SOAP-y Aquatic Programs

As aquatic exercise experts, we all know that working in the water offers many benefits that are often more difficult to achieve on land. Just being in an aquatic environment provides compression from hydrostatic pressure that reduces swelling and provides resistance to strengthen muscles used in breathing. Turbulence created by others in the water or other sources that cause water movement activates core muscles that are important for stabilizing the trunk and maintaining functional postures. Water buoyancy offloads joints, reducing the effects of gravity and allowing for ease of movement. The water is a safe and effective place to challenge balance without worry of injury from falling.


Our clients come to us with particular wants and needs. In a rehab setting, therapists go through a regimented examination process using standardized tests and measures and processes to localize dysfunction from illness or injury. What we learn guides goal setting and determination of appropriate treatment processes. Healthcare workers often look to the SOAP acronym to do this: Gather SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE information, ASSESS that information to determine goals, and make a PLAN. This organized approach links patient needs to a path to improvement.


Those who attend aquatic wellness classes to be healthy and stay fit have a wide array of fun and creative options to consider. There are classes that incorporate yoga postures, pilates exercises and artistic synchronized swimming movements. Float fit classes use tethered mats floating on the water to provide a challenging exercise venue. Aqua Zumba incorporates fun dance steps and music. Aqua aerobics provide active movement in multiple planes in the water at varying paces. Ai Chi promotes mindfulness, with a focus on breathing and motion to bring relaxation and calm while stretching, broadening excursion and activating core muscles. The possibilities are almost endless. The key to a successful outcome in an aquatic therapy or a wellness program lies in matching the program with the desired goals. Whether this is therapist or personal trainer led, or initiated by the client, we need to be equipped to guide and provide the right options for successful outcomes for those we teach.

Join me on Saturday, December 2, 2023 for a class entitled “Integrating Aquatic Gains into ADLs” (activities of daily living). We will explore ways to make successful transitions from aquatic programs to functional gains on land, at the upcoming ATRI/AEA Chicagoland National Aquatic Therapy Conference . Ai Chi certification will also be offered at this conference!

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Writen by mpierce

MS PT, Northwestern University; BS PT, St Louis University; CEEAA; ATRIC; Ai Chi Trainer since 2015; De-Mystifying Mindfulness by Universiteit Leiden on Coursera, Certificate earned on November 4, 2017;

3 thoughts on “SOAP-y Aquatic Programs

  1. I enjoy your Sanibel smile with your motion of the ocean. I find your pool work so very important for my total being. Keep up the great influence you give to us all.

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