Workout of the Month: Aqua Cardio & Senior Strong at the Springs Family YMCA

By Sponsored by the Springs Family YMCA – February 1, 2023
Brian Fitzsimmons

If you have physical limitations that prevent you from doing high-impact activities, the Springs Family YMCA has got you covered with their senior fitness classes including Aqua Cardio and Senior Strong.

Aqua Cardio

Aqua Cardio class.

The Aqua Cardio class led by Bernadette Johnson is more like a pool party than an exercise class. Johnson leads the group from poolside, dancing to a variety of upbeat songs. You can do the same with music from your phone or Bluetooth speaker.

  • Use your hands to displace water; try claw hands or scoop hands for more resistance or blade (flat/side) or fist for less resistance.
  • Keep one foot on the pool bottom for less impact or rebound to increase exertion.
  • Start with a march, arms pumping, then add side steps.
  • Sweep a bent leg forward and back while moving the arms forward and back at the same time; change sides.
  • Roll the shoulders forward and back and figure-eight each leg to loosen the hips, keeping the moving leg bent at a 90-degree bend.

After warming up for one or two songs, increase your intensity.

  • Change to forward leg swing, knee slightly bent, swinging arms, for 30 seconds. Switch legs.
  • Do single-leg sidestep or, if able, jumping jacks, again for 30 seconds.
  • Change to cross-country ski, arms and legs stretching long.
  • Bend slightly forward from the waist, keeping your elbows pinned to the side and scooping the water up, then pushing away, all while jogging.
  • Keeping water at shoulder depth, sweep arms with force, forward and back.
  • Sweep water from one side to the other hip, while crunching the knee up; repeat on the other side.

Repeat all the above for as many cycles as you choose, and make sure you do it with gusto! 

Senior Strong

Senior Strong class.

Annette Hiller’s Senior Strong class is one of the most popular at the branch. Here’s a quick, smaller version of a typical workout: 

Warm-Up: 3 minutes

Take time to warm up the muscles by marching a couple of eight counts to a song. Move to a step-touch side-to-side movement. 

Cardio/Bodyweight: 5 minutes

Begin with your step-touch side-to-side movement from the warm-up and increase the width of your feet until they’re outside your shoulder width and lean to each side, tapping the toe of the opposite foot. Swing your arms low from side to side like a pendulum. Then, lift the arms to shoulder height and swing directly across for a couple of 8-counts. For the remaining time, alternate 8-counts of marching in place, running in place and power squats, extending your hands overhead each time you rise.

Weights/Bands: 3-6 minutes

You can modify by sitting at the front of a chair, using no weights in your hands or even helping to brace with hands on the thighs as you rise. Alternate 8-counts of deadlifts, upright rows and overhead extensions.

Next, introduce several 8-counts of bicep curls, then tricep kickbacks using a ski squat stance. Sit on the front part of the chair. To do a chest press, push the fist holding onto the bands forward at chest level under the shoulders. Complete three 8-count of chest presses.

To do a fly with bands hands, hold onto the bands with arms extended wide, a slight bend in the elbow and then squeeze knuckles together in front of the chest and repeat. Complete two 8-counts of these.

Abdominals: 1-2 minutes

Sit with your arms holding bands extended at a 45-degree angle toward the ceiling, sitting in the front third of the chair, with no support from the back. Do two 8-count sets of slow crunches followed by two 8-count sets of side crunches. 

Cool Down/Stretch: 2 minutes

Seated in front of your chair, stretch your hamstring, chest, upper back and shoulder. Then, stretch your hip and quads. Finally, stand and stretch your calves.

For more information about senior programs at the YMCA of Austin, visit


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