Fitness class taps into the wonders of seawater

It’s an exercise class that incorporates one of Cayman’s most famous assets – the beautiful blue waters off of Seven Mile Beach.  

Every Saturday morning, weight-loss and lifestyle consultant Donna Mitchell holds water conditioning classes at Governor’s Beach for those seeking a low-impact total body workout. 

“Because it’s an almost gravity-free environment, you can work out without impacting your body,” says Mitchell, owner of Lifestyles, Ltd. “It’s really good for people with back or joint problems or those recovering from an injury or surgery.” 

Mitchell is a certified water conditioning therapist in a method developed by Igor Burdenko, a leading authority in water therapy and founder of the Burdenko Water and Sports Therapy Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. 

The Burdenko method incorporates the natural resistance of water to build core strength, flexibility and range of motion. It’s used by everyone from world-class athletes to those coping with chronic pain or illness. 

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Whatever the case, it’s a fun way to get fit and feel good, with the movements and routines promoting toning, fitness and well-being. 


What it’s like  

Mitchell uses flotation devices for some of the moves. It looks easy, but finding your balance can be tricky at times. I found standing on top of the balance bar in the water the most difficult move, but no matter, really. It’s just fun being in the sea. 

Mitchell notes that it is a progressive class, so as participants build strength and balance, they will improve as time goes on.  

While a few moves were difficult for me, the buoyant properties of water made other exercises much easier and more enjoyable than on land. The class incorporates movements that work out the whole body, from leg and spine stretches to abdominal and shoulder work.  

At the end of the hour-long session, you feel relaxed yet energized – a good combination at the start of a day.  

Mitchell mixes up the routines so every class is different. “It’s pretty unlimited as to what you can do,” she says. 

She also teaches group water conditioning classes in private pools, sometimes injecting a dance move or yoga stretch to pump up the fun factor. 


How it helps  

The Burdenko method focuses on specific core exercises that help develop balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance, speed and strength.  

Because we move and condition with an increased range of motion in water, it can help those with chronic pain or muscle and joint injuries. Water therapy reduces stress on joints and is easy on the body as you become weightless in water, providing an optimal environment for safe and effective therapy and conditioning. 

It is a full body exercise, helping to build strength and support for injured or weaker areas, as well as increase oxygen flow throughout the entire body. Working out in Cayman’s warm waters also promotes muscle relaxation, and you can exercise without the sweat factor. 

Water conditioning works especially well for those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain, as well as for people who are experiencing sprains, strains, stiffness and soreness. It also benefits those cross-training for squash, tennis and golf, and for runners and walkers who minimize upper body use. 

Mitchell says water is a good environment for individuals who are overweight since the water supports the body to help ease into the moves. 

Folks advancing in age will find water to be a relaxing and easy element in which to move, allowing for a greater range of motion, she notes.  


Who’s it for 

Water conditioning is for everyone; it can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels.  

“Everyone can be an athlete in the water,” says Mitchell. 

The ability to swim is not necessary, but participants should feel comfortable in water. The sessions are held in deeper water (meaning you can’t stand on the sandy bottom). 


Classes take place every Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. at Governor’s Beach on Seven Mile Beach. The fee is $20. For more information, call 929-7512, email [email protected], or visit 



Water provides an optimal environment for safe and effective therapy and conditioning.
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