Water Exercise Instructor of the Month

Swimandsweat Water Exercise Instructor of the MonthSwimandsweat Water Exercise Instructor of the Month


APRIL 2020
Who: Sharon Browning
Where: Irving, Texas
What: Water Arthritis Classes, and Water Aerobics

This month the swimandsweat team is excited to shine light not only on a student but also an instructor Sharon Browning.  In 2004 Sharon was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, after 2 long years of living with extreme pain Sharon decided to retire early. The rheumatoid arthritis had taken a toll on her ability to do the physical things she enjoyed like hiking, scuba diving and snow skiing.  Sharon wanted something to help her get her physical stamina back.  Her husband suggested that water exercise was worth trying and taking his advice she joined the Heritage Center.   She started assisting the Arthritis classes and was immediately hooked on the benefits of water exercise and her physical improvement, therefore decided to get her Arthritis Foundation Certification to begin her water exercise journey.  Sharon was inspired by the joy and enthusiasm that her first instructor Gwenneth demonstrated as she taught water exercise. It was important to have fun and push her class to challenge themselves and keep moving in the water. 


Originally from South Bend, Indiana instructor Sharon Browning has been teaching for the last 10 years focusing on bringing joy to her students while teaching classes that focus on arthritis as well water aerobics. Sharon currently teaches two classes, 3 times a week at the Heritage Aquatic Center in Irving, Texas at a facility that was designed specifically for the senior citizen community.   “I love that the facility is reserved for senior use most of the time”. -Sharon


Sharon has been able to return to hiking, scuba diving and snow skiing as a result of being active in the water.  She credits the water exercise with helping her cope with and generally alleviate the pain she was in.

Sharon’s students are inspired and enjoy attending all her classes.  “She is so knowledgeable about why we do each of the exercises in class and she pushes us to do better because she genuinely cares about seeing us improve physically and be able to continue living productive lives. We have ladies in our class in their mid-80’s and me being 66, I aspire to be as fit as they are should I live as long”. - Alice Endicott

Sharon believes it is important to have the proper footwear and swimwear in the pool.  She prefers an open toed sand or a hiking type of shoe.  She shops for a chlorine resistant swimsuit that provides full coverage that allows ease of movement in the water.


Thank you, Sharon, for all that you do to inspire and motivate our water exercise community!”

MARCH 2020
Who: Amy Parker
Where: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
What: Dual Depth, Have a Ball Class, Better Balance and Shallow Water Class

It’s difficult to measure the success of a water fitness instructor, but Amy Parker’s participants made it very easy for us to understand why she deserves to be Swimandsweat’s Instructor of the Month! “Enough words of praise would never be enough regarding the impact Amy has had in my personal life”. -Beverly Miedema. “What makes Amy different? I think it is that she treats each of us like a special person, not just a class member, acknowledging our strengths and needs and it makes us very sorry if we must miss”! - Barbara Cole. Amy experienced a difficult pregnancy with her second child and was advised to mandatory bed rest.  Once Amy gave birth to her baby boy in August of 2002, she knew she had to find a gentle way to get her body moving again.  Having a master's degree in Therapeutic Recreation, Amy knew that attending the local recreation pool was a great option to get started. Once a week for several weeks Amy started attending a shallow water aquatic fitness class geared towards the older population, eventually attending three times a week.  The instructor was friendly and supportive of Amy being a recuperating, young mother in her class.  After a few months, Amy realized how much she enjoyed water fitness and sought out advice on becoming a certified water exercise instructor. In October of 2002, Amy became WaterArt certified. Several years later, Amy also became AEA certified and began teaching a young Mother's class and Power Aquatics.


Presently Amy teaches a Dual Depth, Have a Ball, and Better Balance classes, at the Mt Pleasant Recreation Department in South Carolina.  Amy also teaches 2 shallow water classes at South Bay at Mount Pleasant in South Carolina.  She enjoys helping her participants with functional fitness, flexibility, balance and coordination.  Amy has begun practicing yoga realizing the many mental and physical benefits it offers. She excitedly began incorporating yoga into her water fitness classes as well.  She has found her students are feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally because of her investment in them and herself.


“Since the moment I met Amy this January I loved her energy and her confidence... her classes are full of energy, fun and commitment! I have tried other classes that are good but hers are great! My schedule as a nurse varies weekly so knowing that I can go to her classes makes me feel confident that I’m getting the best workout I can.  Amy is so easily approachable and caring. I spoke with her regarding my interest in becoming a certified water aerobics instructor and she has taken me under her wing.  I so look forward to water aerobics and especially Amy’s classes which are easy to follow because of her direction.  She is a role model for fitness as well which is inspiring to me. The only problem is that I wish there were classes all day ha-ha!! Her classes are large which is also a testament of how good she is! I hope I can be as good as Amy once I am actively teaching water aerobics... she is an inspiration ❤️”.  -Susan Kreitman. Before working at the Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department in South Carolina, Amy was employed with a local hospital which was a stressful working environment for her. She now has the privilege of working with less stress but takes pride in still having the ability to help others in a different format. “The AEA Professionals are my mentors.  They inspire me because they are truly invested in helping the instructors to become the best they can be, and they really care about their clients”. -Amy Parker.  


Thank you, Amy, for all that you do to inspire and motivate our water exercise community!”

Who: Debbie Kaczmarski
Where: Indio, California
What: Aqua Aerobics, Aqua Yoga and Aqua Pilates

We are excited to announce and welcome the newest Swimandsweat Instructor of the Month, Debbie Kaczmarski!  Our team was amazed with the nominations that Debbie received from her students wanting to express their appreciation for her.  “She is a motivator, care giver, encourager, and overall great friend to all of us!”- Kris Truax.  These are the characteristics that make up a great water fitness instructor.  

Debbie began her water fitness journey after a friend recommended post water therapy following an extensive knee surgery.  She quickly realized all the benefits that water rehabilitation had on her recovery. Debbie is originally from Buffalo, New York but discovered her love for the water in the beautiful Indio, California.  After receiving her certification from American Sports and Fitness Association in 2015, she began teaching Aqua Aerobics, Aqua Yoga and Aqua Pilates seven to eight times a week at Indian Palms Country Club and Parkwood Apartments in Indio, California. Debbie is known for her patient and welcoming personality and her special way of embracing new participants to make them feel comfortable in an unfamiliar exercise environment.  “Deb K. is the type of Instructor that caters to all body types and personalities. Believe me, there are A LOT of different personalities in our pool at Indian Palms.”- Josephine R 

“As a below knee amputee with severe valgus, my balance is greatly compromised. Uneasy with my disability, I would go to the pool when I thought few people would be around. Debbie spotted me and would chat. She began encouraging me to attend the aqua class. Although I demurred, Deb persisted and gently encouraged me to try the class, I did.  Ensuring that all in the class feels comfortable, she sets the tone. Welcoming and energetic, Deb ensures that the class takes on the same characteristics that she has. Although my unease came from my own insecurities, without Deb’s radiant positivity and encouragement, I don’t know if I would have had the strength to continue to fight to recover my life back! The aqua class changes lives, Deb changed mine.”- Mary S. 

As a certified water fitness instructor Debbie is well planned, prepared, trained, and has the enthusiasm it takes to make a class magically motivating.  Gaining specialist qualifications not only makes you a great water fitness instructor, it also helps you build crucial relationships within your water fitness community. Thank you Debbie for all that you do to serve our water exercise community!

Who: Lynn Yonally
Where: Steel Fitness Premier, Allentown PA
What: Water Jog and Core
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Swimandsweat is kicking off 2020 with Lynn Yonally as our instructor of the month! Lynn’s participants want to shine a light on their amazing instructor!

“Regarding Lynn I find her to be an exceptionally knowledgeable instructor who has water certification. She has over twenty years' experience and continues to keep her certification. Her classes are well structured, and she works to give each student individual attention making sure each exercise is done properly while strengthening core muscles and increasing aerobic fitness. Lynn even selects great music recommended to keep heart rates in a specified range. She is in the water with her students, a smile on her face, encouraging her students to be the best they can be.  While taking Lynn’s classes I have learned much about moving correctly, increasing muscle strength and cardiac conditioning while improving posture and flexibility. Her class is an enjoyable hour of exercise”. - Deborah

Lynn’s passion started as a young girl swimming on her high school team and continued to follow her passion joining her college synchronized club, competitive team.  Her love for the water continued into her summers lifeguarding at her local pool, and the teaching of sailing.  While teaching in the public-school system a friend approached Lynn about a position opening at their local gym for water fitness instructor and recommended that she apply.  That’s when Lynn decided to register for all the training and learned all the benefits of water fitness, then made her decision to take the national boards to receive her certification.  20 years later, Lynn is an instructor at Steel Fitness Premier teaching water jog and core, which includes a combination of running, walking, and core exercises.  She uses hand weights to do upper body exercises, while emphasizing the importance of correct positioning and postures. 

Lynn says, “Water exercise has been my “go to” exercise always”.  Nothing could keep Lynn from the water, she was swimming 20 laps the day both of her daughters were born.  “As a woman, we experience so many changes in our bodies, water seems to be the best medium for us as we change.  I also have the common problem of getting overheated during regular exercise, so water is perfect for staying cool and hydrated”. -Lynn.

“I truly believe that teaching and doing it that are part of who I am.  I advocate it everywhere I go.  Get your suit on, get in the pool and feel better.  As we age the hardest part is accepting our body, our water needs to be in the water where we feel better”. Lynn

Who: Rose Murphy
1. Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael CA
2. College of Marin, Kentfield CA
3. Indian Valley College, Novato CA
What: Water Stretch, Water Therapy, Aqua Exercise for Active Older Adults, Deep Aqua Exercise
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The Swimandsweat team is excited to recognize Rose Murphy from San Rafael, California!  Not only is Rose a remarkable woman, but also a dedicated instructor that brings joy and laughter to her water fitness community.  Her water fitness journey began 35 years ago while teaching pre- and post-natal exercises on land, shortly to be asked by the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center to teach water aerobics.  Rose loves the water, so she accepted without hesitation!   


There is no sign of Rose slowing down, “she looks and acts like a kid herself”, says Marcie L.  Rose teaches 14 classes a week in 3 different pools, including aqua stretch, aqua therapy, deep aqua exercise and aqua exercise for active older adults combining a fun playlist with singing and exercise.  She is also a yoga instructor and massage therapist.  As one of Rose’s relatively new class members Diane says, “I enjoy Rose’s class, and the exercises are wonderful.  What is even more important is her attitude, expertise and the joy that she brings.  I know that she has changed many lives over the years, and I know she has changed mine for the better”.  Rose loves to make sure anyone new to her class feels welcomed including her staff.  “Rose is like a sparkplug, she brings so much energy, kindness and knowledge.  I love coming to the class because she created a community here that I have never seen in public, in my life and I love to do it.  I guess I have learned how much fun it is to exercise with other people in a community”-Betty. Her knowledge and guidance in the aqua exercises is amazing!  


Rose was born in San Rafael, California and continues teaching there.  She found her passion in water fitness and making people happy.  She continues to improve her life through movement, pool parties and celebrations with her water fitness family. There are always people in our lives that can be inspirational in many ways, but Rose Murphy inspires her participants through singing, fun and joy.  “If anybody deserves this award is Rose, she has earned it!  It is a pleasure coming to this pool.  I look forward to it every week twice a week because she makes everyone happy.  It is a wonderful experience.  I can’t wait to sing”. -Robbie

Who: Ming Schrader
Where: Denton, Texas
What: Zumba and Aqua Zumba

Congratulations!  This month we celebrate Ming Schrader of Denton Texas.  Ming is being recognized by her students for all her fabulous work, winning them over with her contagious energy and enthusiasm for water fitness wellness.  As her student Linda P. says, “When you find an aquatic fitness instructor who teaches classes you want to plan your life around, the whole game changes”.  Ming’s professionalism is demonstrated in the way that she treats all individuals, encouraging them to work at their own pace while offering them alternate moves to fit their needs.  What makes Ming special is her upbeat energy that pushes her students to work harder in the water.  “She keeps us on our toes by always changing the routines”. Ming is not only an inspiration as an Aqua Zumba instructor, “she also brings happiness and laughter to all her classes”-Barbara. Ming ensures that her students have an enriching and satisfying experience, while enjoying an hour of fun.  Ming’s class includes about 35 students that have created a bond over water fitness wellness and enjoy their time together. Each year Ming hosts a lunch for her students to play trivia games regarding health, fitness, and Aqua Zumba.  Winners are rewarded with items that can be used or are related to water fitness, keeping them inspired to stay active.

Ming originally grew up in Taiwan, but currently resides in the beautiful Shady Shores, Texas.  She has been teaching Zumba for 9 years and currently teaches Aqua Zumba 3 times a week at the Robson Ranch, a 55 plus community in Denton Texas.  Ming’s Zumba license lead her to become AEA certified and certified in Aqua Zumba. The instructor’s love for water fitness has improved her life and others in gaining endurance and flexibility.  Thank you to Ming Schrader for always going above and beyond, serving the aquatic fitness community! 

Who: Judy Joy B.
Where: Chico, California
What: Aqua Revolution and Water Aerobics

This month we celebrate Judy Joy Birtcil of Chico, California. For the past 34 years, Judy has been developing her craft as a beloved water exercise instructor for her students, so many of whom went out of their way to nominate her to Swimandsweat! At 78 years young, Judy tirelessly leads every move during her classes. She teaches 2 Water Aerobics classes every week at In Motion Fitness,  which are suitable for seniors and younger participants alike that are looking to improve their health and physical endurance. Great music is a key ingredient in the popularity of Judy’s classes—she is famous for pairing each move to classics from the 50’s through the 80’s, but always open to new suggestions to keep the class happy! Judy is able to help her students “relieve stress and encourage laughter and singing with the music. She is also innovative in her instruction by playing games with the equipment such as London Bridges with pool noodles, and balance exercises using rubber duckies! Students work hard in [Judy’s] classes and have fun. I believe that Judy Joy Birtcil exemplifies why water aerobics is important and how it should be taught!”, said Yvonne Freeman, one of Judy’s adoring participants.


Originally from San Joaquin Valley, Judy began her water fitness journey when the owner of her small gym asked her to teach and she never looked back. She has been AEA certified since 1993, ensuring that her workouts are not only fun and motivating, but safe and effective for her trusting students.  Judy loves the fact that exercising in water “improves joint and muscle strength [while] improving heart health and lung capacity. [My] students have more flexibility and strength which improves their quality of life”. Thank you Judy, for all that you do to serve our Aquatic Fitness community!

Who: Dominic Gili
Where: Sydney, Australia
What: Aqua Shallow Boot Camp, Plyo Power, and Pool Party Choreography, Aqua Seniors, Aqua Deep, Aqua Gymstick, and Frisbee Fitness H2O
Water Exercise Testimonial: Instructor Dominic Gili

Dominic Gili is based in Sydney Australia and has been teaching Aqua Fitness since 1993. Dom started in the water as a swim teacher before being asked to teach his mate’s aquatic fitness class one day. He fell in love with water workouts and has not looked back. He is now a beloved instructor, trainer, and international presenter within the Aquatic Fitness industry. He is the founder of - a website that offers online videos, trainings and resources for lovers of Aqua Fitness. In 2020 he will be presenting at the first ever AIAFC, the Australian International Aquatic Fitness Conference in February in Adelaide.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of taking one of Dom’s coveted classes, you must head over to his Facebook page and YouTube channel to check out his incredible videos. A picture is worth 1000 words, but a video is priceless. Dom is famous for providing instructional videos paired with upbeat music to help his participants and other instructors see exactly what they should be doing above and below the surface. His participants can’t get enough of his infectious energy and innovative classes that keep them coming back every week. “[Dominic] is just an amazing instructor. He’s so confident, authoritative, fun, and he explains everything along the way. Since I’ve been going to classes my core strength has improved which is really important for osteoporosis and I’ve met so many nice people.” – Lynn. As Dom puts it, he is completely dedicated to the cause and passionate about working out in the water himself. He takes every opportunity to selflessly help and encourage others and is adored by his participants and peers. Congratulations Dom, thank you for all that you do to serve our Aquatic Fitness community!”

JULY 2019
Who: Tessy & Pedro Ayala
Where: Emmaus & Allentown, PA
What: Aqua Zumba & Zumba
Water Exercise Testimonial: Instructor Donna Boucher

When connecting with her beloved followers, Tessy always starts her live social media chats with, “Hello Beautiful Creations of God”! Tessy and Pedro Ayala are both spiritual, motivating, and bring a unique burst of life to every Zumba and Aqua Zumba class they teach. According to Yvonne, “Tessy’s beautiful smile and energy is contagious and she is a rump shaker”! Tessy and Pedro have been married for 29 years and they are quite the dynamic duo which inspires men and women alike to join in the fun!  One class that is near and dear to their hearts is taught at the Emmaus, PA Community Pool, where the entrance fee is only $1 per person to encourage participation, which often fills the pool to capacity with 150 people at a time! All proceeds from this weekly summer class are donated to the lifeguards for keeping the pool safe. It is the Ayala’s mission to inspire as many people as possible to jump into the pool and experience the incredible benefits that water exercise has to offer. They consistently recommend that participants are prepared for class by bringing water to stay hydrated and to wear water shoes to help with comfort, movement and added resistance in the water.

Tessy and Pedro especially enjoy instructing Aqua Zumba together because they know it can be a great for anyone, regardless of their fitness level or age. It doesn’t matter if Tessy is having a rough day because the moment she sees all the smiling faces in the pool, her heart is happy and fulfilled.  When she is instructing, she makes sure that her full attention goes to her participants because she wants them to know how much she appreciates and is motivated by them. In her opinion, the call of an instructor is to provide a service to your community. Her commitment is to make sure she does everything in her power to make the community happier and healthier. Tessy fondly commented that her “participants aren’t just [my students], they are also my friends, family, supporters. We make sure that they feel welcomed and loved. We listen, talk and share our daily life journey. For one hour we make them dance and forget about everything else. People that know me know that every time they need me, if I have the time available my response will always be yes.  They mean the world to me. They have no idea of how much they complete my life”. The unwavering support of Tessy and Pedro’s participants has truly helped grow their loyal following and overall awareness for water exercise.

When they are not teaching, the Ayala’s continue to give back to the community by hosting charity dancing events to help raise money for community members. As one participant Natalia put it, “[They are] very thorough when working out in the pool…Tessy loves teaching and doesn't care about money like with the Emmaus Community Program. They don't pay her but still she teaches simply because she cares about other people. She doesn't see her participants as students, they are stars and family”. Tessy believes that kindness, love, respect and understanding is what makes a good person. Thank you Tessy, for all that you do to serve our Aquatic Fitness community!

JUNE 2019
Who: Donna Boucher
Where: Oberlin & Amherst, OH
What: Shallow AquaFIT, Deep AquaFIT, Aqua Bootcamp, and more!
Water Exercise Testimonial: Instructor Donna Boucher

This month we celebrate Donna B. of Amherst, OH. The swimandsweat team was overwhelmed by the immense adoration and gratitude Donna’s many students conveyed in their letters and pictures sent to nominate their beloved instructor! As Raynelle B. wrote to us, “two years ago, my neighbor asked me to come to a water aerobics class with her. Of course, I said no. I had lost a few pounds on WW so I finally said yes. I was hooked after the first class!!! Donna's classes are so awesome!!! She's a very caring, compassionate, funny person. She makes the class fun while working our booties off!! She gives tips on diet and words of encouragement also. My ortho told me that after my bicep surgery I wouldn’t be able to do certain things but because of Donna's class, I can!! I feel better than ever because of her classes. I nominated her because I believe in her and her enthusiasm for water fitness!!”.

Donna’s journey of becoming an aquatic fitness instructor began similarly to many other instructors we’ve heard from—she was originally a land instructor back in January 2015 but there was a sudden need for an aquatic instructor at her gym. Flash forward to present day, Donna teaches multiple classes a week at 3 different facilities! Out of her newfound passion and appreciation for the wonder that is aquatic fitness, and a determined sense of duty to provide the best possible classes for her students, Donna tirelessly digested as much training and guidance as she could find. It wasn’t until she completed Mark Grevelding’s Fit Motivation program that Donna marks a pivotal time in her aquatic fitness career when talk of her innovative and fun classes really began to spread. People began to realize that water exercise is NOT just for the elderly or injured. As Donna says, “as more and more people see and learn how cross training in the water can be so beneficial, I have been able to work with student athletes, marathon runners, and provide aqua boot camp classes challenging even some swim coaches and lifeguards. Just like land classes, there are so many types of water workouts that can be done to meet all fitness levels.” While Donna is able to work with a wide range of ages and abilities in her students, she is also “humbled by extreme joy as people share stories of keeping their diabetes and Parkinson's under control, how class has helped with dealing with cancer on multiple levels, how it has improved strength, endurance, and weight loss. It is a mood booster and we have so much FUN, they sleep better, and it helps with arthritis pain and swelling. I have many members whose spirits are refreshed because they still desire to do hard land classes, that the body will no longer allow. But in the water, due to reduced/zero impact, they can jump, hop, run and get a great workout without the fear of falling and beating up on their bodies. I have stories of improved range of motion after surgeries as well as heartwarming stories of people achieving goals after going through terrible accidents, and the list goes on and on. People are my passion and by using the tool of water, it is the most rewarding feeling in the entire world to HELP OTHERS in their journey.” Thank you Donna, for all that you do to serve our Aquatic Fitness community!

MAY 2019
Who: Sherri F.
Where: Reading, PA
What: Aquatic Fitness and Aqua Zumba
Water Exercise Testimonial: Instructor Sherri F.

This month we celebrate Sherri F. of Birdsboro Fitness & Splash in Birdsboro, PA. Sherri's students can't say enough about how much they adore her classes, spirit, and how she inspires others by sharing her personal wellness journey. About 6 years ago, Sherri began exercising in the pool with Aqua Zumba classes which helped her lose over 120lbs, in conjunction with a healthy diet! When the pool she attended needed a water exercise instructor, she was moved to become a licensed Aqua Zumba instructor and later an AEA certified aqua fitness professional. Sherri only wishes others would have helped her to better understand the amazing benefits of water exercise sooner; she has therefore made it her mission to educate and inspire others by sharing her passion for water fitness wherever she goes. As her student Stella B. says, "She brings energy and fun to a class that is so beneficial to my body and spirit. I don't look at like a workout class, even though it builds strength and flexibility. I view it as a time to dance and have fun! It's Sherri that brings that to the class! I never feel judged, she offers empathy and understanding of our abilities!" Sherri is especially motived by the fact that everyone from children to seniors can enjoy her classes because it is low impact, FUN, and inviting. Sherri is also known for reminding those who might be nervous about trying water exercise, "what happens under the water stays under the water"! So take a note from Sherri and try and jump right into one of the most supportive and motivating environments you can find. Thank you Sherri, for all that you do to serve our Water Exercise community!

APRIL 2019
Who: Natalia V.
Where: YMCA in Allentown, PA
What: Aqua Zumba, Zumba Toning and Traditional Zumba
Water Exercise Testimonial: Instructor Natalia Vazques

This month we celebrate Natalia of the Allentown YMCA. Nominated by her students, Natalia embodies the ever-giving, beloved water exercise instructor. Natalia teaches multiple classes every week including Aqua Zumba, Zumba toning, and traditional Zumba. Her students love her fun-loving, sassy presence that she attributes to her Puerto Rican roots. “Natalia is an inspirational instructor. [Her] Aqua Zumba class is fun and she makes sure you get good workout while dancing to great music!” – Patricia C. We salute you Natalia, you are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for all that you do to serve our Water Exercise community!

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