The pool comes equipped with strength-training equipment, aquatic treadmills, aqua poles, and even trampolines.

Healing Powers of Water

Innovative liquid gym gets people fitter AND stronger faster

By Jason Santerre

Before they can leave Earth’s atmosphere, astronauts spend hundreds of hours training underwater. Why? There’s no water in space. But the water here on Earth does mimic the weightlessness of space whereby a 90-kilo man or heavy piece of machinery can move with ease.

It’s that ease of motion that inspires the liquid gym at UQAM. The pool is part rehabilitation centre, part gym. It comes equipped with strength-training equipment, aquatic treadmills, aqua poles, and even trampolines. The gym is accessible to people of all ages but ideal for anyone rehabbing an injury, recovering from surgery or simply looking for an innovative way to stay fit.

Andrée Dionne, a UQAM kinesiologist says the idea for the liquid gym was inspired by similar spaces in Europe. “For years now, staionary bikes are a common sight in the pools across Italy,” says Mme Dionne. “So that’s where we purchased our bikes.”

The mandate is to give access to exercise for anyone and everyone. “Many of our clients can’t walk on dry land, let alone exercise, so the water provides them with an enviornment where they can get the benefits of exercise without the wear and tear on their joints and muscles. When you’re immersed in water, for every 70 kilos you weigh on land, you weigh about seven in the water.”

Each participant receives a personalized program according to his or her physical and medical condition. Moreover, everyone is closely monitored as their treatment progresses. Mme Dione says more doctors are starting to refer their pateints to her and her team.

Dr. Serge Goulet, a professor of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke, says the program has not only helped his patients recover faster with fewer complications, it seems to lead to better overall lifestyle habits post-surgery. “It even seems to be a catalyst in helping people stop smoking and eat better.”

Yolande, an 80-year-old regular at the pool says she fractured her humerus months ago. But, after only a few weeks at gym, she increased the strength in her arm enough to be able to wash her own dishes. On top of gaining independence, she was able to sleep soundly at night. And then there’s Antoine, an overweight young man with asthma. He says his pool regimen allows him to exercise on a more regular basis without stressing his joints. And since he started his program, he says he’s lost several pounds and is thrilled to have found the one form of exercise he actually looks forward to every day.

The benefits of water exercise are numerous, from hydrostatic pressure facilitating blood flow, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, water keeps the body cool and diminishes swelling while jets can massage aches and pains away. “I think its training of the future,” says Mme Dionne. For more information, visit the liquid gym section on the UQAM website at


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