It can be surprising how much personal gear and equipment is available for water aerobics. The list may seem endless. So, what are the items needed for guaranteed success during group aqua classes?
Essential water aerobics equipment includes a swimsuit, water bottle, and a a pair of water shoes. Accessory equipment includes a UV protectant shirt and force gloves. Most water aerobic classes provide exercise equipment—like pool noodles and dumbbells—so check with your class prior to purchase.
Below, we will first outline what it is that you will need for your first day of class. Afterwards, we will then cover some of the equipment necessary for more advanced classes. Throughout the article, I will include recommendations on what products to purchase, along with what products don’t make the cut.
Swimwear for Water Aerobics
First, let’s start with the necessities. Knowing what to wear can be a little tricky. You certainly want to look your best, but you also want to feel comfortable.
I’ll give you some ideas here about where to start your search. I’ve broken it down into two categories: one-piece and two-piece swimsuits.
Keep in mind that most large public pool facilities regulate what you can wear. Some allow only one-piece suits for water aerobics classes, while others enable you to wear a two-piece bathing suit. It all depends on what they deem to be “appropriate.”
It’s best to familiarize yourself with the local facility’s dress code before shopping for gear.
There is a considerable variety of one-piece swimsuits, so it’s best to select one designed specifically for water aerobics. The CharmLeaks Women’s Sport Pro One Piece Swimsuit is a solid starting point.
The best thing about this swimsuit is that it’s mostly designed for comfort. This stylish one-piece features a stretch fabric, wide shoulder pads, as well as a built-in, wireless bra.
If you want a little extra coverage in the leg area, you are in luck. Beautyin makes a “boyleg” swimsuit that offers a more modest look by providing greater coverage around the leg than standard one-piece suits.
For athletic swimwear, SYROKAN two-piece athletic swimsuits are of decent quality without having to pay a fortune. The bikini bottoms fit snug, so you may want to size up, just to be safe.
Surprisingly, two-piece swimsuits can add to the modesty of your look. For example, American Trends’ Tankini Top Swimsuit features boyshorts combined with a beautiful criss-cross back top.
This attractive ensemble showcases a trendy-looking print design, a removable sports bra, and adjustable shoulder straps. Also, it comes in a wide variety of designs and colors.
What About Plus-Size Swimsuits?
Daci’s Classic Fashion Collection is the go-to place for plus-size swimwear. They feature a wide selection of classic and modern-design looks to meet every taste and budget. They have fashionable one-piece and two-piece suits available in most regular sizes as well as plus sizes.
Hydration is just as important in the pool as it is on land. You should have a water bottle on hand at all times, whether you are working out with water aerobics or you’re just splashing around with the kids.
Any water bottle you would normally take to the gym will do. Just make sure it’s spill-proof and is tight enough so chlorinated water won’t seep into your nice, clean drinking water.
A reliable economy water bottle to consider is the Contigo Ashland Autospout Water Bottle. It has a push-button spout and a built-in protective cover. It comes in a wide assortment of colors.
On the higher end is the LaserGram 32oz Water Bottle. It has several attractive features, for instance:
- stainless steel construction
- dual insulation
- capacity to hold hot and cold liquids
- personalized engraving included
Even though most of your body weight is taken up by the water’s buoyancy, you’re not entirely weightless. You still have some forces acting on your feet when you exercise. That’s where water shoes come in.
Lightweight aqua-shoes help absorb the forces acting on the feet and ankles during water aerobic exercise. They also add traction, so you don’t fall on slippery surfaces. They keep you safe, all the while protecting the bottom of your delicate feet.
There are two general types of water shoes: lace-up and slip-on.
When browsing through water shoes, here’s what to look for:
- Thick, Firm Soles – Even though your weight is reduced by almost 70% in the water, you still impact your feet and ankles considerably as you exercise. Not only do thick, firm soles help cushion the pounding, they also keep your feet from twisting beyond their limits.
- Flexibility in the Arch Region – By having shoes that can flex, you can move freely during the workout and perform the exercises unencumbered.
An excellent lace-up water shoe is the Ryka Women’s Hydro Sport with a thick, rubber sole for superior cushioning. It also has a fair amount of support while maintaining flexibility in the arch.
If you prefer a slip-on version, I recommend Watelves Water Shoes. The color and pattern selection is stunning, with over 40 pairs to choose from. Also, they are priced reasonably considering their superior quality.
Are Regular Running Shoes Okay to Wear Instead?
Most public pools prohibit normal running shoes because they prohibit streetwear (source). The main reason behind this is that public pools don’t want to allow outside contaminants to enter their pools and endanger the safety of others. Keeping pool areas disinfected and free of germs is hard enough without people wearing streetwear.
As an aside, it is best never to wear your water shoes outside of any pool facility. It would defeat the purpose of having them in the first place.
Long-Sleeve, UV Protectant Shirts
If you have fair skin or just want to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays, then a long-sleeve UV water shirt is necessary. One of my favorite examples is CharmLeaks’ Long Sleeve UPF 50 Swimsuit Top. It helps block harmful UVA and UVB rays—which are the chief culprits of sunburn—while maintaining a high comfort level during most water sports activities (source).
Want to look a little less sporty and a lot more fashionable? Here’s your chance with ATTRACO’s Two-Piece Swimsuit featuring their stylish, crop-top long-sleeve shirt. It boasts a wide variety of floral print designs on a unique 4-way stretch fabric.
For plus sizes, LALAGEN offers a beautiful two-piece swimsuit that features a long-sleeve, UV water shirt. This well-fitting ensemble also comes with boyleg bottoms that match perfectly with the top. The soft material is a nice touch too, maximizing comfort throughout.
Chlorine-Resistant Force Gloves
Force gloves fit over your hands like mittens and resemble a paddle or an oar for a row-boat. They are a great way to help you transition from zero upper-body resistance to a small amount of force without the need for special equipment. Most manufacturers claim that you can get as much as 50% more resistance than just using your hands to exercise.
A mid-priced offering to consider is the Water Gear Fingerless Force Gloves. They are chlorine-resistant and have a zipper on the side for easy slip-on and removal.
It is worth mentioning that there are a wide variety of force gloves available. DarkFin’s Webbed Power Swimming Gloves are a prime example.
Originally designed for scuba diving and snorkeling, these webbed gloves can also be used for water aerobics. Although they may not be the most attractive in appearance, they’re made with quality materials that hold up well under standard conditions.
Personal Gear: Intermediate and Advanced Classes
Once you have taken a few beginner’s classes, it’s likely that you’ll progress onward to intermediate or advanced classes. These can either be in the form of martial arts-style group sessions or dance aerobics classes, like Zumba for instance (source).
Large pools at aquatic centers and universities usually provide the equipment listed here, with the exception of some personal gear that you wear on your body. With that said, it’s in your best interest to know what’s available, just in case the class you enrolled in does not provide any exercise equipment.
Certain aquatic exercises require you to lean back slightly, use your arms more, or simply kick vigorously in the water, which is where pool noodles come into play. They give you enough extra buoyancy to perform advanced and intermediate exercises without having to invest a considerable amount of money into equipment.
They are usually made of durable foam material and come in several colors. The standard size for pool noodles is 52 inches, although they are available in various lengths. Most have a hollowed-out middle to provide extra flexibility.
You can’t just buy one pool noodle; you have to buy them in a set.
Oodles of Noodles is not only a company with a funny name. They are a leader in the aquatic equipment industry. The company offers a mid-priced Set of Five Foam Noodles that feature a durable coating to make them last longer.
Your water aerobics instructor may require you to have a foam kickboard. There are several you can choose from for under $20. The Pro Aviana Junior Kickboard is a solid choice to get the most bang for your buck.
If you progress to a deep-water class, your instructor will require you to have some type of flotation device that will keep you afloat for the duration of the workout. A noodle or other device you have to hold onto, such as a kickboard, won’t work in this instance.
Your hands need to be free to work in tandem with your legs so you can get the maximum benefit. After all, isn’t that the reason you signed for an advanced class?
There are two varieties of flotation devices, in my opinion: inexpensive and expensive. Of course, just like everything else, you get what you pay for.
One of the more economical flotation belts is the Noa Store Swim Belt. At first glance, it appears that the manufacturer cut slits through six yoga blocks and stuck a one-inch belt through them. Still, the materials are of fair quality and generally hold up well for the purposes of water aerobics class.
But if you are over 150 lbs, you may want to consider a flotation that you can have complete confidence in. That’s where the Aqua Jogger comes in. It’s patented contour design and closed-foam technology ensures that you will stay afloat during the entire workout.
Aquatic Ankle Weights
Water walking in shallow water is an effective cardio workout. It also strengthens the major muscles in the legs, improving both stability and balance.
Supplementing this activity with ankle weights can significantly boost the stimulus on your cardiovascular system and dramatically increase the amount of calories you burn.
One of the favorites among aquatic fitness trainers is the All-Pro Aquatic Ankle Weights Set, specially designed for water fitness activities. They have a contoured shape and are water-resistant.
Unlike regular dumbbells you find in a gym or a health club, aquatic dumbbells weigh only a few ounces. They are typically made of dense foam with a lightweight plastic handle in the middle for the grip.
They usually come in three different sizes:
- Small – for light resistance
- Medium – for mid-level resistance
- Large – for heavy resistance
When shopping for aquatic dumbbells, keep in mind that it’s not the weight that matters, but the size. By having a larger surface pushing against the water, the force required to move the object is greater, and so it feels “heavier” (source).
The first choice for both instructors and students is Bintiva’s Aqua Dumbbell Set. All their products come with these quality features:
- high-grade, durable foam
- padded, cushioned grip for added comfort
- wide variety of sizes for all fitness levels
It may seem strange at first, but there are aqua barbell sets available. The purpose is similar to that of dumbbells: to increase the resistance mainly for upper body exercises.
The standard length is about 30 inches. However, they’re not useful as floatation devices and should never be used for that purpose.
The best quality barbell set you can get is from Trademark Innovations. The company makes most of its products from low-water-absorbing EVA foam material. They also take great care in standardizing the length, width, and height of all their equipment offerings.
Alternative Resistance Systems
A recent development in water aerobics technology is the AquaLogix Omni-Directional Drag Resistance System. It employs a variety of specially designed equipment such as:
- ankle and wrist fins
- strength barbells
This unique water-resistance system is mostly for people who are at an advanced level of fitness. Needless to say, workout difficulty increases tremendously with the addition of this equipment.
The system operates on the principle that if more water is allowed to pass through the device, greater speed can be obtained through the entire range of motion. The result is a faster, more intense workout.
What About Boxed Equipment Sets?
You can save some money in the long-run by investing in equipment sets for water aerobics. For example, the GoFit Water Resistant Workout Set has practically everything you need to get started. Here’s what’s included:
- flotation belt
- force gloves
- training manual
Even these equipment sets may be convenient, they’re not of the best quality. If you want equipment that you can handpick for its function, durability, and value, you’ll have to shop for each item one at a time.
Other Equipment to Consider
The following items haven’t been deemed necessary, but as you start adding items to your equipment list, you may find them useful. Below, you’ll find several of the more prominent examples:
If you’re prone to ear infections from swimming or other water-related activities, investing in an ear wrap may be the answer. The original Ear Band-It Swimming Headband was invented by a doctor for those who suffer from a swimmer’s ear.
It wraps around your head like a headband and covers your ears to keep water out. They are also recommended for swimmers who wear earplugs and have trouble keeping them securely in place.
Gear Mesh Bag
At some point, you may want to stop carrying all your stuff to the pool in a shopping bag or in your arms, which is where a mesh bag would do nicely.
F-color is a company that designs some truly remarkable bags and organizing products. I recommend their Mesh Beach Bag, with multiple pockets to store everything from flip-flops to sunscreen. Oh yeah, and don’t forget your water aerobics stuff, too!
Most of the time, you will need more than one noodle for your workouts. Having a noodle bag to haul them around in will make life much easier for you on the way to your workout sessions.
The Speedo Unisex-Adult Ventilator Mesh Equipment Bag will do the job well. It has a drawstring closure, with just enough room for your other water aerobics gear to tag along for the ride.
Checklist of Things You’ll Need
Now that you know some of the equipment you will need for a water aerobics class, it’s time to prioritize them. Here’s a sample checklist of items to consider in order of importance:
- water bottle
- water shoes
- UV water shirt (if exercising in an outdoor pool)
- force gloves
- pool noodle
- flotation belt
- ankle weights
- ear wrap
- mesh bag
Of course, you don’t have to get everything all at once. It is best to buy the equipment you need as you gain more experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your instructor. They’ve been in your shoes and thoroughly understand what you’re experiencing when browsing through water aerobics equipment for the first time. They can be an enormous help, but only if you reach out.