water training

Photo credit: Cala Inc


Because you are working your hands and your arms at the same time you are developing core stability, requiring both muscular effort and mental focus with kinesthetic awareness. For an effective workout you must learn how to get your mind working with your body, literally, keeping you on your toes and being more alert.


Water is your resistance to movement in all directions which balances your muscle usage during training. Vertical water training can be classified as “All gain, No pain”. Water can effectively accommodate all levels of fitness using only your body as it moves through the water and without needing any exercise equipment.


With vertical water training your resistance is your body moving through the water. You can change your resistance by changing your hand or leg positions and varying the speeds of how fast you move your body


Due to aquatic turbulence, there is no resting in position in the water making it a ‘whole body’ workout just being in the water. Muscles must work constantly to stabilize the body against any unwanted movement. A strong core is essential to maintain correct alignment and enjoy the movements of the session. Turbulence create a wonderful training opportunity for all those core areas.


The force of buoyancy is another feature of vertical water training that makes it different from land exercise against gravity. Buoyancy is an upward force that counteracts the downward force of gravity. This reduces impact forces on your joints and aids in blood flow from the extremities to the heart. When you are submerged in water chest deep you are only feeling 25% of the normal gravitational force, and in neck-deep water, you are only feeling 10% of the gravitational force.

Hydrostatic pressure

This pressure is an inward, squeezing force equal to the weight of the water above the point of immersion. When you are in a standing position in chest deep or deep water, the feet are experiencing a great deal more hydrostatic pressure than the abdomen. As a result, fluids in the vertical body are shifted upward from the feet towards the chest and heart areas. The return of blood from the feet and legs to the heart (venous return) is greatly enhanced. The heart pumps more efficiently and less frequently as a result which means your exercise heart rate during water vertical training is going to be substantially lower than what it would be for the same level of exertion on land or even horizontal swimming training.

Thermal conductivity

Exercising in water cooler than the body increases blood supply to working muscles allowing longer, stronger, more comfortable performance of exercise. The thermal conductivity of water (at recreational pool temperatures) effectively transmits heat away from the exercising body, reducing the need for blood flow to the skin. Basically, it means that you feel like you’re not exerting as much because your body isn’t getting as hot and having to work so hard to cool yourself back down again.

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.

Make sure to check your local gym to find out if they will be offering this type of training or group fitness class. If you are in the London, Ontario area, the Local YMCA offers these sessions already.