Episode 7: Adrienne Poullas
Adrienne Poullas is the Aquatic Coordinator of the Hubbard Community Pool in Hubbard, Ohio.
Adrienne joined the Aquaholics Bootcamp to share her aquatic fitness journey from a student to instructor and now her dream job, as director of the facility. Sounds like a fast tracked story since her initial reaction to getting in the pool was “Heck No!”, but then cut to her taking her FIRST Aqua Stand Up class and she’s hooked.
Taking 4-6 classes per week, Adrienne also explains how aqua fitness helped her lose 50 pounds after her second pregnancy and why she recommends the aquatic environment for all expectant mothers.
After the birth of her second son, Adrienne's courage shined through as she dared to get back up on deck and teach her wave warriors again, even though she was still fighting through postpartum, working part time and motherhood. Talk about a little stress?! Yet she kept going, set goals for herself, but led with grace.
Take a listen below to how this mermaid flexed her muscles and continued to make waves both in and out of the pool, while going after the life she wanted.
Name Drops: AEA, Amy Landino, Ashley Bishop, Aqua Stand Up, Hubbard Community Pool, HydroRevolution, IAFC, Yoga with Adriene
Full Episode Transcript:
Jenni Lynn: Joining us today is Adrienne Poullas, Aquatic Coordinator of the Hubbard Community Pool. Adrienne is AEA and ACE Group Fitness Instructor certified and also holds certifications in WIM Platinum, HydroRevolution and Aqua Stand Up. As you will hear in the interview, she started at the pool as a student, then an instructor and now a director. Adrienne, welcome to the program.
Adrienne: Thank you. I'm so excited.
AJ: How you doing?
Adrienne: I'm good. How are you? I missed you guys.
Jenni Lynn: You know, this has been too long. This is getting ridiculous.
Adrienne: It's been a bummer.
AJ: Yeah. But you know what's been great? Since Jenni and I started this podcast, we've been actually able to connect with people who we used to see every year at IAFC, and several other places. And it's just been really great to reconnect in this new digital world we're in.
Adrienne: Yeah, like it almost gives you more opportunities to connect, as opposed to like one time a year, you know, in Florida when we're all together. So that is really cool.
AJ: Absolutely. So Adrienne, where are you calling from?
Adrienne: I'm calling from Hubbard, Ohio. It's a small suburb of Youngstown, in between Youngstown and the Pennsylvania border. We're right on the edge there.
Jenni Lynn: So I don't know why I'm even realizing that I don't know more about your background, because I think we met, what was it three or four years ago four? I have no concept of time anymore.
Adrienne: I know. Right. What day is it? I think it was when I was pregnant with Roscoe so IAFC 2018. Maybe?
Jenni Lynn: Wow. Okay. It seems like so much longer. But it that's a good thing. We've just it's like we've known each other so much in a short period of time. I'm curious, how did you yourself find yourself in aquatic fitness? Like, was it just going to the Hubbard pool? or were you were a swimmer?
Adrienne: No, I know, I hated the water. I didn't like being wrinkled and pruny. It was something that wasn't on my list of favorite things. I straight up, like if we ever went somewhere that had a pool, like I get into cool off, but I wasn't hanging out in there. Like I don't, I don't like being wrinkly. So my husband actually got deployed in September of 2016. And I had an eight month old, my first. I had one little eight month old and I was working part time and 10 days before he left, we sold our house. And I had to move an entire 2400 square foot house with an eight month old and no husband, and nowhere to go.
Jenni Lynn: Wow.
Adrienne: And it was very stressful. And I ended up gaining about 30 pounds while he was gone. And it was only four months. So actually, mutual friends of ours, Craig and Patrick, ended up becoming my next door neighbors. And at the time, Craig was director of the Hubbard Pool.
Jenni Lynn: Yes.
Adrienne: Shortly after that Patrick took over as director and they had been trying to get me in the pool for I don't know how long and I kept pushing them away and push them away. Finally, I said okay, fine. I'll come and take one class. But I'm telling you, I'm not going to like it. And the first class I took was Aqua Stand Up, which here at the pool, it's probably our toughest class. And I loved it. And I bought a package that day and I never got back out and I ended up taking oh geez, four to six classes a week. I was here as a participant. I lost 50 pounds in about six months, which totally helps how much you love the water when you see how effective it is.
Jenni Lynn: Yeah!
Adrienne: You know, I was one one year postpartum when I started coming and I was bigger than I was when I was pregnant. So that was a huge plus for me was this works. This works better than running. This works better than gym time, for me personally. My body took to the water very well. So then I said Hydro Spin was my favorite, I said, I want to teach Hydro Spin. So they put me on the bikes. And I started teaching Hydro Spin. And I said, okay, I want to do all the things. I want to teach everything. I want to learn everything. This concept of how your body works in the water, and how beneficial it is to you was so fascinating to me. I just started learning everything I could. So I got AEA certified in 2018. 2019, I attended IAFC and got my GFI, my ACE GFI. And then March of 2020, well, I started teaching on deck, which was very scary for me, actually. I was always in the pool, you know, with the bike.
Jenni Lynn: Yeah.
Adrienne: So getting there and being on deck was it was a vulnerable thing for me, especially, because I didn't start till after the birth of my second son. So I wasn't in the shape I was when I started here and how people remembered me. And it was, it was a vulnerable thing for me to get up there and put myself out there and, you know, do it. And it took a while for them to really twist my arm and get me up there. But I did. And then as soon as I got comfortable enough, I knew that that was where I belonged. I might be the director now, but those days that I'm out there on deck like that is where my heart is, is out there teaching and instructing and being with my students like, that's where my first true love is.
Jenni Lynn: Listen to those swimmers.
Adrienne: They're celebrating something...
AJ: They just opened every pool across the country!
Jenni Lynn: You know, I saw the Facebook group that you're doing. And that was absolutely amazing. And now I've seen on your Instagram stories that you are doing yoga, is this kind of your way to keep yourself grounded? Almost like meditating for you during these times?
Adrienne: Yeah, you know, like, I was a full time mom before this and take still being a full time mom and now taking on a full time job and a husband who drives 100 miles a day to work. And, you know, managing all of this has been...it's been a challenge, you know, trying to make sure that I'm still taking care of myself. I had to find something like yes, I'm here and I'm teaching and I'm getting my work out there. But sometimes that's work. And I needed something that was just for me. And so I used it as a way to just kind of like get me going in the morning and get me like focused for my day. And it has been so helpful. I'm going to I'm only doing a 30-day thing. But I'm going to I told Nick, I said I'm going to keep doing this, I'm going to find all I'm just going to keep doing it every morning. It's only 20 or 30 minutes, and it just, it starts my day on a totally different foot than I was starting before.
Jenni Lynn: Good.
AJ: I love that.
Adrienne: But the yoga that I'm taking, I'm taking Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, I love her. She has given direction to me in yoga practice that I can now give to my students here that makes it easy to understand and accomplish. So instead of saying tighten your core, squeeze your abs, blah, blah, blah. I say tuck those lower ribs in or push your bellybutton through your spine. And that they can understand So it's helping me personally, mentally get focused. It's helping me in my job as well, and to help my students. It's been like a double whammy for me, you know, it's benefiting just me but I'm able to help others as well.
AJ: Yeah, Jenni during this pandemic, you started a morning routine yourself following the advice of Amy Landino. And I think it's really important for people or instructors and people whose lives have been, you know, turned upside down and don't have the same work schedule that they used to, to find a routine that works for them. And if this is working for you yoga in the morning, there's no reason to stop even when pools reopen and you're back to work. Now, do you want to share Who do you follow online for inspiration? You mentioned Yoga with Adriene, I'm assuming that's a different Adrienne than yourself.
Adrienne: We have I have two N's in my name and she only has one. So I do her yoga daily. She's really great. Honestly, this is not just because I am on your podcast, but Jenni has been invaluable to me since I started in aquatics. Um, actually, I think it was today it came up in my timehop my stickers you sent me last year. It came up that one year ago, I got my little care package for me with my little mermaids. And my little note and in the winter, when I was talking about you know, maybe starting my own brand before I got this job, I mean, you talked to me on the phone for so long, and it has been invaluable information that I get from you. So I appreciate that so much. And Ashley always has great content to, Ashley Bishop, she was on here a couple sessions ago, she's she always has awesome content. And it's so motivating, because she is the most organized person how
Jenni Lynn: Oh my gosh...
Adrienne: You want to be organized just being around her!
AJ: So true.
Jenni Lynn: So true. And I The thing that I love, and like I can hear what you're saying, I just love women supporting women. And it feels so good to meet other strong women like yourself and take each other's strengths to be like, okay, I can see, like you just said with Ashley, her organization skills, I lack in that 100% have my entire life. But like that was motivation. The people she referred me to his motivation. Meeting you and seeing you being a mother and working your tail off in the pool. Like, just seeing how hard you worked while being a full time mom was. I mean, it's mind blowing. Because, you know, there's just a lot of things that you're juggling. And as you even said, you were basically single mom as your husband's deployed and doing all of this stuff by yourself, you know, for your family.
Adrienne: I appreciate that. Yeah, it's, but you know what, it comes down to like, what other choice do you have? If this is what you truly want to do in your life? And this is your dream? You there's no other choice then to just dig in and do it. And having people like you and Ashley, and Yoga with Adriene, who centers me in the morning to have that support system, even if, you know, Yoga with Adriene doesn't know who the crap I am. But, you know, that's part of my support system that I take on for myself, and to have those types of women, not just women, anybody in your life that does that, you got to lean into that. You lean into that support, and you use it to fuel your fire. And that is something that in this season of my life, especially with COVID, and the quarantine, I really leaned into that, because I didn't have another choice, and I want to do it. And that was what was my heart and my soul. And I knew that if I wanted to be the best pool director I could be and the best mom and the best fitness instructor and be there for myself and the best wife, I had to lean into all these different people that inspire and motivate me and draw that energy from them to fill me up.
AJ: Yeah, right. I love that. That's great advice.
Jenni Lynn: Very, very good advice. So a question I did want to ask you is what advice would you give to other expecting mothers or I guess mothers who have come out of pregnancy? Maybe they're struggling with losing the weight? Like what would you tell them as far as taking aquatic fitness, any advice or tips that you would extend?
Adrienne: First of all, you got to be super easy on yourself. Hold yourself accountable but don't beat yourself up. Your body just did the most amazing thing that bodies can do, which was literally birth another human. It's never going to be the same. And that's okay. It's okay. I look different after Jordi and I look different after Rosco, in different ways your body just holds on to things differently, and just have to lead with grace. So as far as getting in the pool for me, during pregnancy, it was so relieving. And it takes so much pressure off of all those different places that just being pregnant, puts on your body. I mean, your back hurts, especially later on when you're getting bigger and bigger and bigger, you know, just a lot to carry.
So even if you do nothing but get in and walk back and forth, just just getting in and using that buoyancy to take some of the pressure off of all of those parts of your body that are hurting, do it. But even just if you don't want to get in the pool, take a walk, just do anything. I've written an article for the AEA website about the benefits of working out during pregnancy. And even less than physically, mentally...I mean, naturally, when you work out your body makes endorphins. Endorphins make you happy and it could be a mood changer. The mental part can be so, so beneficial. And if you're a first time Mom, you have all those anxieties before you have that baby because you've never done this before, you know? So if you're nervous about labor, if you're nervous about the delivery, exercise. It doesn't have to be in the pool. Do I want you to get in the pool? Heck yes, that's my number is I want you to be but if you don't want to get in the pool or you can't get in a pool, go for a walk. Find something to move your body because recovering after that is going to be so much easier. I was out four days postpartum.
Adrienne: I had worked the whole time I was pregnant, to prepare my body for that.
AJ: Yeah. And do you believe that aquatic fitness is a safe, or I should say a safer place to work out for expectant mothers?
Adrienne: From experience for me, I am short. I'm five one. So when I get pregnant, my belly has nowhere else to go but straight out front. At even six months pregnant, to run, that is awful. It feels awful. It hurts. It looks awful. It just I mean, some people do it. And you know, my sister in law, she ran until I think the day before she gave birth to one of my niece's. She doesn't have big bellies when she's pregnant. I do. But some people work for me personally. And what I would say is if anything hurts you at all ever, get in the water, because that natural buoyancy...if you're swollen, get in the water. That hydro-static pressure is going to help to push that fluid were born or out of your body completely. So I mean, I could go on and on and on about why getting in the water when you're pregnant is literally the greatest thing you could do.
AJ: Mm hmm. Well, I don't mean to put you on the spot, you and Jenni. But what are some of the the actual physical changes that happen when you're in the water that would affect a person who's pregnant?
Jenni Lynn: Well, I mean, as Adrian mentioned, hydro-static pressure. Not only does that get rid of extra, you know, fluids that your body is holding on to, but it lowers your natural heart rate. So you know, you're in a safer environment, in that respect, but also the fact that you're not going to fall, you know. Like on land, gravity, that your weight is already offset due to a belly or imbalances, your gait starts to widen, everything starts to shift. And so you're just naturally safer on so many different levels in water.
AJ: Yeah, that makes sense. And then post post delivery, you mentioned Adrienne, that dealing with postpartum depression and other feelings that exercise and in particular water exercise and fitness was key to your recovery.
Adrienne: Yeah, yeah, it totally was. I couldn't wait to get back in the pool and I had to wait six weeks. That's just that's just what it is. I didn't have to wait six weeks to exercise. But I had to wait six weeks to get back in that pool. And the day I went to my doctor's appointment and she said, you get back in the pool, I was here. Because I couldn't wait. And I really don't think I crawled completely out of my postpartum anxiety or depression until I got back in the water. I mean, the walking helped, but I don't think I fully like crawled out until I was back here. And I don't know if it's just because I love the water or because the water is so healing in all different aspects. But for me, I did not...I didn't crawl out completely until I got back in the pool.
AJ: I love that.
Jenni Lynn: Wow.
AJ: Yeah, that's important. So where do you see yourself taking your career in aquatic fitness next? I mean, clearly you have your dream job right now. But you mentioned, you know, forming your own brand and working on your own material. Where do you see yourself taking it next?
Adrienne: I still want to do those things. You know, I before I knew that this position was imminent possibility, which meant, you know, it was approaching a lot quicker than than I thought. I still would love to become a master trainer for AEA because like I said, my first love is up on that deck. It's instructing. It's learning like anything that has to do with aquatics. I would really love to focus on pre- and postnatal research. And I have reached out to to those that can help me with that. But like I said, my goals and you know, my five and 10 year plan and my list it still has, you know, AEA master trainer on it still has those things on there. It's just right now my focus is here and but my heart's in instructing and leading and I'd really like to get back to that eventually. But do I love being a director of a pool? Absolutely. I don't see myself leaving this position for a long time. We're tied to the school. Jordi is going to start kindergarten here like literally one door away from me next year. I love this as my full time gig, but I still would love to just really nurture that instructor part of me and that love I have for that and learning and you know, being knowledgeable because, you know, knowledge is power.
Jenni Lynn: Hundred percent.
Adrienne: And the more you know, the better you are at your job. And if you love your job, you want to be the best at it that you can. So I want to do all the things I want all the certificates. And I want to know all the stuff.
AJ: That's amazing. And then of course, when our S'WET certificate launches, you will become a S'WET certified instructor.
Adrienne: I already I'm first on the list.
Jenni Lynn: Oh, I already told her, I said now that she's the director, I'm coming there, and we're gonna get a group going and it's gonna. Hubbard will carry the S'WET cert.
Adrienne: I will be first on that list. I probably won't be the first, because I know everyone is so excited for that program to roll out.
Jenni Lynn: Excitement all around.
Adrienne: Well, and I know how hard you've been working - always, but especially since you've had the time. Yeah, you know, to really focus on it. So I'm so excited for you.
Jenni Lynn: Oh, thank you. I was just I mean, again, so excited to meet another aquatic enthusiastic person because, you know, there's so many people that you meet within the industry that they start as a student, they get curious about it. And some of them stay students and they become our leaders and they, you know, pave the way to help us with management and things like that. But then there's people like yourself, who actually take it that step further. And they're like, yeah, I'm willing to teach and put myself up there and be vulnerable, like you said, and then now, having these opportunities fall into place, you've taken it to that next level, and you're helping other people become inspired and educated and showing them, these are the paths that I took, they could help you, and you have many other paths to take to because you know, there's so much versatility within this industry.
Adrienne: Yeah, I tried to get as many people like that, that stereotype of water robots is for old people just absolutely kills me, because it's not true. Well, no. And then when people say how do you know your weight, and I'm like, I got in the pool, I did water aerobics, and they're like, what?! So I just I try to just feed that and not I could go on and on. Honestly, I could go on and on about all the benefits and why you should do it and how to get them in the pool. And, you know, I mean, you know, you know, I know, it's my life's goal to get people into water.
Jenni Lynn: Exactly. But this is also where Katy Coffey said we have to change the stigma by changing the wording because there is so much power in words and it's not water aerobics, it's not aquatic aerobics, or whatever you want to call it, water fitness, aquatic fitness, you know, adding these words that really resonate with a different demographic, so to speak, because as we know, aerobics is a little dated. So we're changing it.
Adrienne: Yeah, that was one of the first things I did when I started doing the schedule and stuff here was I changed everything that said water aerobics to aquatic fitness.
AJ: Oh, I love it.
Adrienne: I did it on our schedule on our calendar, on our website, I went right in and changed it immediately. And I don't say water aerobics instructor, you know, on our staff page. It says, aquatic fitness instructor because that's what they are.
AJ: It's true. Many people have shared their opinions about the misconceptions with aquatic fitness. And you know, you mentioned just one of them again, that it's for old people. It's not. Certainly there's room for everyone in the pool and there are people who are less agile and not able to necessarily keep up with every format that's out there. But the water is for everyone. The other misconception that I think we don't talk about that often is how effective it can be. You lost how many pounds?
Adrienne: 50? Five-Zero
AJ: 50. I lost four-zero. 40 pounds. And it's not something and that's all I did. 3 days a week, you know, of course, I had Jenni as my instructor, so she certainly didn't you know, lesson her.
Jenni Lynn: Oh I didn't hold back.
AJ: You did not hold back. But she saw me, she knew how unhealthy and unhappy I was. And then lo and behold, you know, 40 pounds later and it's just something that I think people forget about. It's so easily forgotten and overlooked in the industry. And so that's why we're so happy to bring people like you and others on who are saying, you know, no, this is for everyone. It's effective. It works. It's safe. And there's so many other benefits that we could go on and on and on about...
Jenni Lynn: So I do have another question being that you are a very versatile instructor and you teach many different types of formats. First question, what is your favorite format to teach? Second, what is your favorite format to take?
Adrienne: I knew you were gonna do this to me...I think this is why we're so like, drawn to each other because like, my favorite to teach is, basically just like you. I love a bootcamp interval. Let me kick your butt for this amount of time and then I'll give you a little active recovery and then I'm going to go back to kicking your butt again. My favorite class to take. Oh, geez, that's hard. I do love anything HydroRevolution, anything with resistance equipment. But when we and I'm not just saying this, because it was you. But when we did the HydroRevolution training here, and we had the circuit. Oh, I love a circuit. Yes, I love a circuit. I love a bootcamp, I love something that's gonna challenge me because I am competitive.
AJ: You know, in a lot of Jenni's classes, I remember, you know, there would be different types of people and some you knew personally, others you didn't. And there was a sense of competition where you were like, Oh, she's doing hammer drops? Oh, I'm gonna make the biggest splash. And you just come, you know, and I really think aquatic fitness puts you in a position where you can be that competitive without hurting yourself. Because if I were doing that at CrossFit or anywhere else, you know, on land, I probably end up in the hospital.
Jenni Lynn: Right?
AJ: Well, Adrienne, as we're, as we're wrapping up here, I do want to ask you, because you made the journey from student to instructor to director, and I'm sure there are many others who would vie for that path as well, what advice would you give to people who want to kind of follow in your footsteps? Or who have never explored aquatic fitness? Maybe advice you'd give to them? As we're wrapping up here.
Adrienne: Oh, geez. You know, for me, the class was fulfilling, the class was so fulfilling, being a student was so fulfilling, it was something that was just for me. But knowing that I got to, I still get to get up there and help people, or to show people something that they did not know existed. I have a couple ladies right now who showed up here maybe two weeks ago and never took a class, never did anything. And their first class was with me, and they got out of the pool and said, I did not know I could feel like this.
Jenni Lynn: Wow.
Adrienne: And that is something that if in your life, you want to make a difference, even if it's something little. Try it. If you're a student, and you're trying to find something to fulfill, you, something to just let you know you're doing something, you're contributing in some way to anything, even as little as just changing someone's mood for one day, because coming to an aqua class is going to change your mood. Coming to any workout class will change your mood. But if you if you're looking for something to fulfill you in another way, or to to fulfill someone else, just try it. And you're already in the industry, just make the jump, take the jump and if the opportunity arises for you to do what you truly love, regardless of whether it's becoming director of your pool or starting your own brand or becoming a master trainer, you owe it to yourself to do it. Because I have never been more fulfilled in my life, in my almost 35 years, than I am right now as my dream job. My kids are amazing. My husband is awesome. I have a wonderful family have a great group of friends. I have mentors. I have people who are wonderful friends and inspirations to me. And it was because I took the chance. And I accepted help when I needed it. And I wasn't too proud to ask for things. Ask questions, because 99% of the time that person is going to be thrilled that you cared enough to ask it.
Jenni Lynn: Yep. Absolutely.
AJ: I love that.
Jenni Lynn: I love it. Could not have said it better. Honestly, there's so many things that you've touched on that are so important for other people to hear.
AJ: Well, it's a great note to end on. And Adrienne, thank you so much for sitting down with us.
Jenni Lynn: Yes, thank you so much.
Adrienne: Thank you guys for having me. I'm super honored. Anyway, I can help in any way I can, you know move aquatic fitness along, I am happy.
Jenni Lynn: Please give the nuggets kisses for me.
Adrienne: I will.
AJ: And please thank your husband for his service.
Adrienne: Oh, I will.
Jenni Lynn: You guys make such a good team. All right, have a good one. We'll talk to you soon.
Adrienne: Thanks you too!