Friday, 15 July 2016 09:19

Aquatic fitness

Passing Limassol’s Akti Olympion Municipality Beach at 6am, one can already spot the first group of water exercise enthusiasts. Groups of up to 40 people have been meeting every day to enjoy the many health benefits of exercising in the water. Some are in their 50s, some are younger, but the majority is in their 60s and 70s. The oldest participant is 82 and lately several gentlemen have also joined.


An instructor with 20 years of experience

The various groups, which meet five times a week, are led by Helena Vanelli. Helena is of South African-Cypriot background and her beginnings are actually in jazz dance.

She used to own a dance school and is a certified health coach. Helena has worked as a choreographer and fitness coach for many years, however, her favourite has always been aquatic fitness.

“I see such fantastic results,” she says. “My work is incredibly inspiring.”

According to Vanelli, exercising in the water is easier on your joints, highly effective because of the resistance, has cleansing effects because of the salt water and is simply fun. Participants use a foam ‘water noodle’ to sit on, swim with, exercise with and thus work their whole body.

Small private groups have been meeting throughout the year since 2013, but this year, two weeks of free trial lessons really got the ball, or rather the wave, rolling. Many older people tried and then stayed on after experiencing the benefits of water exercise first hand; they are now part of a group which meets from 7 – 8.15am on Monday and Thursday.

One of them is 70-year-old Androulla Germanos whose energy and cheerfulness are an inspiration to all. Androulla is also a member of the Limassol Winter Swimmers’ Association and a recovering breast cancer patient.

“I really want to thank Helena for introducing me to her classes. I feel like a new person in a new body,” she told The Cyprus Weekly. The sea lover used to have problems with her knees and walk with a cane, which she is now able to leave it at home after only two weeks of classes in the water.


Aquathon ambitions

The sports enthusiasts are currently preparing for the World Aquathon Day, an annual event which takes place in 76 countries on November 12 to promote aquatic fitness all over the world. The goal is to exercise in the water for three hours non-stop. One member who is particularly excited about this challenge is Erma Stylianides-Vasilissa, president of the Limassol Winter Swimmers and Friends Association, now about 300 members strong.

“We are very happy to have Helena to help us participate in this event; also her classes strengthen our voice in our efforts to keep Limassol’s beaches clean,” said Stylianides-Vasilissa.

The exercise fans will thus continue working on their fitness levels in clean water and are hoping to do Cyprus proud on November 12 with a great number of participants.

More information can be found at or Tel: 99 349 584.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of July 8th 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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