While not swimming per se, the aqua fitness classes go pretty hand in hand with the swimming discourse.
Have you ever wanted to have one of the best workouts of your life? Do you have joint pain doing strong exercises on land? Are you curious about what being in the pool is like, but you're not the greatest swimmer yet?
Then take an aqua fitness class!
My teaching philosophy
Everyone is different right? Each person has their own needs, desires, and motivations. Taking that into account for each person was my job as an instructor. Sure I can't do it for every person, but I at least tried to.
What is ironic actually is this disconnect mentally that a lot of people have. They go to water aerobics to lose weight (one of the more common goals), but they focus solely on cardio.
While cardio CAN get you into a caloric deficit, the acts of strength training are usually far more substantial. The reason being is that for a lot of people they haven't gotten very much experience in the anaerobic exercise department (strength training).
I'd try to push people past their preconceived limitations, while also respecting any ailments they may have had (i.e. bad shoulder).
How I taught the classes
I'm a systems thinker and I would also lifeguard during all of the classes/instructors. In that time I would study each instructor's style, often not even on purpose, as it was just how my brain worked.
I'd see what worked, and what didn't. Then I'd pick and choose from there, while adding my own stuff to the mix. Such as the importance of music in the class.
My first venture outside of swimming, and it was funny because the week I started was the week I asked to start teaching. I told my bosses I wanted to be a pool manager, and water aerobics instructor. Lo and behold, two days later an instructor called in sick, and my boss said well you can do it!
I ended up stretching half way through the class, which was not the norm (ironically it was for the move your joints class though). They were patient with me, and eventually I would teach more and more. Sub for pretty much all of the instructors, and I think there was at least one week where I taught almost all of the classes in one week by myself.
I love those people in the classes, and they were always so sarcastic. I taught the classes by doing a warm up, usually adding running to the mix, a rising scale to the main portion, then a climax section, and the cool down was a bit rapid. Although that was because people get cold in the pool.
Water Boot Camp
Oh man this one was a while back, so I gotta think about it. In the evenings I'd teach an aqua strength class. Basically a water aerobics timeslot that I managed to convince everyone to change the name to.
While the format was the same, the intensity was not, and the boot camp was taking that even farther.
Some people had long work days, and so they were not able to make it to the other classes. I'd make them get in and out of the pool for this class. Including doing all of the ab exercises on the side of the pool, while also doing them in the pool. We would do planks on the ground, then in the pool sprints. On top of all that the basic workout routine I'd do in AquaStrength but with added weights, toughness, and I'd be screaming at them most of the time!
Move Your Joints
A complete reversal from the last class mentioned. This one was more like Tai Chi than anything else. I really enjoyed just how sarcastic this crowd would be. It was a bit older than some of the other classes, but I think that made it even more fun.
As the young lad leading the group there would be a disconnect sometimes, where I'd tell them they can do more. They would think I was saying they weren't doing enough. Alas they all did their best, and that is what matters. Just like with the water aerobics, all I wanted was just for them to succeed and progress.
The class' purpose was for mobility, dexterity, and flexibility.
The way I imagined it was if they wanted to lift their kids and grandkids up without hurting their back. However it required mild strength training to do that, which also helps with mobility and dexterity aspects of the class!
Probably becoming my main thing over the course of the 7 years that I taught. I spent a couple years teaching in the morning classes before making the jump to doing the two night classes as well a week.
It was funny when I had the meeting with my boss, she was adamant about how the class operated.
Are you sure you want to try and teach this class? They ate the last girl up! You have to be tough tough tough! (slapped her hands).
I paraphrased a little cause it has been half a decade, but I just remember being so eager and honestly CONFIDENT. The reason being is that even in the toughest classes in the morning I had been holding back. I cater my teaching to every class level, and then distilled further for each person (as best I can).
So I knew I had a lot of room to expand my toughness. Oh man but it was so silly because of course the first two days I ended up doing more fun things (that I would do in the mornings). As I was trying to win them over, but it was opposite because they needed tough. I snapped to pretty quick, while also keeping the fun stuff here and there. I.e. playing Isley Brothers - SHOUT, and having the group all give each other high fives.
I'd continue to push them to their limits every class. <3
Group Swim Lessons
I wanted to add this here too because it was different than just teaching one to one swim lessons. I started out doing these, and I would often get the older kids for most of my time teaching. Since the number of younger kids was greater however, the instructors would often get put with young kids. Meaning most of the higher levels from 3, 4, 5, and 6 would all get sent to me and PERHAPS another instructor.
I would sometimes have multiple levels, ages, sizes, and comfort levels all in one class. Meaning I'd have a lvl3 kid who was 3.5 feet tall, with a 16 yr old kid who was taller than me even. That sort of vast range would make for an interesting challenge, but breaking down the concepts of swimming would always get to the simple processes.
They would often not really know all the basics even at level 6, i.e. some kids wouldn't know how to glide/push off the wall, and so we would have to spend time making sure everyone was caught up. I'd have to take to heart how each kid was thinking, how scared or confident they were, and more.
How psychology plays into group fitness.
Regardless of the class, they all had a need for an understanding of how the mind works. When you're in the pool as well, even when just standing, there is this primal feeling that I can't explain. Some people tap into it and it makes them feel happy and confident (like myself), and others get scared by it causing a deep fear.
It is usually one or the other, but you are not stuck in the fear side. As with practice and more importantly the right information; Then you can work your way to confidence.
The water is your friend, it is a tool, and it is pure. It is what we are made up as, and once you realize that then it becomes much more clear what you are doing in the pool. Simply moving your muscles through resistance.
Reading body language, listening for tonality, and making sure I listen to each participant was important to being a great instructor. I didn't always do perfectly, but at least I tried each class. Even when I'd be dying sick I'd show up (at a distance), and still try and teach the class. That dedication would motivate them too.
Teaching in the pool...
Well I stopped teaching the classes back in November of 2021, and while I do miss it; I'm not coming back anytime soon, perhaps at all. Swimming lessons are all what I do now from time to time.
It was weird, this may be the gamer in me, or perhaps just a quirk in my brain. However something I don't really tell people, but had a HUGE impact how I taught...
I would see through people, and what I mean is that I'd overlay their frame with little nodes which acted as joint points.
This is what I'd see when teaching for the most part. It wasn't like a delusion, but I'd get into teaching mode, and just focus on their body movements. As that lead to a direct impact on how they performed in the exercises!
I hope this newsletter post highlights the best parts of these classes, and to any of my previous students I hope you are doing well! :)
This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.