5 Reasons to Get Certified to teach Water Fitness Classes

My route to water fitness was circuitous, but it is now my most prominent and successful mode of teaching. I was leading Gentle NIa and Ageless Grace at the Senior Center when my manager asked me if I had any interest in taking the SilverSneakers Splash Training so that she could have a sub for another instructor who hadn’t taken a vacation in 3 years. I grew up in the water, swam competitively, lifeguarded and taught swim lessons for many years; it seemed a natural fit so I said yes.After that 4-hour training, I learned that in order to actually be certified to teach the program I had to acquire an “aqua based general certification” on my own dime. And the path of least time, least money was to take the FiTour program online. It fulfilled the requirement, and I was officially ready.

If you’re transitioning from land to water-based instruction take FiTour for the exposure to the physics, physiology, general understanding of the difference between air and water. Better yet, take the AEA Aquatics Fitness Professional certification. That is a larger, more comprehensive, much more demanding leap, and is a primary certification, with many options for formats beyond the basic competence.

Here’s the thing–teaching on land where you are surrounded by air is very, very different from teaching in the water. If you teach on land with proficiency but haven’t spent much time in the water, it will be completely foreign–like teaching on the moon. If you teach on land and have spent time in the water as a competitive or recreational swimmer, you might think the transition will be a piece of cake–but really it isn’t.

The worst position to be in is the instructor who is confident on land, and steps into teaching a water fitness class not knowing how to be effective and safe in the water. Often the hiring manager or supervisor is also unaware of the different dynamics, liabilities, and training needed to be competent at teaching water fitness classes.

A few points to drive home the need for Water Fitness professional training:
  1. Managers or Supervisors may not understand that there is a whole different training and physiology in the water than on land. It isn’t just “Group Exercise” class in Water.
  2. Even if someone is just standing in water to the chest or neck and NOT moving, the baseline physiology is different than standing on land surrounded by air! Particularly blood pressure and heart rate.
  3. Water Fitness classes attract a clientele of individuals with a number of different physical issues, maladies, and disabilities, who find it
    uncomfortable or impossible to work out on land. Knowledge is needed for effective teaching and avoiding liability.
  4. Facilities hosting Water Fitness are often set up for other types of uses and may need some adjustments to accommodate the program, and the clientele.
  5. Resistance and flotation are different in the water, and so is the equipment. Dumbbells are not weights–they are flotation. The effects on muscle groups are different, adding another layer of complexity to designing a workout for the land-based professional.

I encourage you to jump in–it’s fun, healthy, and rewarding–and get your feet wet with training first!


“I hope we make you challenge the status quo, rethink what you know, and discover new group fitness experiences”

-Summer Sides,
Founder of GXunited

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