Aqua Zumba in full swing at Plains Pool

  • Published
  • By David Poe
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Deep into her third trimester, Melissa Turner, a Vance spouse, had a fitness problem.

She loved putting in the time in the gym and on the track to stay in shape, but tough bouts with morning sickness, a lessened range of motion while pregnant, and a health concern over returning to the high-impact fitness regimen kept her away from working out until she saw two words on the Bradley Fitness and Sports Center's Facebook page: Aqua Zumba. 

A combination of the well-known dance fitness craze with the benefits of hydro-exercise, Bradley has offered Aqua Zumba classes, Fridays at 9 a.m., for more than a month.

A new part of Bradley's group exercise offerings, Karen Higbee, a licensed Zumba Fitness instructor who leads the class, prefers to call it "a party."

"It's so fun," said Higbee, who leads the class at a frenzied pace along the pool's apron while students follow along from the water below. "You still have the Salsa and the Reggaeton, the Merengue and the belly dancing -- there have been studies that music makes you feel good. Class participation is what makes it fun. A party with ten people is always better than a party with one person."

Although Zumba classes may thrive off of party energy, Higbee said Zumba is a comprehensive workout. Also, people at different fitness levels can conceivably benefit from taking the same class and incorporating the pool into the dance routine multiplies its effectiveness in offering something for everybody.

"The larger you make your movements, the more strenuous the workout is going to be," she said. "The beginner can also benefit from the same class with smaller movements and motions, and still get a good workout. The water also makes it challenging, because it provides a natural resistance."

She added that for the same reasons, Aqua Zumba can be a chance for people recovering from injuries to tailor their range of motion to their recovery stages without the burden of weight bearing they'd experience in a traditional group exercise room.

Kellie Jensen, the Vance fitness program manager, said Aqua Zumba is one example of a resurgence of group exercise choices for Team Vance in the post 2008 sequestration era, and Higbee's initiative to bring the class on base was an easy equation.

"In past years we haven't offered a lot of (traditional) water aerobics classes, because I didn't really think we had that high of a demand," she said. "When (Higbee) said she was getting her aqua Zumba certification and wanted to teach it here this summer, I thought what an awesome opportunity to bring something different and still incorporate Zumba, which is one of our most popular classes. People get bored with their workouts if they're doing the same thing day-in and day-out."

For Turner, Aqua Zumba has instead been a return to challenging exercise as her due date approaches. An alternative from the norm has become the norm.

"I think Aqua Zumba is a good workout," she said. "It's less impact and I feel like I weigh less under the water. It's a good way to meet people too."

She encourages others to join her and her new friends in the pool as their calorie-burning party continues throughout the summer.

"If I can do it pregnant," she said, "you can do it. It's fun."

Higbee welcomes eligible participants who are 10 and older, although those younger than 16 must be a part of Bradley's Youth Fitness Program. A seasonal pool pass is not required to take the class, and it doesn't require swimming.

For more information on Aqua Zumba and the many other fitness classes offered at Vance, stop by Bradley's front desk for a listing. You can also follow the Bradley fitness staff on Facebook under "Vance AFB Bradley Fitness and Sports Center" and visit their website at