Most children enjoy water play: it's a sensory extravaganza and a sensational learning experience. One of the things I love about aquatic bodywork is that it can bring back these memories of joy and bliss. The movements are liberating: floating, submerging, skimming, spinning, rolling, bobbing, and - if you're using Floatli® - frog jog.
Recently, aquatic exercise expert Pamela Morse sent me some Floatli® - a set of floatation devices she designed - to try out. I hadn't had any instruction before using them, though I did take a peek at the short video on her website. What a wonderful time I had trying to work out what to do and laughing at my own aquatic antics!
Floatli® are made of strong nylon fabric with each float having pouches where up to 3 cylinders of noodles (cut to size) can be inserted. The arm floats are smaller than the leg floats. They fasten with velcro just as the floats generally used for Watsu® do, though they are much bulkier than Watsu® floats when assembled.
As someone who is experienced in movement, at home in water, and quite strong, my experimental session was a delight. However, I'd recommend some instruction since the floats challenge your ability to control your movement in water and your sense of balance. That challenge has advantages, but could be dangerous if you were alone.
Though Floatli® is recommended for those who are ready to overcome feelings of insecurity in the water, experienced guidance would be essential. Pamela and her trained instructors offer introduction lessons in private comfortable and safe settings that inspire confidence and comfort. Below is an outline of the basic classes.
1/2 hour. Introduction to Floatli® covers the basic use of arm Floatli®. This includes movement inspired by breath, percussive breathing, floating, and creating a personal exercise routine.
1 hour. Introduction to full-body Floatli® covers the use of arm and leg Floatli® together. This requires more skill, strength, and breath control. The mastery of this balance challenge offers playful new ways to move in water and develops core strength.
I'm sold on Floatli® for acquainting ourselves ever more deeply with the medium in which we work as aquatic bodyworkers. Like the long noodle, described as inspiration for self-care in a previous blog post, these floatation devices provide new ways to explore hydrodynamics. Though Pamela's emphasis is on active exercise with Floatli®, they can also be used more passively.
Having just returned from an Integrative Aquatic Therapy class on the Prenatal Journey, it was immediately obvious to me that I could use the Floati® to practice in water some of the early developmental movements we'd looked at, such as starfish. With awareness enhanced by the support of the water, a great deal of proprioceptive information was available to me.
Pamela promotes Floatli® for sport-specific training, flexibility, strength, and core stability work. She also suggests that for water yoga and pilates, Floatli® can provide the perfect prop for anti-gravity poses. Using the poolside, steps or wall bar with Floatli® adds more creative options. These floatation devices would probably find many uses in aquatic physical therapy too.
For those with arthritis, Pamela notes that Floatli® makes it possible to enjoy water flotation without the need to grip and hold anything. The arm floats, for example, feel more like part of the body, and distribute the resistance through the area of the arm below the elbow, eliminating the stress on wrists and hands.
About the creator of Floatli®
Pamela Morse has had a private practice teaching water exercise in backyards in Tucson for more than 30 years: 'It is still my favorite thing in the world to teach kids to swim'. Her spa background is impressive, she taught at Canyon Ranch 'back in the truly good old days' and later did guest instructing at Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door.
As a certified expert in Swiss tourism, Pamela traveled and taught extensively in Switzerland: 'The influence that Switzerland has had on my life cannot be overstated. It is to me the perfect model of wellness, democracy, and freedom. Floatli® was created to make the country of Switzerland happy so I will be invited to return.'
I asked Pamela about the origin of her product's name (logo shown below): 'It is the Swiss ending that denotes diminutive ... like ito in Spanish ... this is Swiss humor ... the name sounds cute, little, harmless enough. The reality is difficult and takes practice to do well. Before this name, it was Love Floats. I liked that one because it is a complete sentence.'
The decision to come back to business with Floatli®, Pamela told me, 'is one part a feeling that Floatli® will be very helpful to many people and one part fascination with the way world business works today'. I met Pamela through Facebook and have noticed that she took to social networking like a duck to water.
Go here for Floatli's Facebook Page
Address: 3362 E Popinac Loop, Tucson, AZ 85716
Freeing the body in water: inspiration for self-care with Liz Koch (using noodles for flotation)
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