Not to worry. You can get an incredibly hard, full-body workout, including every core exercise you can imagine, and stay cool as a cucumber. Just go to a water park.
Workout at a water park? Oh, yes, indeed; it’s among the toughest full-body workouts you can get. First, there are stairs. Hundreds of stairs. You have to climb them over and over again to get to the top of the slides, using, of course, your lower body. Next, there are the slides themselves. As you move yourself around the curves, either on a mat or the smooth slide surface, you’ll use every one of your core muscles. Then there’s the upper body workout of swimming to the edge of the splash pool, along with the effort of pulling yourself out. You usually do all of this for two or more hours at a water park—and the following day, you’ll know you’ve been worked. But you won’t realize that at the time, because it’s so much fun.
There are major waterslides in both the Provo and Salt Lake area, with smaller ones at amusement parks like Lagoon. Raging Waters is perhaps the best, mainly because most of the slides are headfirst, which means you’re not forced to continually pull your suit out of your butt, where it has been deeply inserted from the feet-first water pressure.
Raging Waters has 16 different rides, including the kiddie pool, a wave pool and the tube-floating “Lazy River.” You can even work on dealing with fear factor on two high, near-vertical slides: the Waimea Wave and the Acapulco Cliff Dive. Even though you logically know you’re not going to die on these things, your primitive brain doesn’t know that, so it instantly goes into serious fight-or-flight mode. Learning to handle that in a safe environment is good training for any other action sport.
The large wave pool, with alternating times of calm water and furious waves, is good for core work and balance. Don’t use a tube. Instead, stand in the onrushing waves and resist them. Your calves and core will be the muscles used to do this, and after a few minutes, your abs will feel like you’ve done a hundred sit-ups.
You can also get a more specific core workout on the slides that require mats, since your torso controls your movement around the curves. As you whoosh off the end of the slide, balance on the mat and try to float all the way to the end of the splash pool without falling off—a total core workout.
Most water parks have a shallow pool with a line suspended across it where you test your strength by going hand over hand from one end to the other. This works your arms, shoulders and upper back to the point of fatigue. If you can’t continue to ape-swing by your arms, just drop. The water below cushions your fall and even soothes your now-aching shoulders.
At the moment, the water is wonderful. The fact is that the water is always clean, even in August, because Raging Waters has an automated, computerized chlorination system. But since all water parks have just recently opened, the water is still fresh and has not yet been tainted by any level of chlorine-defused kiddy pee and washed-off sweat.
It’s a pricey workout: A full-day’s ticket costs $22.38 with tax, and a half-day (4-7:30 p.m.) is $13.30 with tax. But to be outside getting a cool, feel-no-sweat workout that is adventurous and fun? That’s priceless.
1200 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-972-3300
10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.