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Growing Aquatic Exercise Programs

Guest Blogger: Dom Gili

Considering the many benefits that water workouts offer – including challenging cardio and strength training with increased range of movement in a reduced impact environment – it’s no surprise that Aquatic Fitness classes continue to grow in popularity.

Beyond the physical benefits of aquatic exercise, the mental, social, and emotional benefits are also significant. There is a vulnerability about this unique breed of water warriors. The bond between them is strong, and for some it lasts a lifetime. After 30 years of teaching Aquatic Fitness, it is still a privilege to be central to that connection.

So why then is one of the most challenging, effective, and inclusive exercise programs available still the most underappreciated and under-resourced?

ANSWER – Because very few pool owners and group fitness managers have ever taught or participated in an Aquatic Fitness class or understand the value proposition a successful program offers. founder Dom Gili, sat down to chat with several Pool Managers that do understand the value of a thriving Aquatic Exercise Program and shares some tips to help grow Aquatic Exercise programs.

Diversify your Aquatic Fitness Program

Some of the most successful aquatic exercise programs are the ones that target specific members, to offer a more tailored workout experience. These sometimes reflect the level of intensity of the water workout, the target audience, the training outcomes of the class or even the use of specific equipment.

A club in the north-west of Sydney offers a diverse aqua class schedule with an incredible 46 regular aqua exercise classes throughout the week.

The quick guide on the weekly schedule explains the goals and benefits for class such as:

  • Aqua Power - fitness, fat burn, toning, core training

  • Aqua Fit - fat burn, toning, core training

  • Aqua Relax - toning, flexibility, mobility.

Jane-Maree Evans, the club’s Fitness Coordinator says, “Our class retention rates are now higher due to the introduction of specific class types and intensifies. It ensures that members get the water workout that best suits their needs. Prior to this schedule update we had people of different fitness levels attending the same class format and beginner 85yo participants were getting washed away by the white-water waves created by a fit 40yo keen to work hard in the pool.”

Invest in Your Biggest Asset: Instructors

A wise move for fitness clubs and aquatic centers is to make themselves a preferred employer. This can be achieved by offering safe work conditions, competitive pay rates, and ongoing education opportunities.

With the advent of online education, there are now more learning opportunities than ever before. Hosted by some of the world’s leading Aquatic Exercise experts these options include:

  • virtual conferences

  • live workshops and masterclasses

  • online subscription sites with workout video resources and printable class plans

  • online mentoring groups

As Senior Learning and Development Officer and Group Fitness Coordinator, Julie Manning understands the importance of ongoing education and instructor development.

“We recently conducted an in-house training day with our ten instructors, and not only was it a chance for all to review and share skills and knowledge, but it also gave us the opportunity to focus on team building. A new initiative for us is that we can now rely on online training opportunities via organizations like S’WET and to tailor educational resources to our training needs. Our experience over the years is that happy and valued instructors create enjoyable workout experiences for our members, and this leads to high staff retention and low training and staff acquisition costs.”

Invest in New Equipment Programs

In the last ten years the introduction of innovative programs and equipment for aquatic exercise classes has flooded the market. The list of new programs now available include:

  • Aqua Pole

  • Aqua Boxing

  • Aqua Step

  • Aqua Jump (mini tramps)

  • Aqua Spin

  • Aqua Resistance hand weights and barbells

Donna Wilmott, Aqua Instructor/Coordinator at Parafield Gardens Swim Centre in Adelaide, was one of the first centers in Australia to invest in Acquapole equipment. Donna states “our goal has always been to change the perception most people have of Aquatic Fitness classes. Having Acquapole equipment programs such as Boxing, Circuit Fusion, Step and Jump in our facility has brought an entirely new audience to our aqua classes. And although the equipment are large ticket items, it only takes six months to get a return on our investment. It has been a complete game-changer for us.”

Identify New Talent within Your Team

A shortage of qualified instructors is causing some pool owners and group fitness managers to develop innovative ways to recruit instructors. Some have had success identifying people within their organization with the suitable skills and passion who they can train as aquatic exercise instructors, including:

- land-based group exercise instructors

- swim teachers

- identifying certain club members

About the Author:

Dominic Gili is an Aquatic Fitness Specialist from Sydney Australia with a reputation for innovative, engaging, and challenging water workouts. Dom is founder of - a website that offers a variety workout videos and training methods to keep instructors and clients moving and inspired.

Find Dom on Social Media:

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