The Many “Hats” of an Aquatic Fitness Instructor

HELP WANTED: Aquatic Fitness Instructor. Must be energetic and able to plan and execute a fitness class. CPR and related fitness certification required.

By Lori Templeman
Published in AKWA, 2008

We’ve all seen this job description. It is extremely vague and doesn’t reveal the motivation, dedication, and desire it takes to be a successful instructor. Sometimes the time slot or format is the only thing listed as a manager desperately seeks a warm body to take over a class. New fitness professionals find out early that their job description requires they wear many hats to be successful. This is not in a literal sense, but I have found that wearing silly hats does enhance my class!

“NÃO BASTA CUMPRIR A DESCRIÇÃO FORMAL DAS TAREFAS DE UM TÉCNICO DE FITNESS AQUÁTICO. HÁ OUTROS FACTORES DE SUCESSO QUE O DISTINGUEM DOS DEMAIS”

Teaching fitness comes with many responsibilities. Executing safe and effective classes are basic requirements of all competent instructors. Digging deeper, we find more goes into a group fitness instructor’s job than meets the eye. Roles instructors take besides executing class include motivator, entertainer, educator, student, role model, and manager.

“para além de dominar técnicas de socorrismo e segurança, deve SER UM MOTIVADOR, UM TREINADOR, UM EDUCADOR, UM ESTUDIOSO, UM EXEMPLO E UM GESTOR”

Professor Fernando Santos (Hobbyvida) AQUANATAL 2009

MOTIVATION

Motivation is essential for both instructors and participants.
Enthusiasm and inspiration are components to an effective and committed fitness program. Using vocal cues, establishing intensity, and demonstrating resistance are some of the ways instructors motivate. Giving praise and recognition are valuable motivational tools to provide encouragement.

An instructor stays motivated to consistently give the best class they can by further developing these tools. Acknowledging individual and group progress with new challenges keeps participants and the instructor interested in coming back.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!

“UM ANIMADOR e UM SOCIALIZADOR para conseguir classes positivas e dinâmicas”

Let the fun begin! A dynamic instructor is also an entertainer. Entertainment is an ingredient of uplifting and positive classes. People already come to the water for recreation. No other group format is easier to include games, themes, and celebrations than water exercise. When an instructor leads a fun class, the time flies by and participants leave feeling better than when they came in. For some, this is the only hour of socializing they will get.

An instructor is also a deejay that puts together the appropriate music for the class format. Playing group favorites and top 40 songs creates a comfortable mood and some will even sing along. It takes additional planning, time and money to build a music collection.

“UTILIZA AS MELHORES MÚSICAS SEGUNDO A TIPOLOGIA DAS CLASSES”

An entertaining instructor is not afraid to break away from a normal workout. Throw in some dancing from time to time and introduce new games and toys. Conduct themed classes based on a holiday or special event. It doesn’t have to be perfectly executed to be fun. Sometimes the funniest moments come from being spontaneous and seizing the moment. Keep it light and you’ll have an entertaining class.

EDUCATOR

“UM GRANDE INSTRUTOR É TAMBÉM UM PROFESSOR COM FACILIDADE DE FALAR EM PÚBLICO, QUE LEVA OS PRATICANTES A PERCEBER OS BENEFÍCIOS DO EXERCÍCIO FÍSICO NA ÁGUA”

A great instructor is also a teacher and public speaker who helps students understand the benefits of aquatic exercise. The most important skill instructors can teach their students is body awareness. Finding and maintaining proper posture while moving is a valuable skill to master. Participant education begins with explaining the purpose of an exercise and identifying the muscles being worked. It is helpful to learn and show different methods for varying impact and speed. Other options need to be given for those with injuries or chronic conditions. This lets everyone have a successful workout.

STUDENT

“UM PROFISSIONAL DO FITNESS É UM ESTUDANTE TODA A VIDA…”

Professional fitness instructors are lifetime students. They must stay up to date with industry standards to continue providing participants with the safest and most effective exercises and information. To achieve this, keeping certifications current and seeking continuing education is a must. Unfortunately, fitness education does not come cheap!

Attending workshops and conferences are the best way to network and see what others are doing. Other options include reading books, watching fitness videos, and participating in regular in-service trainings. These tools provide instructors with new ways to challenge their classes in a safe way. Fitness education will continue throughout an instructor’s career.

ROLE MODEL

“UM INSTRUTOR É UM LÍDER, É UM MODELO E UM EXEMPLO QUER NA AULA QUER FORA DELA”

How do you picture a professional fitness instructor? How do they look, speak, and carry themselves? An instructor is “on stage” from the moment they walk in the door. Dressing professional, posture, and a smile are non-verbal messages making up this image. A great instructor enthusiastically shows and promotes their belief in aquatic exercise. They lead by example and stay physically fit. In addition, they create a presence by making themselves available before and after class. The leader of the group is a model for aquatic fitness.

MANAGER

“CONSEGUE GERIR A CLASSE DA MELHOR FORMA E SEMPRE DE FORMA SEGURA, ASSEGURANDO QUE TODAS AS REGRAS SÃO CUMPRIDAS”

An instructor’s main duty is to lead and execute the class. This requires management skills, including being a lifeguard if one is not on duty. This may involve enforcing facility policy, rules and regulations. Handling problems such as cold water, a grumpy participant, class disruptions, and technical difficulties are everyday occurrences. How participants react is reflective of the instructor’s ability to stay upbeat. Keep it a fun and positive place to work out.

A strong instructor also recognizes the importance of member retention. The ability to make clients feel comfortable and welcome is essential. Greeting everyone and identifying new participants helps create a warm environment. Students who develop relationships soon become regular class participants. Class community and friendships are developed through the sharing of events and activities.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON
“UM BOM INSTRUTOR NÃO DEIXA QUE AS SUAS DISTRACÇÕES OU PREOCUPAÇÕES INFLUENCIEM NEGATIVAMENTE A CLASSE.”

It is challenging to lead a class when something is going on in an instructor’s personal life. The class must go on and it is important to leave personal issues outside. A successful instructor does not let these distractions influence their class. Additional factors such as water temperature and environmental challenges can affect a class plan. When the water is cold, the class will have to be intense to maintain body warmth. Overheated water requires reduced level activity. Being flexible and adaptable, with the ability to improvise separates the GREAT instructor from the good instructor.

“SER FLEXÍVEL E ADAPTÁVEL, COM HABILIDADE DE IMPROVISAR, SEPARA O EXCELENTE PROFESSOR DO BOM INSTRUTOR.”