Updated: Nov 9, 2022
It shouldn’t go as much of a shock to say, I know my water. 😊
I have been working in the Aquatics Industry for over 20 years and have seen fads come and go. I also know how to look at aquatics with a critical eye. What does that mean? When you have been working at a YMCA for 15 years, you understand every penny counts and you need to make that penny stretch over many things. So when a new toy comes waltzing into the Water Fitness industry you can bet that I am going to do thorough research and find out how I can get the best bang for my buck!
Over the past few years, social media has exploded with new Water Fitness Fun! The United States is finally starting to realize that Water doesn’t have to be about Old Ladies discussing political topics while sitting on noodles. Water fitness can be all incorporating and offer a variety of needs from young to old. New products are being debuted and fitness companies are jumping at the opportunity to show their new products.
One product that is making a splash is the Stand Up Fitness Mats. They are not exactly Paddle Boards, but similar in concept. A number of companies have given a crack at their own design and fitness program offerings . The more I watched the videos roll out the more I wanted to try the boards myself and see what I could do with it. Finally, in the Fall of 2017 I had the chance to try 3-4 demos at a fitness convention. I was able to see how they are used for kids, health seekers, active agers and those who really want a crazy insane workout! As an aquatics director for a YMCA , I saw the HUGE potential in versatility to offer a wide arrange of programs. I knew it was going to be an investment, so I needed to do my homework to find the best product in which to pitch to our Sr. VIPs , would ultimately may give me the green flag to purchase.
I wanted to share my experience with the good bad and ugly of the top companies out there. My hopes is by doing the homework on my end, I maybe able to help other pools to expand their water fitness horizon and keep the trend alive that water fitness is so much more then Aqua Aerobics.
When looking for boards there are many things you need to consider.
What is the board made of? How many anchor points are available? What is the standing mat made of? Do they offer a certification and continuing education option? Are they AFFA and NASM approved? What is the cost break down of each board and what extras will I have to pay for in the end?
Overview- BOGA is a Paddle and Surf Company based out of California. If you type in to google “ Water Fitness Mats” you will find BOGA pop up first. They released a line from their traditional stand up paddle board business and expanded to their line of Fit Mat ~Aqua.
The Good- The company had great response when I reached out to them. Their customer service was fantastic, and their professionalism was top notch. They have a great marketing team, and their presentation of their company was clear.
Boga does offer a certification program which will give you continuing education through NASM & AFAA CECs. The program is a one day class and will teach you the basics of being an instructor.
The Concerns- THE PRICE. From my research the price of the Fitmat Aqua is the highest out there for US Commercial to purchase. Though they do offer discount bundle prices, you are looking to pay at least a hundred more per board then their competitors. From what I have seen, they typically only anchor at 2 points of the board. The two point anchor system becomes increasingly more difficult for your beginners and active angers to push past basic balance.
The board can anchor at 4 points if the board is positioned horizontally in a lane line, but this ends up using a whole lane for only 5 people, rather then the 10 which can fit when anchored vertically.
Tsnuami is a catchy name for a Water Mat Fitness Company. The only product in which they sell is their discounted mats. The company is owned by one man, who works his business part time. Tsunami can be found state side and international.
The Good- Of all the boards I did research on, Tsunami boards were by far the least expensive. When I reached out to the owner of the company, he said “ You don’t have to pay for all the extra bells and whistles of other boards.” Tsnuami does offer CEC's 7 for AEA, 8 AFAA, & .8 for NASM. It should be noted that Tsunami is one of the few companies with AEA CECs.
The Concerns- You are getting what you pay for with this board. The extra bells and whistles are not paying for, are great missed during class. The board is significantly less sturdy then other boards , and also uses a two anchor points. Personally I had a bad customer service experience with the owner, but that may not be the same with all of his customers.
Personally I would not recommend this company .
Glide Fit is another American Based Company that also has its roots in Stand Up Paddle.
The Good- Glide fit was the company that came in as a very close second place before I purchased. The customer service was fantastic, and the ease of information from the company was a breeze. There is brand recognition known in the industry and their product is very fitting for the cost. They come right in the middle and can be afforded by fitness centers. They offer an optional Certification for your instructors for CEC in NASM & AFFA. Also for a Safety Nut like me ( YMCA safety goggles at all times). They post pre-requisites that I think is to note!
Prerequisites for instructors looking to certify:
Minimum of one year group exercise instruction or equivalent.
Know life saving rescue techniques for pool environment. ß Was very happy to see this.
Adequate level of fitness to complete a class on their own.
The Concerns- There were a few reasons I decided not to invest in Glide. As with a number of the companies above, the material of the platform once wet, is not secure. I have take a number of Glide fit classes at a local facility and a number of my friends have fallen out of strength position, due to lack of grip. Also, I spoke with the local facility who owns their boards. The company does not require that staff are certified to be trained. As I have done some research I have found a lot of companies who invested, are finding that they don’t know how to train their staff in how to teach the program safely.
Aqua Body Strong
ABS is a company based out of California. The two co-founders of the company work within the resort and vacation industry. They were inspired to build up the program, due to the fact that there resorts that offered vacation fitness programs , wanted a sturdier product then those on the market.
The Good- I can not speak high enough about this board. The owners did a number of runs to continue to bring the best product at competition price. There are 6 anchor points in which can be used in a variety of ways to offer to the clients. The surface of the mat, is by far the best I have tried. This textured surface, results in less slips and results in less injury. There customer service is very thorough, and their marketing material was clean and simple. They do require that your instructors are certified by their company, to ensure the program is being taught safely. They have a double layer of Military Grade PVC, which is sure to hold up in tough aquatic environment. Its also to note, that you can have your board custom designed with logos if interested. They do also have an online certification if you are unable to attend in person.
The Concerns- As of right now there is no prerequisites for an instructor to take the class, except that instructors must have a nationally recognized fitness certification. The good news is, they are in discussion right now to add CPR and a swimming component in the future. Currently they do not offer CECs for AEA, but do for AFAA/NASM. It should be noted that I have seen instructors be approved for AEA upon submission.
Aqua Physical Base Mats is a product designed for the vacation resorts industry. The company focuses on products for all-inclusive resorts, and their Aqua Base was designed to meet a request by their hotels.
The Good- The Aqua Physical Base is currently in over 58 countries world wide. They offer a wide variety of other fitness items and single item add ons in their company. Their one day and online trainings offer CEC’s for both NASM & AFAA as well as handful of other international fitness companies.
The Concerns- I spent some time on these board, and I do not believe the quality is there. The board has two anchor points and is lacking sturdiness. Though the surface is textured, I still found my foot giving minor slips and being stopped by its diamond pattern. The board is thin, and you can see that heavier participants do not float as well as some other boards do.