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Breaking into the Business of Aquatic Fitness

Guest Blogger: Ann Gilbert

Are you ready to bust into the business of becoming an aquatic fitness professional?

The benefits of exercising in the aquatic environment are widely acknowledged among our instructors and fitness enthusiasts alike. This low-impact setting alleviates pressure from joints, elongates the spine, offers natural resistance, and provides a sense of comfort and playfulness. However, becoming a successful coach in this field demands a higher level of confidence compared to the past.

Today's instructors must excel at persuading non-exercisers or newcomers to embrace the benefits awaiting them as soon as they step foot into the pool.

Venturing into this business requires becoming an expert as well as a fitness "influencer" of sorts for your students, presenting ample opportunities for professional growth and expansion within the fitness and wellness industry. As aquatic leaders, it's crucial to approach this endeavor with utmost dedication, as it can open new career pathways.

When embarking on the journey into aquatic fitness, certification becomes a non-negotiable requirement. It transcends simply learning a format, routine, or specialization.

Certification equips coaches with an understanding of human movement in the aquatic environment, enabling them to comprehend the benefits of aquatic exercise for building strength, endurance, cardiovascular capacity, and improved activities of daily living. Moreover, certification empowers instructors to provide clear and professional cues, ensuring safe and effective workouts for all participants. It boosts confidence and helps establish the coach as a seasoned professional through effective branding.

Additionally, finding and reporting to a mentor is essential. Beyond passing the certification exam, the guidance of a mentor propels instructors toward their goals and creates meaningful experiences. To achieve success, consider the following steps:

  • Divide and Conquer: Break down your goals into small, achievable steps. Focus on one step at a time, mastering it before moving on to the next.

  • Overcome Fear: Embrace challenging moments even when failure appears imminent and the goal feels unattainable. Push through the fear and take action.

  • Anticipate Setbacks: Setbacks are a natural part of the process; they are not the end. After every setback, recommit yourself to your goals.

  • Learn Along the Way: Embrace a growth mindset, keeping what works for you and discarding what doesn't. Unexpected challenges serve as opportunities to acquire new skills.

  • Share Your Goals: Announce your aspirations to those who matter to you. Write about them in your blog, journal, and social media, solidifying your commitment to turning your goals into reality.

Remember how it felt when you took your first session and empathize with new students. While the die-hard participants will take care of themselves, focus on creating a positive experience for beginners who may feel intimidated and uncomfortable on day one.

By creating memorable and enjoyable sessions, you facilitate a positive long-term memory, making it easier for clients to return and continue their fitness journey!

Also, it it absolutely critical as an instructor you prioritize your own self-care, ensuring your own well-being. Protect yourself from the challenges of the pool deck and environment, as well as the physical demands of the job. Incorporate resistance training into your schedule at least twice a week, while fueling your energy to deliver exceptional experiences. Practice in the pool to ensure your program design is science-based and suitable for participants of all levels.

Equipped with the following tools, you are ready to embark on this exciting journey:

  • Certification

  • Mentorship

  • Strength Training

  • Safe Environment

  • Continuing Education

It's time to build your dynasty and embrace the endless possibilities in the new realm of aquatic fitness!


Ann Gilbert, CPT ACE, AEA, SCW, is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive who owns Shapes Fitness for Women. With a strong commitment to her teams and members, Ann has become an award-winning leader in the fitness industry, advocating for active longevity through innovative programs.

Recognized as part of the FOX 13 family in Tampa Bay and collaborating with various events and organizations, Ann's expertise spans over three decades, making her a sought-after speaker and inspirational figure.

Connect with Ann Gilbert on the following socials:

- Facebook: Ann D. Gilbert

- Instagram: Annfitt

- Creator: S.E.A.T: Supported Exercise for Ageless Training


You all know the expression, "you can't take care of others if you don't first take care of yourself."

As Ann points out in her blog, it is essential that as an instructor, especially in aquatic fitness, you practice regular self-care. Aqua professionals face their own unique challenges. To name just a few:

  • Demonstrating often on wet, unforgiving concrete floors, sometimes without proper padding provided.

  • Competing with loud music, muffled by the sounds of splashing water and likely kids screaming nearby.

  • Breathing in harsh chlorine-filled air, especially with indoor pools.

That's why we created "Instructor Self-Care: Vocal & Body Prep & Repair" with Chris LaCour!

In this 30-minute video, Chris LaCour shares a series of stretches for before and after class to promote flexibility and help prevent bodily injury. He also demonstrates vocal exercises that can be done before and after a class to prepare and repair your vocal cords and other sensitive areas of the throat! PREPARING & REPAIRING THE VOICE As a vocal instructor for 15 years, Chris entered the world of fitness instruction keenly aware of the need to prepare and protect his voice. He equates teaching a couple of classes to singing in a cabaret all night. Aside from the vocal exercises that Chris demonstrates before and after a class, he also provides some advice regarding what you consume before a class and the difference it makes in how hard your voice will need to work. Here are some good and bad options: Things to AVOID for optimum vocal health:

  • Caffeine

  • Cold/Icy Drinks

  • Chocolate

  • Sugary Drinks

  • Too much Citrus

  • Milk/Dairy

Things to CONSUME for optimum vocal health:

  • Herbal Teas

  • Honey

  • Lemon

  • Ginger

  • Warm Water (add a little lemon and/or honey)


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