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Calling All Men!

by Gordon King aka "Splash Gordon"

I am my father’s son. I’m a certified aquatic exercise instructor, and I’m a guy.


I’m also technically disabled, although it goes over better when I tell people that I have a disorder. I’m partially paralyzed and live with a rare autoimmune condition, which caused swelling in my spinal cord and damage to the nervous system. I have been athletic my entire life and was raised in an athletic family.


My father was a star athlete in West Virginia and was a walk on for the college basketball team, meaning he didn’t have a scholarship to pay for his education, and he was an exceptional guard. My Dad led the nation in scoring both his junior and senior year. When he graduated, he was drafted into professional basketball for the Syracuse Nationals and won the 1955 NBA championship with a last minute shot.


He went on to become a basketball coach, first for West Virginia University where he coached Jerry West, and later at Purdue University, where he was named Athletic Director after his second season there and spent the remaining 40 years there before he retired.


I played sports all through my educational years. Back then, everything was sponsored by the schools, whether it be junior high, high school or college. I wasn’t exceptional like my father but I enjoyed it nonetheless. After I graduated from Purdue University I moved to Los Angeles, California and spent the next 34 years in the entertainment industry as a theatrical agent and personal manager for actors. I decided to semi retire and moved to Palm Springs six years ago.


In June of 2017, I was diagnosed with Cervical Transverse Myelitis. It has been hard to come to terms with my disorder and it’s extremely painful. Every morning when I wake up and open my eyes, I am instantly reminded that I have this disorder. It takes me at least 10 minutes to get out of bed and warmed up enough to walk my dog, Bruce Springsteen.



I have been doing physical therapy in the water ever since the day I left the hospital. I finally decided in the summer of 2020 to stop feeling sorry for myself and turn lemons into lemonade. In the middle of Covid-19’s quarantine, I got my certification, and my first job came through the recommendation from the Aquatic Exercise Association.


I was hired for a 3-week period by a group of ladies who were visiting Palm Springs for three weeks of wellness and I taught them class every morning for 90 minutes. That one opportunity has blossomed and I now teach at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center, ran by the YMCA, which is one of the best facilities around and a very prestigious and sought after position. I also teach at three other country club communities.


I absolutely love what I do. I became certified as an instructor because I wanted to help people feel better about themselves and I wanted to share my passion and knowledge with others.


And this has been the most rewarding experience for me ever. It motivates me to do more and give my students and clients the best of what I can offer.

I have received so much positive feedback from students who have improved their skills and reduced their pain level. That’s the best part of it for me.


It’s been a goal of mine to focus on the male population and get them more involved. There’s a perception that water workouts are for the older female baby boomers. Men don’t think it’s going to be a challenging or effective workout for them. Well, if that’s the case, then they haven’t been to one of my classes. My workout programs are heavily based in the music, and the beats and tempo. I think music helps keep us entertained and uniformed with our movements.

Since starting at PDAC (Palm Desert Aquatic Center) in September of 2021, we have seen a 15 percent increase in male attendance. When I started at PDAC I would have one or maybe two men in my class and now it’s anywhere from 7 to 10 men in a class of 40 people. The numbers are getting stronger and men are hearing the call and seeing the results.


My clients love the Tabata classes. It’s hard for me to get them to do anything else. And that’s okay. I use the 20/10 work to rest ratio with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It’s a great way to engage with your clients.

What most people don't know (or accept) is that while aquatic fitness provides for good cardiopulmonary exercise, it can also build muscle strength. Because the head, arms and legs are doing different things, it can also increase coordination, plus the water's buoyancy prevents accidents from falling, while the resistance amplifies the effort and effect of movement.


There was a trend starting back in 2016 of more male instructors and class participants due to the baby boomers. And male instructors, who developed programs designed by men for men. A standout in this area and someone who is a mentor to me is Chris LeCour and his "Dude’s Move" series, along with Mark Grevelding of Fitmotivation.



The two have very different styles of instructing, proving that there’s room for everyone in the water. Chris has been one guy who specifically designed exercises for men. These are the most challenging moves and maneuvers that take time to learn and master. I think it helps to attract more men when there’s a male instructor and I focus on using more male-centric terms, like "Turbocharged Tabata" or the "Take No Prisoners Tabata."


It’s all in good fun, but it does seem to make a difference. After all, perception is everything.


I’m very fortunate to have the position of teaching "water workouts." That’s another male-centric term, and it’s my hope that more and more men, and young people join the millions of people who have improved the ADL’s (activities of daily living) and enjoy better health and lifestyles for many more years to come.


Discover the magic of the water.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gordon Scott King is owner of Splash Gordon's Water Workouts in Palm Springs, CA, an AEA certified instructor and aquatic fitness enthusiast. He currently teaches at The Palm Desert Aquatic Center, as well as at several other country club communities. He is loved and supported by his partner Ken Clark and his fluffy 7-year-old Maltese Shih Tzu, Bruce Springsteen.


Contact Splash Gordon:


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