Monday, August 2

What is…Watsu?

- January 25, 2012

Juice FM’s Andrea Fox investigates a different kind of therapy

Hello, I’m Andrea Fox, I’m an Aquarius and I like living by the sea, swimming and river boat holidays. Is that a good dating profile? I’m not sure but the point is, I consider myself a water baby. Not babe, that’s different, I think. For a while for this column I’ve been hoping to try out something for you that lets me indulge my love of being in the water, but as it’s winter I’m not eager to jump in the sea. So thank the Lord for Watsu!

Watsu is a bit like shiatsu, but in the water and therefore 100 per-cent wetter. By having your body moved through the water, and your body manipulated, the idea is that you relieve stress, and as the water takes your weight (and the extra Christmas weight too!) you don’t have any stress on joints at all.

Judy Fox (no relation to me, I promise – we checked) is a Brighton Watsu practitioner. There aren’t many of them in the UK as it started off in the US, but this is the city of embracing new therapies. The words ‘holistic’ and ‘therapies’ conjure images of eulogising hippies. And so it should, we wouldn’t trust a masseuse who didn’t believe in massage oil. But I find Judy is refreshing, an advocate of Watsu, but not a traditional ‘treatments’ person. She assures me she’s a sporty woman, taking part in triathlons, teaching swimming and the like, who came to Watsu after finding it worked for her own body and mind.

“For a water baby, this was pretty heavenly”

The venue Judy uses is a pool is tucked away next to Thorne’s Foods on Upper Gardener Street that I hadn’t really been aware of before. It’s normally used as a baby pool, so there are a few brightly coloured floats about that I’m secretly disappointed don’t feature in the treatment. Interestingly it’s not a chlorine pool, but kept hygienic with salt water, an ‘ozone pool’ it’s called but don’t worry it’s heated and couldn’t be further from swimming about between the piers.

I put on my best (read least old) bikini and step down into the heated pool. After getting used to the water temperature Judy explains what she’s going to do, which is hold me in the water and push me around a bit, which doesn’t sound odd at all, does it? I also have some floats attached to my ankles to help things along, and I’m horizontal in the water. I have to keep my eyes closed and most of the time my ears are underwater too. Judy also explains that during the treatment she won’t talk to me. I’m not great at hiding fits of giggles, and like most people I don’t enjoy people invading my personal space. But surprisingly for me I felt totally at ease with Judy in the water. Having my eyes closed meant I almost forgot how close we were during the session, and it had the effect of making me feel quite nicely disorientated. I totally let go of where I was and forgot which way was out and that I was even in a baby pool in the centre of the city. It felt like the effect was to make me think I had a babbling stream running over me. For a water baby, this was pretty heavenly.

The idea is that just by being in the water, your muscles relax without you doing very much to try and get them to. The manipulation of the body reminded me of yoga poses with the aim to stimulate your nervous system, and help speed up recovery, should you have any niggles from things like constantly sitting at a computer or running on concrete and just relax the stress of everyday life.

More people seem to be exploring the power of water, not just for relaxation but for training as well, with recent reports of British Olympic running hopefuls training in pools running against fake tides with weights on their legs. Most would expect a medal after going to that kind of trouble for a jog.

If you fancy trying Watsu it’s recommended for people recovering from an injury or operation and I’m going to try and make it part of my marathon training too. It’s also supposed to be good for women both before and after pregnancy. Judy says she wishes she had known about Watsu before her pregnancies. It’s gentle, the opposite of something like a Thai massage if you find things like that a bit aggressive. So get your bikini on, or Speedos boys, and relax.

Find out about Judy Fox and Watsu at,
call 07776 161 547 or email Judy at:

Listen to The Guy & Andrea Breakfast Show on Brighton’s Juice 107.2 every Monday to Friday from 7am

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