OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA— It’s not like we can really take you all the way through Justin Bradshaw’s introductory fitness class in the time it takes to read this. Besides, you’re probably not anywhere near a swimming pool. “OK. Let’s bring it in,” shouts Bradshaw dressed in boots and army fatigues.
“Let’s start jogging in place. Looking good. Keep it up,” he continues. “This is definitely not water aerobics. In fact that’s our tag line,” says Bradshaw pointing to his promotional poster.
Generally, he starts out with a few calisthenics, jogging, jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, and something he calls body builders. Justin was in the U.S. Army deep sea diving program for 4 years. That’s his warm up. He says without kidding, “It’s definitely a tough program.”
About 75 percent of his hour long workout takes place in the water. Justin created his regimen about 3 years ago based on what he had to do to stay in shape. There aren’t any long swims, nothing more than 50 yards but there are a lot of them. Kat Isom usually swims for distance for her workouts. This Saturday morning was different. “It was hard,” she said later. “My arms were shaking and my legs were tired. I came close to throwing up but I didn’t.”
Bradshaw has his students swim with wet wash cloths clenched in their fists. They swim with fins a little, and sometimes they tow eachother through the water. A couple of people dropped out early on but Laura Lyles stayed with it even though she had a baby 10 months earlier. “This was really intense,” she said. “But the good kind of intense.”
They’re in the water and then out of the water. They tread water, They kick from the side. Justin insists his program is great training for the lungs while easy on the joints. It DOES help if you know how to swim. Even better, no one can hear him shouting with their head in the water. “That’s right,” he laughs.
Frog swim, shark swim, tread water, jump out, jump back in. Bradshaw says the people who come back for more tend to be marathoners or tri-athletes. He insists it gets easier. The man who calls himself Sgt. H2O says you’ll feel like a new person at the end of six months, if you can swim that far.