Instructor Tammy Rowles leads Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA's new Aqua Boot Camp participants through a series of aerobic water exercises on Aug. 14.

When the phrase "boot camp" is paired with any type of activity, the general population tends to shy away; however, there is a new boot camp craze that has taken local fitness enthusiasts by storm. The Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA began its first Aqua Boot Camp Tuesday morning. Just after sunrise, eight women took to the water for a total body workout with foam weights and colorful noodles. "In these next few weeks we'll see how strong those abs can get," instructor Tammy Rowles told her class. "That is what's fun about the water workout; it's an abs workout the entire time." The class combines a cardiovascular and muscle workout using water resistance to build up strength and tone muscles, Rowles said. The interest in aqua fitness has not only been sparked locally, but has been growing nationally as well. It's not hard to believe, however, that the sweltering temperatures of the desert summer increase the popularity of the exercise locally. Water aerobics is about more than swimming: it burns calories while building strength and flexibility. "It is low impact on the joints because the water will provide cushion," Rowles said. "It's also the perfect workout for people who don't like to sweat, people with limited movement, arthritis or an injury. People who feel awkward working out on land love it because no one is watching under water." Water aerobics offers resistance in all directions, as opposed to land exercises, where gravity is the only challenge. It also requires the body to support only 50 percent of its weight, lowering the risk of injury significantly. "Aqua Boot Camp is different than an aqua fitness class because we increase intensity to work muscles to fatigue," Rowles said. "We already had a boot camp on land and we wanted to allow people with limitations to participate." Aqua Boot Camp is held at 5:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA. The program is $60 for facility members and $75 for program members. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or cfrayer@aztrib.com.

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