Episode 3: Christopher LaCour
Our guests this season have unknowingly exposed a common denominator.
Most of their fitness careers began by pure happenstance. In one instance, an instructor didn't show up for a class. Another had one quit on the spot and couldn't find a sub in time. And one guest revealed he just walked into a gym off the street and offered to teach a step class, without ever having done so before in his life...
All these instructors, by the way, have another thing in common.
They're some of the most dynamic aqua fitness professionals in the industry right now.
As Christopher LaCour shares with the Aquaholics Bootcamp, his journey to becoming an #aquaticfitness instructor began with a serious back injury requiring spinal surgery. "That was Jenni's opportunity to go, 'Get in here!'" Jenni, of course, being our show's host and Christopher's wife, and "here" meaning one of her many aqua classes.
It wasn't long before consistent work in the pool brought his strength back. In fact, Christopher improved so well and so fast, Jenni Lynn found herself trying out new things just to keep him motivated and working hard. She reveals in the below episode, most of the creative and intense exercises she threw at Chris became the inspiration and basis for her S'WET™ program.
Be sure to check out Christopher's Instructor Self-Care video for tips and tricks on how you can stay healthy and happy as an active instructor. Learn a series of stretches for before and after class to promote flexibility and prevent bodily injury as well as 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.
Full Episode Transcript:
Jenni Lynn: Joining us today is the first certified S'WET instructor Christopher LaCour. Chris has been an aquatic instructor and personal trainer for the last seven years, as well as a professional vocal coach and actor here in New York City. Welcome to the program, a real jack of all trades, Christopher LaCour.
AJ: Yay. Welcome, Chris.
Chris: Hi, guys, how you doing? Thanks for having me.
AJ: Well, for purposes of full disclosure, you were named a real jack of all trades, and probably one of the biggest jacks for Christopher is also being Jenni Lynn's loving and amazing husband.
Jenni Lynn: Aww...yeah.
AJ: So Chris, you're in New York City, obviously with Jenni. How have you been keeping yourself active and healthy during this crazy lockdown and quarantine?
Chris: Oh, boy, active and healthy? Well, having a routine is a big thing to make sure you have at times like this because you have to be doing something all the time or else boredom sets in and you find yourself on social media all the time. So you know, we do a little yoga every day, walking multiple times a day, we've been putting out videos online for people. So that's kept us active as well fitness wise. And other than that, it's been actually a lot of recovery time. We're active regularly, so much that this is actually a nice time to take advantage of not doing anything. Or taking it a little easier than we normally would. So that's been good.
AJ: That's great. Yeah. Well, for people who don't know you or your story, can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in aquatic fitness, and maybe your background in fitness training?
Chris: Well, before water fitness, all I had done was play sports, at the high school level, a little bit college level, not really professional college, but during college. Fitness was kind of on the back burner. And after I had met Jenni, she had just recently gotten into water fitness. And at the time when we had met which was 15 years ago as a while ago, she introduced me to it originally I'd never took a class. And then I had a very serious back injury due to a snowboarding accident. And I had to have surgery six months after that on my spine. And I had atrophied so much that I couldn't go back into a gym and lift weights. It was just not happening. So that was Jenni's opportunity to go, "get in here. I've been telling you to get in the pool so get in."
AJ: So before that point, you had never tried out one of her classes or she was still really new to teaching that herself?
Chris: I don't even remember having too many conversations about even going. I think it was like, "Hey, you know if you have time, come check it out." And I'd be like, yeah, okay, right. I was kind of anti gym anyway. I'm not a gym person naturally.
AJ: Gotcha. Jenni, do you remember the first time Chris got in the pool?
Jenni Lynn: Oh, my gosh. Well, I think more than anything, I never pressured him because I was a little nervous to have him in class. You know, there was something a little easier about teaching to people who were just the gym regulars or people I didn't know,i meeting for the first time...But when it's people you know, I get more anxious about it, because there's more pressure to meet the expectations of what it's going to be.
AJ: That's interesting. Well, you're kind of almost performing. Beyond, you know, your regular audience, now you have someone who's kind of extra special watching.
Jenni Lynn: Yes, exactly. And I was excited that he had to get into the pool, not obviously excited about the injury, but very excited about him getting in water. And he was a really good student in the sense that he already had body control, and I think that comes from playing sports. But also, he didn't push himself too hard in the beginning, which you shouldn't especially coming from post injury or surgery. And after a while, I think he just got really strong in a short period of time. And from that point, that is really when S'WET started to be born, because I wanted to push him specifically harder in the water. So it became this, like, what can I do to make this the most extreme water bootcamp class ever?
AJ: Yeah, for sure. So Chris, you injured your back, you got in class, how long after that did something click and you say, I don't want to just take this, I want to teach this?
Chris: Well, it was a few things. So after taking Jenni's classes for such a while, I think a couple years, I had started to just get creative with the things she was doing. For myself in the water, and I would, I would just do these random moves, and she would kind of pick up on it and be like, that was cool. And we, you know, she would start to throw them into our classes. And she would come up with more ideas off of that. And so things just started growing naturally, as far as the intensity of the workout that was being done. And I think her students started to catch on.
At the time, being an actor and a musician, I kind of had pockets of time in my day. Jenni had been running into an issue of finding substitutes at her gyms that could teach at the same intensity level for her students. They would get subs, and, you know, other people teach great, you know, there's no problem with their way. But some students expect subs to teach the way that their teacher teaches. And if that doesn't happen, they get a little upset, especially in New York, they like things a very certain way. So that kept happening. And Jenni said, you know, you've been taking this for so long, and you're already a teacher, you know, you teach voice. You went to school for that. So why don't you think about doing fitness and just getting certified and then you can just jump into the gyms and you know, be my sub? And I was like, that makes sense, like, there's no reason for me not to do that. We'll make some money. I get free gym membership. You know? And so that's what I did. I really took my time doing my NASM and my ACE certifications. I didn't rush it. And once I received them, I also got my AEA certification around the same time. I kind of did everything within I'd say a two year span. Slowly, just one after the other. I started going down to IAFC with Jenni Lynn down in Tampa. And through all of that, it just became what it is...I started teaching more after and I would say people would be like, you should offer you own class too. And so I started teaching classes. And yeah, it's bloom from there.
AJ: You know, I'm glad that you found it to be as rewarding as Jenni does, and I think many other instructors do.
Chris: Oh, it's incredible. I mean, first of all, I'd never stayed with any sort of workout ever in my life for more than a couple of weeks. I hate working out, like I said, I hate gyms. So getting into a pool, I was like, okay, like, I can swim, but pools ain't my jam, but I'm gonna do it anyway. And I fell in love with it so quick, just because of how it made my body feel. And so when the opportunity came to teach, I was like I love doing this, like other people are gonna love doing this too. And no guys are doing this, which is ridiculous to me. So yeah, let me jump in here and help Jenni, help our business and, you know, help other people who should know about this. Because this is kind of an unspoken fitness thing that's going on.
Jenni Lynn: Yeah, for sure. How would you say teaching aquatic fitness has changed your life now that you're a teacher for several years?
Chris: You know, it's very interesting being a performer, an actor and musician and also a teacher. Teaching aquatics, there's so many similarities that are involved. One you're on deck, which is very similar to being on a stage. You have an audience staring at you. And literally everything you do, they are at your whim, there at your fingertips. You go left, they go left, you know? It's like you take them on your journey with you as a performer. That's your job. So to translate it onto a deck, it's not the exact same thing, but there are definitely similarities. You know, you have to know how to control a group of people. You have to know what your plan is going in. And so I just really took to it much easier than I had assumed I would coming from a teaching background and also creative background that has taught me how to think on my feet, which is very much a style that you Jenni teach, you know? A compartmentalized style that allows you to be creative within it, right? And so I took to that so easily. And the more I did it, the more it started to make sense to me, like, Oh, this is why this is so fun. For me, this is why I like this so much. You know, I like interacting with people, I like doing something for people and seeing that they're getting something from it. As a performer, that's why we perform, you know? Yeah, we're a little egotistical, but the whole point is to influence people and their lives. So if I can do that, not only as a creative artist, you know, I can now do it also as a person who can help their physical life as well, not just their emotional life. So it's great for me, I love it.
Jenni Lynn: Absolutely. I know, you've heard me talk about it. Over the years, the misconceptions of aquatic fitness that we've been touching on, especially trying to get either the younger population, the more able bodied or men into the pool...How would you say that you are now working to change that misconception from being an instructor yourself now?
Chris: So the way that I'm able to teach on deck is kind of very physical. I yell. I'm a voice coach, I can use my voice very effectively. So it sounds like I'm a football coach yelling at people when I'm telling them what to do in a pool, which for someone younger, like they're be like, Whoa, this guy's doing this? Okay, there must be something to this. I think it is what you are bringing to the stage. Just like any performer, you know? And that's not to say because you don't teach a hardcore, intense fitness style that you're not going to bring men in. It's not that at all. Your personality has a lot to do with it, too. You know, like, if you know, and you really believe in the thing that you are doing, and the thing that you are trying to teach people to help better their life and you truly believe in it, the knowledge of it, and you know what it does for people, when someone asks you about it, that information is going to come out in spades, or it should. And people can either take it, or leave it. But either way, like, it's not your job to convince every guy that walks in the door looks at your class, like getting the you know, get in a pool. There are plenty of men that come downstairs, look at me, look at what I'm doing, smirk, and I just look at them like, alright, later, you know? You can't let it affect you because everybody has an audience, and your audience will find you. You just have to know what you're bringing to the table, and just keep doing it.
AJ: First of all, in New York City, your classes typically in some gyms, the men outnumber the women two to one. Like your students, you have more male students in your classes than female students. So if you could, Chris, if you could give a piece of advice to someone, a male or someone of a younger age or someone who has never tried aquatic fitness that ever, besides getting them into the pool to try it, what would you say? What are they missing out on?
Chris: The one thing I constantly tell people, I say, this is the most deceptive workout you will ever take. And just know that the more you stick with this, the more it is going to help you long term, longer than any other workout you're going to really be able to do. But that's my take. I've never done a workout that has benefited me so greatly for everything else that I do and doesn't negatively affect me in any way.
AJ: Yeah. Well, you mentioned that when you're up on deck, just like on stage, you get to kind of fulfill that performer itch that you have naturally. You're an actor, and you're singer. And you also you offer voice lessons, right?
Chris: So yeah, I've been a vocal coach for many, many years. Very, kind of quietly. I've had a bunch of students. I don't advertise. It's kind of by word of mouth. I have some well known actors that I've worked with, some Broadway people, young children, and there's also a new kind of group of people that have been having issues lately which are the fitness trainers.
AJ: Well, yeah. Because you're on deck and you're screaming because everything is already amplified.
Chris: Your voice has to match your enthusiasm is the best way to say it. And to constantly keep that up for half hour to an hour depending on the length of your class. Whether land setting or aquatic setting, it takes a toll on your voice and your body language.
AJ: Chris, I understand you did a vocal care video recently, speaking of fitness instructors, that streamed on Fitmotivation. So why don't you tell us a little bit about why you think instructor self-care is so important?
Chris: When I originally got into teaching in the pools, I had never been really accustomed to the acoustics and a pool area, and just what happens in there with your voice and how it gets lost. And, you know, the waters making noise, the hot tubs are making noise, people are talking over in the corner...There's so much happening, that if you are not vocally prepared strength wise to deal with that, however many times a week you have to do that, very quickly, you will notice that you are going to develop vocal issues. Your voice is going to tire out, you're going to lose your voice by the end of the day. And so when I started teaching, I was running into this issue, I knew immediately I had to do something about it.
So I myself also have a vocal coach. And I would speak to her, we worked through it. And I would say it took me a good two years to get to a point where I felt like I could, you know, teach the number of classes I was teaching and not feel like I was on the verge of injuring my voice. But it took constant work and practice and daily vocalizations, relaxation techniques, all these things that I do for my vocal students, it's the same, it's just voice work. The voice is a muscle, it should be treated the same as any other part of your body. But since it's internal people can't see it. And so they don't think of it that way. In doing these classes, I have learned much more about vocal technique ironically. So again, it's like a full circle thing. You know, I use the fitness stuff for my vocal stuff, for my acting stuff, for everything. And I feel like everything should be that way in life. But I guess I'm just lucky enough to have found that. So I thank my lovely wife for that opportunity.
Jenni Lynn: It's been my pleasure.
AJ: Nice. Scoring some points on a podcast.
Chris: Right? Yeah, I gotta get them when you can.
Jenni Lynn: So in addition to all these instructor self-care tips, what's an example that you do to take care of yourself on a daily basis?
Chris: Vocally, it is all about being in a relaxed state. So what I'll do in the mornings, before I have to go teach, I'll do these these little things called lip-brrs. Just, you know, burrow your lips together, babies do it all the time. But you do that up and down your vocal register. I'll just literally do those over and over. If you did those in a shower, for five minutes, by the time you got out, you will be warmed up, guaranteed 100%, much more than you would if you weren't doing anything. So that's an easy one for everyone out there. Outside of that, stretching every day, if it's not yoga, it is stretching on the floor with a belt. I have to do something with my hips as a teacher, and demonstrating my pelvis and hips are a mess all the time. And just trying to work out as much as I can when I have time and strengthening my glutes and my legs to you know, keep them strong and not feel like I'm getting old before I should.
AJ: That's a great one. Now are those some of the examples that we can find in the instructor self-care video that you did?
Chris: Yeah, that is one of the examples in the instructor self-care.
AJ: That's great. So for people who are interested, you can go to JenniLynnFitness.com/shop and find the video there. It's a among a few others that you've done. You've done Dude Moves and several other videos.
Chris: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. There's a few videos out there with my face on it.
AJ: Excellent. Well, as we're wrapping up here, I know that Jenni knows where to find you at all times, Chris, but for our listeners, where where can they reach you? And find out more about what you're doing? And if they're interested in vocal lessons or any of your other things that you teach, where can people find you?
Chris: Yeah, well, they can reach me at my email, LaCour7@gmail.com. If anyone's interested in vocal coaching, things like that. Yeah, that's the best way to reach me. I also have a website, my acting website, you can go search that out yourselves if you want.s
AJ: I will say it's a beautiful website.
Chris: It is actually a beautiful website. It was done by this amazing gentleman named AJ Meyers.
AJ: Was it was Made by Meyers?
Chris: It was Made by Meyers.
AJ: All right, well, if you want to see Chris and all of his glory as an actor and his reel, be sure to go to Chris-LaCour.com.
Chris: Or you want to put me in your movie or television show...That's where you want to go. And then on Instagram, I am LaCourNYC.
AJ: We'll make sure to link everything in our show notes and any of the topics that we've discussed. Of course, we'll we'll be sure to provide those as well. But thanks so much for joining us, Chris. This was a really great interview.
Chris: Hey, thanks for having me, you guys. It was a blast, Jenni.
Jenni Lynn: So happy to have you.
Chris: Yeah, it was great talking to you too. AJ, it's great talking to you. Jenni, I will see you in a minute.
AJ: All right, awesome.