The words water and exercise usually conjure the serene movements of synchronized swimmers in a Busby Berkeley film, but H20 Boot Camp isn't your grandmother's pool fitness program.
Nor is it water aerobics. An intense cross-training routine targeting both the heart and lungs, H20 Boot Camp is now offering classes at Palisades Charter High School in addition to its original location in L.A., spreading its special blend of swimming and sweating.
Co-owned by instructors Igor Porciuncula and Lana Shapiro, the boot camp consists of an hour-long class up to five times a week combining strength training and cardiovascular in the pool.
The unique workout was born out of boredom with standard exercise a year ago when the two certified lifeguards and life-long swimmers met while working at the Lenny Krayzelberg Swim Academy.
"After college I was trying to lose weight but I was bored with lap swimming and I wasn't really pushing myself . . . Igor and I started working out together on our lunch breaks and that's how it all started," said Shapiro.
"We started mixing in drills, started using weights and it ended up not only being a fun, interesting workout that pushed us physically but the fact we were doing it together helped motivate me," she said.
Now Shapiro and Porciuncula are motivating a wide variety of clients, ranging from those suffering from injury or obesity to triathletes in training.
"After healing from their injuries, they stick with us because they like what we have to offer," said Porciuncula. "It's challenging but it’s also easy on the joints."
Ranging in age from their late 20's to early 50's each client works with their own strengths and difficulties.
"We have a master swimmer in our class who is really fast so we have him do four laps while everyone else does two. But when we tell everyone to do pull-ups or squats or weights, he can't do it."
Aside from strengthening the core--which boosts metabolism and therefor, weightloss--the water boot camp increases lung capacity, something traditional strength training does not.
The benefits of increased lung capacity can have a profound impact on health later in life. By the time a person is in their 70's, lung capacity decreases by half.
Still a licensed physical therapist in his native Brazil, Porciuncula brings a unique perspective to his teaching, meeting a person's physical needs and abilities while keeping an eye on their form to prevent injuries. Shapiro's strength as an instructor lies in her creativity and adaptability.
"If I'm getting bored I know my clients are, too," she said. "I'm really good at coming up with new things on the fly and I know a lot about swimming, body conditioning and what it feels like to pull water."
They currently provide beginners and intermediate/advanced classes based on skill level as well as a swim stroke clinic that focuses on more than fundamentals and technique. Treading water and other water survival skills are also taught.
In the future, they would like to expand.
"We're working on taking over L.A.--South Bay, Santa Monica and Venice,” said Shapiro. “In five to ten years, we want to go outside of L.A."
In the meantime, they are looking to fill their classes in the Pacific Palisades and are flexible on their class schedule depending on demand.
"80 percent of our clients have been with us since the beginning. They like the challenge and are committed,” said Porciuncula.
To take advantage of their new client specials, including a free class, check out their website.