Why not try… Aqua Combat?

It’s a mix of martial arts, combat, boxing and kickboxing under water. Benenden staff member Kelly Gamblin explains why she loves Aqua Combat.

Can you describe an Aqua Combat class?

You put on gloves that wrap around your hands, which you hold in a punching position. You do a quick warm-up to loosen up and stretch, then you do movements such as striking, punching and kicking against the resistance of the water. Its sort of like you’d do in a Boxercise class but in the pool. Your shoulders are underwater, so you feel the resistance and the gloves help to increase this. There’s also kicking – you stand on one leg and you’re kicking quickly out. Towards the end of the lesson, you use your buoyancy aid to float on one side, and turn and twist in the water to work your core. It’s all done to music with the instructor on ‘the dry’ – it can get quite noisy and splashy when everyone’s punching!

How did you hear about Aqua Combat?

About a year ago, I saw some leaflets for it at my local gym, Energise in York. I’d done Aquacise for five years, but that’s more of a step class in the water, and I’d also tried Aqua Zumba, but I wanted a tougher workout. I also like boot camp and Body Combat outside the water, so Aqua Combat suited me.

What do you like about it?

It’s a laugh and our instructor is really encouraging. I like that I’m cool in the water and I’m working hard but I’m not feeling the pain that I would if it was on land. If I was outside the water doing the same movements, I’d be hot and really sweaty with a purple face. Whereas on land you might feel something’s too much, you can work at your own pace in the water, which means you are able to do more.

How do you feel afterwards?

I feel really good. Sometimes when I don’t want to go, I know I’ll feel energised and I can also have a swim afterwards, so it’s a more relaxing experience than some exercise classes. It’s just nice to be in the water.

Who do you think Aqua Combat suits?

Anyone, really*. Some of the women who come are older and go to all the aqua classes, but they take it at their own pace. I’m 35 and a lot of the people who go are around my age. You can be any age, though – some kids of around 10 joined in recently as they’d been in an earlier class and thought it looked fun.

Are you a very fit?

Not really, I need to lose weight so I can have IVF – no weight loss means no babies. So this is my year and I want to do it. Going to the gym is difficult to keep up, but I don’t find Aqua Combat a chore – everyone’s there with the same goal of getting fitter, so you’re not self-conscious – which means I don’t find excuses not to go.

Kelly Gamblin, 35, is an administration team leader within Benenden’s Membership Enrolment and Loyalty Team.


*Although moderate physical activity is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a history of heart disease, asthma, lung disease or diabetes.