Since ancient times, water has been associated with exercise and good health, but in the past two decades aquatic exercise including aqua aerobics, deep-water running, shallow-water kickboxing, ai chi and various forms of strength training has come of age.

?In 1998, records indicated that 2 million people were exercising vertically aqua fitness rather than swimming in pools. Now we are at approximately 6.6 million people [according to] 2007 research reports,? says Angie Proctor, executive director of the Aquatic Exercise Association, a nonprofit organization formed in 1984 to promote aquatic fitness.

Several factors have impacted this growth, according to Proctor. These include:

  • Active seniors? continued desire for a fun, comfortable workout environment
  • The aging of the baby boomers
  • Increased programming and scheduling at pool facilities, which has made aquatic fitness competitive with dry-land group fitness offerings
  • More progressive opportunities and exercise formats led by AEA-certified professionals.

As a result of the increased popularity of aquatic exercise, classes have become a programming staple at almost every aquatics facility, bringing in a whole range of new patrons. ?What?s brought the most new people to pools is good instructors with motivating personalities combined with the fact that [younger] baby boomers and Generation X enjoy working out in the water, Proctor says. ?It?s not looked upon as [just] a senior environment [anymore].?