Water aerobics classes can build muscle without putting impact on joints

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Kerry Washington revealed on Tuesday that her go-to pregnancy workout was water aerobics — and she may be onto something.

“When you’re pregnant, you feel heavier. But in water, you get to feel lighter again,” CeCe Marizu, an Equinox Sports Club instructor and group fitness ambassador for their H20 workouts, tells PEOPLE.

“When you get pregnant, you also tend to swell and water takes that pregnant feeling away. A lot of pregnant women have pain in their low back, and a water aerobics class can correct your pelvic tilt. And as far as modifications, you don’t have to do a million modifications. Swimming is one of the safest sports.”

It also allows pregnant women to be in positions that are not safe for them on land.

“When you’re pregnant, you can be on your back in the water,” says Marizu. “You have more freedom to mix up your workouts when you’re in water versus when you’re on land.”

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Whether or not you’re pregnant, water aerobics can provide an effective workout without putting impact on your joints like many traditional workout classes do.

“Water gives you a natural resistance that still lets you build up your strength without causing injury to your body,” says Marizu. “Anything you can do on land, you can kind of do in the water. You can do squats, you can do a high-knee march, you can do a run. We’ll do stuff with your arms where you pull the water down, and then you might grab that buoy as a weight where you’re also adding some curls or some tricep extensions.”

Being in the water allows people to have a range of motion they can’t have on land.

“The thing that makes water so special is you can move around all planes,” she says. “You’re working on rotation, you’re working with each sagittal plane, the frontal plane.”

It also adds more natural resistance to each move to build strength: a simple kicking move when done in water can work your quads and hamstrings.

“You work muscle groups that I don’t think people realize that you’re working in the water,” adds Marizu. “Your forearms are a really hard area to target, but even if you’re just standing in the water, and you start to move your arms in a figure-8 motion, you’re working your shoulders, your delts and your forearms at the same time.”