Wondering how to level up your fitness in 2023? Simple, just dive in…

Wondering how to level up your fitness in 2023? Simple, just dive in…
BY Virgin Active South Africa
Posted On 12 April, 2023

If one of your goals for 2023 is to get more active, then now’s the time to take the plunge. Swimming is a low-impact, non-contact activity with numerous health benefits – and it’s the only exercise that won’t get you hot and sweaty, which is why it’s the coolest.

Swimming gets your heart rate up and burns calories without impacting bones and joints. A few laps also fire up more of your body’s major muscle groups than many other cardio activities, helping to tone muscles and build strength. It engages your legs, upper body (especially lats), and the muscles of your middle back and triceps.

Aside from the above benefits, establishing a regular swimming routine:

Provides a full body work out

Swimming works almost every part of the body because you use your arms and legs to push against the water which builds strength and increases your cardiovascular fitness. Swimming has a similar growth effect on muscle fibres as sprinting and powerlifting.

Supports weight loss

The combination of an elevated heart rate, full-body effort, and resistance makes for a powerful calorie burn. Swimming is also especially good for those already carrying extra weight because it avoids putting additional stress on the joints.

Helps with problematic joints

Whether you have bad knees after years of running, are recovering from an injury or have arthritis, joint pain can derail fitness quickly. Swimming is low-impact, but high-resistance. That means you get a great workout with minimal or no joint pain and damage.

And the very best part about swimming? Anyone of any age and fitness level can hop in and get started straight away – swimming is quite literally for everyone. Even people with serious physical disabilities can do a pool workout with the right equipment. Swimming can be safe and beneficial for pregnant women, children, adults with asthma, and even babies – with the supervision of course.

So where to begin? Here are 3 tips on how to start a swim routine:

  1.  Ensure that you and your family can swim

This may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s really important to evaluate yourself honestly before starting. Whether you can confidently swim a full lap or can only do the basic strokes to keep your head above water, your capabilities will have a huge influence on how you start and achieve your swimming goals. It may even be a good idea to look into some professional coaching.

Have a proper assessment and don’t be afraid to ask for help. All Virgin Active clubs with a pool offer swim lessons – for all ages. It’s never too early to practice swimming safety. Find out more about swimming lessons at Virgin Active.

  1.  Start off slowly and build up your strength and endurance

Take your time to build up fitness and good form. Start simple with easy intervals of 30 seconds or one length. Take a break in-between and repeat up to ten times. See how you feel and adjust your next workout accordingly.

Increase and diversify your laps and new strokes slowly. As with any activity, it’s possible to over train and believe it or not you can get injured while swimming.

If you feel like you need to build your strength and need some help, you can even join an aqua fitness class.

  1.  Get the right equipment

Although swimming is a simple sport, you’ll need a few things to get started and have a good experience.

  • A comfortable, durable swimsuit that fits well.
  • A good pair of goggles.
  • A swim cap and towel.
  • Consider getting some extras too. What you wear are the basics, but you may also want your own fins, a kickboard, and a pull-buoy. The latter floats your legs so you can focus on arm work. These types of swim equipment are available on the pool deck within our clubs.

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process. The water isn’t only a place to work out, it’s also a sanctuary where you can disengage from the stress of everyday life and slip into an immersive form of mindfulness – the weight of the world becomes significantly less when you’re weightless in water.

Here are some swimming workouts you can try to get started:

A quick note on terminology: a length is from one end of the pool to the other, while a lap is to the other end and back again, or two lengths.

Start out slowly with simple, short swimming workouts. When you’re ready to spend more than ten minutes doing easy intervals, try these workouts:

Swimming Workout #1

Start with two laps at an easy pace for a warm-up, any stroke or alternating strokes. Follow this with two laps of kicking with a kickboard. Do five laps freestyle (front crawl) at a moderate intensity pace. Rest as long as necessary in-between each lap. Do two laps at an easy pace, followed by two laps at moderate intensity on the kickboard. Cool down with two laps at an easy pace.

Swimming Workout #2

When you’re ready to increase the distance, try this workout. Warm up for four laps at an easy pace. Do two kickboard laps at an easy pace. Swim freestyle or change up the stroke for these intervals:

  • 2 x 2 laps at moderate intensity
  • 1 x 4 laps at harder intensity
  • 2 x 2 laps at moderate intensity
  • 1 x 4 laps at harder intensity
  • 1 x 1 lap easy
  • 2 x 2 laps sprinting

Cool down with a couple of laps of easy kick boarding followed by two laps of easy freestyle.

Swimming Workout #3

Interval workouts are great, but so are slow and steady sessions. When you’re ready to go the distance, do a warm-up and then swim at an easy or moderate pace for about 30-35 laps. Cool down with a couple of easy laps.

Check out more about swimming at Virgin Active and what our clubs have to offer.