At the Y, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve in combining aquatics with cardio and strength training. We offer group exercise classes in the pools in addition to the studios, which give members a low-impact, high-benefit workout.

Instructor Colleen Cussick is especially passionate about the benefits and advantages of H2O fitness classes. A lot of people associate water fitness with an older demographic, but Colleen says it’s for everyone. “I’ve really come to appreciate just how intense you can make a water workout at the Y.”


Something for everyone

We offer several unique water fitness classes, including Hydrorider (biking underwater), GlideFIT (balancing on paddleboards while performing different exercises), Aqua Dance Blast, H2O Yoga, H2O Circuit, and H2O Cardio. We even offer Deep Water and Arthritis class variations.

“We’ve really embraced challenging our whole population with water fitness,” Colleen says.

Most H2O classes are in chest-deep water and provide a full-body workout, incorporating arm, core and leg movements.

“It’s soft on our joints with a high level of cardio intensity. You’ll be sweating and getting your heart rate up in the 65th or 75th percentile,” she says. “Whether you’re fighting an injury or just wanting to become generally healthier, your goals can be addressed with H2O cardio. Pretty much anything you can do on land, you can do in water.”

Why water?

Water is kind to your joints, but it also compresses and creates drag. Adding equipment like noodles, water weights, weighted balls or kickboards increases the resistance. So, you’ll be getting a “two-fer,” as Colleen says, with both cardio and strength training.

Arthritis H2O

H2O Cardio is a popular group exercise format with athletes, who come initially thinking they’re taking a break from their intense workouts. “They’re always in shock about how much they’re sweating, how their heart rate is rising and hard the workout is,” Colleen says. “They end up staying because they realize it’s a great way to change up their routine and build endurance.”

Hydrorider requires balance and upper body strength when you’re not sitting in the saddle. You could also take an H2O Circuit class where you’re using equipment or Aqua Boot Camp where you’re doing water sprints. “You have no idea how hard it is to run in the water with a noodle behind your back,” she says.

Seeing progress

Hydrorider Class

A loyal group of regulars comes to Colleen’s water classes because they know she’s going to change up the routines and exercises. “The Y makes sure we have enough options to stay healthy while keeping things fun and interesting,” she says. “There is never a dull moment in our classes.”

New participants also come in—some who are afraid of the water or worried that they can’t keep up. Colleen encourages them to stick with it. “As long as you’re trying your best, that’s all that really matters.”

She loves hearing success stories from participants who’ve overcome injuries, lowered their sugar levels, lost weight, strengthened their core, or built muscle. “We’re enabling members to become healthier and to be in control of their bodies. In the water, no one’s judging you or looking at you. We’re all just there to be healthy.”

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, most Ys in Middle Tennessee will have some of their water classes in the outdoor pool to take advantage of the beautiful weather. However, classes are offered year-round in our indoor pools—so even in chilly January, you can get in your Aqua Dance Blast fix. Check our YMCA of Middle Tennessee app to see where your class is being held.

Find an H2O cardio class that fits your goals here.