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Smart Circuits


As the summer is winding down, many outdoor pools across the country are shutting down for the season and getting ready to pivot their programs in-doors. Managers and directors are looking for help as we transition our water fitness classes into the confines of 4 walls. The question arises, with Covid Restrictions and still wanting to serve the health of members, how can we run classes ?


Safe Circuits!


As you begin to program your classes, make sure you are checking with your local Department of Health and cross referencing regulations for your State and County. This will help you understand the capacity of your building and ensure you are creating the safest environment to work within.


AEA recommends that you consider using the entire pool for class. Setting up a circuit class is a fantastic way to utilize all depths, ensure distancing, while focusing on a total body workout for your students. As you are designing your circuits, think through the following items to guide your preparation.




  1. Shallow, Deep & Walls! Oh MY! Think through the entire space provided to your class and then consider your goal for the workout. Take each location of your pool and be creative with the focus of each station. Think of all the target areas of the body. A station for core, cardio, upper body, balance , endurance and lower body are just some ideas to get your juices flowing!



Do you see the sign?

Use visual cues to ensure participants know where their workout should take place, and how traffic flow should follow. Think of the pool environment , and how to effectively communicate the exercise at each station to remind your students what is next.

Is your class traveling Clockwise to the next station? Are they following numbers at each station? If you utilize equipment and the wall, what steps will you ensure to create homes and spaces for their water bottles or equipment they might not need? If you are able to use the entire pool, consider using a lane line or two to leave clear boundaries and help with traffic patterns.


Embrace the Rainbow!

Lay out color coded space markers on the wall a minimum of 6 feet apart. This will help guide the students safely to their station. This marker can serve as a home base at each station to leave their water bottles, or place their jogging belt if they are not using it for this circuit, all while ensuring physical distancing is happening. This also doubles as a starting and end point for students to travel to and from if the circuit calls for safe travel. For deep stations, this gives students a visual anchor to focus on and limiting floating into someone else. Consider color coding the home base. If each circuit has a max of 5 students, then assign a specific color to each student. This will help drive traffic patterns and limit confusion from circuit to circuit. If they are assigned the Yellow Marker, at each station, they always know to find the yellow.


To Equip or not to Equip? If equipment is allowed at your facility , consider how it will be utilized in your circuits.Will they take the same piece of equipment with them for the whole workout? If equipment is circuit specific, look for additional ways to ensure sanitation that is pool safe. Use the home base markers for pick up and drop off station.



Learn it , Earn it then Master it. Design the workout for “supersets”. Repetition during sets allows students to learn the move, earn their workout and master the circuit. Time out your entire workout based on how long you want your students at this designated station. Looking into timing Apps or music subscriptions that will give audio cues for transitions and breaks. Build in plenty of time between circuits for students to travel to the next station , learn the next move and be ready to go.



I need an example to help me visualize!

One of the pools I teach at, used their outdoor pool this summer. The pool proved to be a little extra tricky, since it was 3 feet in the shallow , 12 feet in the deep and we were only allowed to use noodles in addition to our belts.



I designed a 5 circuit station for the pool, allowing for 4 people per station. We used one lane line down the middle of the pool to help guide spacing and we traveled Counter clockwise to follow circle swim etiquette from each station. Stations are clearly marked by 4 color markers on the wall , spread out a minimum of 8ft apart, with a cone in the middle explaining the three exercises to be done at each station. Each exercise would last for 30 seconds total with a 30 second rest between each round of 3 moves. We would repeat this three times, and finish with a 2 minute rest and transition to the next station. By using the GYMBOSS App, I could build in audio cues over my music that would help count down each interval. This would allow me as the instructor to bounce between stations to correct form and coach through moves, while not having to focus on a clock. Each station was given a theme and presented at the start of the class.


Station 1: Barre themed. Exercised based on balance and unilateral training on the first and third move, while implementing a light cardio move for the second exercise.


Station 2. Agility based cardio moves with an emphasis on grounded exercises due to extreme shallow. Any traveling moves would leave their color coded marker to the middle lane line and back again, which safely allowed travel without any close proximity.

Station 3. Deep water noodles. Three exercises designed on traditional deep water exercises utilizing the noodle as resistance.


Station 4. Deep Wall - Since we had the entire deep end wall to use and only 4 students, we were able to utilize the wall safely with more than 8 feet between students. Students would swim to their color coded markers for a variety of wall work exercises.

Station 5: High Intensity Cardio Moves. This station utilized the middle of the pool and the only location with the appropriate depth to integrate HIIT cardio in. We placed markers both on the wall for water bottles and in the pool to show where they should stand apart from each other.




By utilizing all parts of the pool ( deep, shallow, slant and wall) we were able to fully space out, and design a specific full body workout for every level of student. As the weeks went on, the state regulation allowed us to implement more equipment into our classes. Equipment was trickled into certain stations. Just as gym equipment is used indoors, anytime pool equipment was shared, we provided an additional layer of protection between uses. Located at each station with equipment we provided a squirt bottle of a pool safe EPA registered disinfectant, Effersan. Students were also given options to be equipment free if they chose to not share equipment.




Our students loved this format! We had a waitlist reservation system and the class was always full. Your class is only limited by your creativity.




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