Water Exercise Instructor of the Month

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

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MAY 2023

Angel currently resides in Alton, Iowa. She teaches aquatic fitness classes at the All Seasons Center - Siouxnami Water Park. She has been an instructor for 8 years and teaches a variety of classes, such as S’WET, Aqua Zumba, Aqua Strength/HydroRevolution classes, Super Circuits and deep water classes. That’s quite the resume of variety! SwimandSweat chose Angel as our Instructor of the Month not only for her passion, but for her drive and care about teaching aquatics the right way - with correct posture to ensure safety in the water while receiving a total body workout.

When asking Angel what she loves about aqua fitness, she had much to say.

“I love that aquatics is for everyone & you can get the same workout on the land as in the water, all with the benefits of the water. I love that I can bring all of the formats I have learned into one class (S'WET) or teach them all separately. From being choreographed like Aqua Zumba to very structured formats such as Tabata & HIIT.” We also asked Jenni Lynn, founder of S’WET, what she loves about Angel and why others should try out her classes.

“I've had the pleasure of witnessing Angel Bengard's expertise and passion for aquatic fitness over the last few years through in person training, conferences and social media. Her positive energy and dedication to helping others achieve their health and fitness goals are truly inspiring! Now as a S'WET™ Trainer, and soon to be S'WET™ Master Trainer, her knowledge and skill have only amplified as she continues to share her expertise with a wider and more eager audience! I highly recommend Angel to anyone looking to improve their aquatic fitness training and experience unparalleled results.”

Even though instructors like Angel love what they get to do and provide through teaching, it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies in the water world. Instructors constantly face the stigma of water exercise only being good for specific demographics. “Challenges that I face are that "water aerobics" is only for the injured or elderly. That it is nana with a noodle & that noodle is out of the water doing nothing & leading other fitness professionals to not take us seriously. They should know that we have likely taught on the land as well as the water. I have taught many land formats as well as many water formats, as well as this being my 2nd career.”

So what can you expect from an aquatic class lead by Angel? “A full body workout from your head to your toes & to feel absolutely amazing afterwards. It will likely be different every time you attend class. If you like to be challenged my class is for you.”

Not only did Angel weigh in on this, but several of her class members had nothing but amazing things to say about Angel and her class offerings.

“Angel's S'WET class is the best for me. The only workout I love & will consistently do. You can take it as hard or as easy as you need & can create better mobility because you are in the water. It's easier on your joints as well which is one of the biggest things for me. I love the way my body feels after a workout & I sleep better too, but I don't wake up super sore & achy. The workouts are always caried & have fun music as well. I am so thankful that Angel has aquatic classes like S'WET available here.” - Amy

“I have been participating in various classes Angel instructed over the years, now being 70 I appreciate the variety of workouts she provides from Tabata, low impact, Aqua Zumba & S'WET. She focuses on all parts of the body from the warmup, cardio & strength to the cool down. She also provides a variety of equipment for our use, increasing intensity. Angel is very encouraging in her teaching & leading. I thoroughly enjoy my workouts & new friends I have made in class.” - Barb

SwimandSweat always likes to ask our featured instructors what advice they would like to offer to new and incoming aquatic instructors who are in need of guidance as to how and where to start. Angel gave us some great advice to share:

“Become a professional, take the AEA exam, you will feel better about your skills. Learn, watch & be open minded to other aquatic professionals. Ask for advice, ask where to start. Please do not just think that a land workout will work the same way in the water, because it will not & your participants will not come back.

Take this seriously. Although unlikely, people can get injured in the water. Take the time to learn this craft & get in the water & test it out first.”

Thank you, Angel, for being an outstanding example of leadership to the aquatic fitness community!

Facebook: Aquatics & Zumba with Angel Bengard

Instagram: @strongerinthewater_angelb

MARCH 2023

L’Erin Allen has only been an instructor for 7 months now, but her passion and enthusiasm for all things water is what lead fellow instructor Sharlie Peterson to nominate her as SwimandSweat’s March Instructor of the Month!

L’Erin has been a participant in aquatic fitness classes for several years, her main job being an educator for 6th/8th grade school levels. She approached Sharlie shortly after summer 2022 with inspirations of being an aquatic instructor.

“I have always loved L’Erin’s energy and intensity when taking our classes. I’m so happy she brings that to every class that she now teaches just as much as when she was just a participant.” - Sharlie

So what makes teaching aqua fitness so rewarding for L’Erin? Just ask her! “I love teaching a class where I constantly get to see class members push themselves past their limits and start to learn what they are truly capable of in the water. Each class we see people strive to make improvements and work harder to see what they can continue to accomplish.”

Throughout the past several months, L’Erin has been able to set herself apart as a Shockwave Instructor, with many looking forward to her classes because they know they’re going to receive a tremendously fun and invigorating workout!

One great thing about L’Erin is how transparent she is with class members about her own fitness journey, which includes ups AND downs. “I strive to inspire others to get in the pool but first and foremost always being transparent about my own experiences. I share the benefits and challenges and lead by example for the great workout that you can get when in the pool. As an instructor, I work hard to create an environment where people are pushed to their limits but also feel safe and comfortable to be able to do so. I share the fun and the hard work that goes into these classes!”

From everyone at SwimandSweat, thank you, L’Erin, for being one of our All Stars in Aquatic Fitness!


What: S’WET

September currently holds her S’WET classes at VASA Fitness in Chandler, AZ and has been teaching since 2011. She is certified in AEA, AFP, Zumba, CPR/AED, and has a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology/Dance. Aquatic Fitness is important to her because she is looking to change the perception of Aquatic Fitness by creating an inclusive environment for all ages, genders and abilities to make waves together and have fun! “I want to show those who are unable to workout on land that they can still workout and reach their goals.”

If September could give a new instructor advice on how to get started, it would be that the jitters go away after you teach that first class. “Remember to have fun and smile! Always stay educated and up to date on your craft and new trends. Be sure to protect your voice and body - set yourself up for success and always be prepared!” She also adds that showing up early and being mentally present/engaged are keys to getting class members to feel connected and wanting to come back for more.

Recently, September purchased a pair of our Aquaciser Water Cruiser shoes in the new Lollipop red and had great things to say about them! “I am totally in love! They are super lightweight and so comfortable I forget I have them on. I feel safe when wearing them while teaching from the deck and also feel comfortable jumping in the pool if I need to.”

If you’re not in Arizona, you can connect with September on one of her social media accounts to see what she’s up to: 

Instagram: Sweat_With_Shay

Youtube: SheaReviewsItAll

Thank you, September, for making big waves in the Aquatic Fitness industry!

Check out what some of her class members had to say:

“I was very pleased with taking the S’WET class with September because I was able to hit my max heart rate. She was very helpful and kind. Also, she always has a smile that makes you go at the routine harder knowing that you can trust her expertise. September is great and has helped me get better after my hernia surgery because of the format of the class.”

“September’s class is different from other Aqua classes. I love the workout and how she breaks it down.”

“September’s class is great! I even got my wife to start coming so we can workout together!”

What: Shallow Boot Camp, H2o Circuits, Aqua Zumba, Balance & Mobility, HIIT H2o

Michelle Walker is an instructor of many talents and hats when it comes to fitness formats! Her classes range from Aqua Zumba to land Zumba, from Aqua Boot Camp to Balance & Mobility. During the school calendar year, she teaches at the Kootenai River Inn while in the Summer you can find her at Northside School B & B along with the Bonners Ferry City Pool. Talk about options!  

So what made Michelle interested not only in Aqua fitness, but fitness in general? “I got my start into fitness when I was 45 and going through a dark chapter in my life. Overweight, out of shape, and going through a divorce I decided to become an instructor with my oldest daughter because we loved Zumba fitness. Class participants started asking questions I couldn’t answer so I went back to college to earn my degree in Physical Education, got my personal trainer certification. I started teaching Aqua Zumba at the age of 46. I earned my AEA certification and a few years later became a Health and Fitness Coordinator of the facility where I worked.”  

When asked why she thinks water exercise is important, Michelle said that it is miraculous for healing, empowering and improving fitness levels across the board. “I’ve seen it and experienced it for myself as well as clients and students I’ve been inspired by.” 

Thank you, Michelle, for being an Aqua Fitness Superstar and inspiration to many!  

Check out what some of her class members had to say:  

“What I love about Michelle Walker’s aquatic programs is that she truly cares about each individual in every class. Michelle is extremely knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition.  She always gives us incentive and Healthy Hints for an active and Healthy Lifestyle.” - Leslie H. 

“Michelle Walker/Walker Wellness has been a huge ingredient to my improved health. Her directed classes are fun and the time passes so quickly it is a surprise when the class ends.  Constant movement exercises each set of muscles, large and small. The movement is not only pain reduction, the pain stays away for hours, sometimes more than a day after each session. My balance is better, my psoriatic arthritis more manageable. My rheumatologist told me water exercise is the best; the only exercise that improves circulation without the agitation of joint damage that happens in walking I can walk up stairs now without pain in my knee (soon to be replaced) for the first time in years. My stamina for everyday activities is better than it has been in years  My quality of life has improved since having met Michelle and I am grateful to her for this gift of better health. She is friendly, always observing and provides each of us the modifications to movements when we are healing from an injury for our best outcome. Her classes are fun and every student in the class is smiling and happy as we move to music. I cannot thank her enough.” - Sharon H. 

“Michelle Walker’s aquatic classes are superb. I have numerous medical issues and she has modified the moves to my needs that have enabled me to have more flexibility and strength. Her classes challenge you to be the best you are… you choose your intensity of the work out. She makes the class fun and a great overall work out.” - Sandy P. 

What: Zumba, Zumba Gold, Zumba Step, Silver Sneakers Licensed Instructor

Heather was introduced to the water at an early age, starting with swim lessons with an incredibly gifted swimmer and instructor, Betty Lontz. This moved her in to swimming competitively during summers at a local pool in middle school, and she continued in to high school and began swimming for fitness. “A not so funny story about me is that I fell from a high dive at the age of 10 and landed flat on the concrete. I sustained a bad chin injury, concussion and a broken left arm. I remember very little of the incident, only calling out to the lifeguards who were also swim team members to help me. It was a challenge to go back to the pool and get back up on the board, but I did it, not too long after the accident with my arm in a cast! Even that didn’t take away my love for the water.”

In college, running was Heather’s primary form of exercise until she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2009. “After a few years of trying to figure out how to move my body but not contribute to my pain, I found Zumba. I was a part of flag corps, captain of our dance drill team, and took ballet lessons in high school so I had a love for dance!” In 2016, Heather obtained her Aqua Zumba License and has been teaching it ever since. “Aqua Zumba took my love for dance and my love for aquatics and brought them together.”

While living in Hawaii, only increased her love for aquatic fitness, with the ability to teach year round on a pool deck surrounded by gorgeous views and weather will always be one of Heather’s favorite memories of her time spent in Hawaii. While in Hawaii, she saw the need to build on what she was able to offer in terms of aquatic classes and began to branch out, teaching Aqua Tabata and Deep Water classes. This was all with the help of Fitmotivation and a license in WATER in MOTION that was achieved during the pandemic, which quickly became one of Heather’s favorite formats to teach.

So what’s the next step for Heather? “My plans for the future are to continue to grow and challenge myself as an instructor! Trainings, conferences, continuing education and ZIN JAM sessions and bringing that education back to my students. I love seeing students grow stronger in their aquatic abilities. The pool deck gives you a great perspective on how your class is performing and I love to watch them attack new challenges. I have a personal goal to spend more time in the water for my personal fitness. I love Aqualogix equipment, what an incredible workout!”

Thank you, Heather, for being an Aqua Fitness Superstar! Check out a few testimonies from Heather’s class members below:

“I take Heather 's water aerobics classes at 8:00 am every weekday. She is a great instructor.  Her classes are fun and a great workout! Her energy gets me moving and keeps me involved. You will not get bored in her class! Heather was a great choice for your Instructor of the Month.” - Katey OBrien

“I've been taking Heather's aqua classes at the Victory YMCA for about 6 weeks. I feel great and have slept like a baby from the workout. She is phenomenal and has gained a huge following Monday thru Friday at 8am. Her class is scalable to any fitness level, structured, provides a great workout and is lots of fun! Her big smiles and energy are contagious. Cheers to Heather!” - Tracey Eppes

Where: Tring, Hertfordshire, UK
What: Aquatic Boot Camps, HIIT, X-FIT, Aqua Natal, and Aqua Therapy

Haylley qualified as an aqua instructor in 2000, marking over 20 years of teaching aquatic fitness classes! She was and always will remain passionate about bringing the younger generations to the pool to workout with her energetic, enthusiastic style.

“I discovered Haylley through videos on YouTube a few years ago when I was just starting to teach aqua fitness. She had so many fun moves that I was able to incorporate into my class routines. I’ve been a fan ever since and love that I have had the honor of chatting back and forth with her!” - Sharlie Peterson, Shockwave Aqua Fitness Instructor.

In 2007, Haylley began lecturing aquatic fitness and found her focus on female wellness, pelvic care, and pre/post natal after meeting and treating hundreds of women. “There is so much we can offer this population and this specific area of wellness. A high percentage of our attendees are women and the statistics is that 1 in 3 have some sort of pelvic dysfunction, the water provides support on the pelvic floor when exercising and so we can help our attendees.”

Throughout the years of teaching and tutoring, Haylley’s passion for aqua has continued to grow. She has a love for fitness and therapy (mind and body) that can be offered in the water and allows participants to do far more than they could if performing these exercises on land. “I have several therapy-based classes, including a specific stroke survivors' class. In that class I combine therapy, fitness and some swimming as they wish to be able to go swimming when on holidays.”

One of Haylley’s biggest accomplishments is that of opening her own gym! “When I started my aquatic journey I was coming from being a swimmer, then swimming teacher, lifeguard, receptionist up to being operations manager. However, I always remained teaching a class or 2 a week and one day realized I no longer wanted to be a manager but wanted to run my own business, so I opened my own gym.”

“This is incredibly inspiring to me and to so many others who see aqua fitness beyond just a side gig and want to make it a full-time reality. Haylley has been one of my personal inspirations in accomplishing so much and pushed me to start my own aqua fitness business as well. She doesn’t know that about me yet, so I’m excited to surprise her with this tidbit!” - Sharlie Peterson

Lastly, another cool fact about Haylley is that she gets to share this aqua journey with her mom. When Haylley was a swimmer, her mom was the coach and is now one of the top Aquatic Rehabilitation therapist in the UK, and, in Haylley’s opinion, the world. She often refers to herself and her mom as the #DynamicDuo!

Thank you, Haylley, for your amazing hard work and contributions in the world of Aqua Fitness!

Here’s where you can find Haylley!

  • The Grove - Shallow & Kids Aquatics
  • Watford Woodside Leisure Centre - Shallow, Deep & Therapy
  • Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre - Aqua Natal & Shallow
  • South Oxhey Leisure Centre - Aqua Therapy & Swimming After Stroke
  • Tring Sports Centre - Aqua HIIT
  • Holiday Inn, Hemel - Therapy

Where: Adelaide, Australia
What: Group Fitness Leader, Personal Trainer, and Aqua Fitness Presenter
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Lianne Tiemens is a Group Fitness Leader, Personal Trainer, and Aqua Fitness Presenter based in Adelaide, Australia. But she wasn’t always this enthusiastic about Aqua Aerobics. 
In order to revamp her fitness career, she had to re-do most of her Dutch Fitness Qualifications and decided to add Aqua Aerobics to her teaching repertoire, never having done a single Aqua Aerobics class. Actually, after she took her first class and left the pool, she was disappointed because it was the most BORING workout she had ever done. However, soon after she met Kerri Parkinson and Dominic Gili, who ran an Aqua Instructor course and showed Lianne what Aqua could be like, she was sold!  

“In 2018 I joined some Australian Aqua Rebels who rallied together in an attempt to get Aqua back on at FILEX,” says Lianne. “The biggest fitness convention in Australasia had made the executive decision to strip Aqua from their programming, stating Aqua is not fitness (I mean seriously, what do you mean Aqua is not Fitness!? #aquaisfitness). From that moment on we referred to Aqua Aerobics as Aqua Fitness and we managed to get Aqua Fitness back on the FILEX program the following year. It was an extremely proud moment when I was asked to present at this conference.” 

Aqua Fitness Trainer, Adel Way, recalls her experience with Lianne, “I had the pleasure of meeting Lianne in person at Filex in Sydney 2019 and had been following her socials for several years. If I had to describe her sessions in the water the first word that comes to mind is “explosive”. Lianne has a wealth of knowledge in the fitness industry both on land and in the water. She is such a passionate instructor and loves sharing her knowledge with others.”  

After a few years of teaching Aqua Fitness, Lianne realized she could liquify her land-based HIIT classes for the pool – and members were loving it! In addition, she began posting short water HIIT workouts on her social media pages and quickly became overwhelmed at how much interest these videos sparked. She now specializes in land AND water-based group HIIT workouts. She loves developing workshops and master classes, as well as creating weekly workouts for her social media accounts. One of those weekly workouts is known as H2Ignite, an initiative of 5 Aqua Fitness Professionals from Australia and the US brought together by Lianne to showcase their individual instructor talents in the realm of aqua fitness.  

"Lianne has been an instrumental trailblazer in Australian Aqua Fitness specializing in bringing different HIIT workouts to the water,” says Donna Wilmott, Aqua Fitness trainer/H2Ignite Instructor. “When Lianne moved to Adelaide, I just knew she would fit in perfectly with our team at Parafield Gardens Swim School! It has been an absolute privilege to work with Lianne. She is a professional, motivated, passionate, organized, dedicated, and fun instructor who is always striving to be awesome. Lianne is one of the best instructors and Aqua Presenters I have worked with who I am lucky enough to call a friend.” 

What does Lianne love about Aqua Fitness? “I love Aqua Fitness, because Aqua Fitness is so much more than just exercising in a group. It’s about the people and the energy this group of people can generate; the fuel for the workout. Each member of this group, everybody and every body, has their own story. The water levels everything allowing us to embrace our similarities, working together sharing our energy and passion regardless of fitness levels or age. We all bring something unique to the group that we, on a whole, can benefit from. Allowing all participants, a little escape from reality, a moment to clear their heads and feel better.”  

Lastly, Lianne wants you to know that there is no reason to be shy to attend your first Aqua Fitness class! She says, “There are many everyday superheroes in the classes you attend. Next time you are in a class, turn to the person next to you and say “hi”, if you haven’t already done so. You don’t have to become BFF’s – but what if you will? You have a partner in crime. A few actually. Someone who asks how you are doing or why you weren’t there last week and sometimes that’s all you need to keep going.” 

Thank you, Lianne, for being an Aqua Fitness trailblazer that SwimandSweat is proud to have as our November Instructor of the Month!


Where: Kohler, Wisconsin
What: Shallow and Deep Water Classes

Like so many water exercise instructors, Susie got her start by being asked to become a substitute for a well established class.  Back then, actual aerobics and isolated muscle work were fairly unknown to the classes she began to instruct and introducing even a noodle gave a “wow” factor. From there, her classes began to grow, and members became enthusiastic to show up and take a class from Susie.

“She inspires and engages every participant that attends her class. She always comes with a smile on her face with excitement to lead. She has a caring heart for everyone which encourages us to keep coming!” -Sonja Heinz

Susie enjoys having people from several different walks of life attend her classes and discover the power that water exercise has to offer everybody.  “What I love most about water aerobics is being able to meet so many people with different reasons for being in the pool.  It may have started with a medical condition or just wanting to get some low impact exercise. For some it is a social thing."

You can catch Susie teaching at the Kohler Village Community Pool in Kohler, WI three days a week where she teaches both Shallow and Deep water classes. Thank you, Susie, for making waves in the water exercise industry! SwimandSweat is proud to have you as our October instructor of the month!

What: Fitmotivation, Poolfit Water Exercise, AEA Training Specialist
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Well known to many from his years with AEA and his Youtube presence, Mark Grevelding is the founder of and the Poolfit Water Exercise App.  He has been involved in the fitness industry for over 26 years.  However, fitness was the furthest thing from his mind in college and throughout his 20’s.  Graduating from college with a degree in broadcast journalism, he confesses to living life as a party boy, preferring bartending jobs to anything that a journalism degree had to offer.  “By my early 30’s I was basically drawing careers out of a hat to see if anything would stick.”  He decided to become a personal trainer, because in addition to partying, he enjoyed working out in the gym.  In 1995 he recalls walking into a fitness facility in Rochester, NY and asking the owner if he could be a personal trainer in her gym. The owner asked him if he could teach step aerobics.  He replied “no, but I can try.”  And that was the rather inauspicious start to Mark’s fitness career. 

Racking up hundreds of dollars in credit card debt, Mark attended every group fitness workshop within a radius of 200 miles, rapidly developing skills teaching step, kickboxing, hi-lo, stability ball and more.  In 2000, the aquatic director at the JCC in Rochester asked him if he would teach a kickboxing class in the pool.  He replied, “well, I haven’t been in the pool since the 4th grade picnic but I can give it a try.” The director assured Mark he could teach from deck.  This proved to be a game changer, completely changing Mark’s career trajectory.

Thankfully, the journalism degree eventually paid off.  Dabbling in free-lance writing, Mark wrote an article about his debut teaching aqua kickboxing and this article introduced him to the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA).  By 2003, Mark became a continuing education provider for AEA, ACE and AFAA, teaching CEC workshops in New York State.  In 2005, he became an AEA Training Specialist, spending the next decade certifying and educating instructors in the USA and internationally.   During this time, produced over 20 aquatic fitness DVDs. 

Weary from travel and facing new trends in technology, including the eventual demise of DVDs, Mark formed a team and launched the Fitmotivation subscription video site seven years ago.  “I was sick of traveling and I wanted to create a way for instructors to come to me for choreography and class ideas, rather than me going to them.”  With a roll of the dice, Fitmotivation was launched in November 2014 with six videos and the promise of up to three new videos posting each month.  The gamble paid off.  There are now over 260 videos led by over 40 international aquatic fitness experts, with hundreds of subscribers in over 40 countries. 

Intended for fitness professionals, Fitmotivation started capturing the attention of fitness consumers because of the video trailers on Youtube.   Blending professional and consumer subscribers on one site proved unwise and therefore Poolfit was launched for the consumer market in 2019.  However, it soon became apparent that a streaming video site was not going to work for exercising in backyard pools.  In 2020, the Poolfit Water Exercise App was launched in the App Store (IOS) and the Play Store (Android).  The app has a worldwide reach with over 100 pool workouts that can be downloaded on a device, eliminating the need for streaming and wi-fi. 

Mark still subs water and land fitness classes in Sarasota, but he says he has become too busy as a video producer to take on standing classes in local facilities.   However, his teaching days are far from done.  People from all over the world can exercise with Mark and other aqua experts thanks to the Poolfit Water Exercise App. 

JULY 2021
Where: Topeka, Kansas
What: Aqua HIIT, H2o GO, Aqua Boot Camp and Aqua Jump
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Angel Miller may be fairly new to the water exercise instructor scene, but that doesn’t stop her passion and enthusiasm for the water from shining through. 

Angel began attending aqua fitness classes three years ago in Topeka, Kansas. She fell in love with the water because of the power it gave her body and took her workouts to a whole new level. This year, she made the choice to become a certified aqua fitness Instructor in order to reach more people with water exercise and show them why it is such an effective workout. 

“My favorite thing about teaching is seeing class from a completely different perspective. When you’re teaching, it’s no longer about you. You’re able to look at the amazing people taking the  class and you want to help them be the best version of themselves, reach their goals, and do things they didn’t think they could. It’s a mind shift from being self focused to people focused and I love it! It makes me appreciate the water that much more!” 

Even though Angel has only been teaching for a few months, her class members instantly fell in love with her enthusiasm and encouragement. The main class she instructs is Aqua Jump, which is underwater trampoline fitness. One of her class members, Mary Komarek, shares why she enjoys class with Angel so much: 

“How do you keep motivated to attend classes and push yourself? Well, that’s where my instructor Angel comes in!  Don’t let that smiling face fool you, she is all about making sure you get the most out of each movement.  Her enthusiasm pushes me to do my best.  You can tell she believes in not only aqua jump but aqua fitness. Thanks Angel for the encouragement to jump higher and let the water catch me if I fall!”

Angel currently holds a certification in Aqua HIIT, H2o GO, Aqua Boot Camp and Aqua Jump. She works hard on creating class plans to make sure she is always challenging class members with new material that will challenge them both mentally and physically.  In the last few months, her efforts have definitely paid off with a tremendous increase in class sizes, but also in groans from class members. Don’t worry - groaning is a sign of working hard that they thank her for later!

“Angel pushes us to be the best version of ourselves the minute we enter the pool. She works us hard and continues to motivate us to do our best throughout the entire class duration and push through even when we think can’t. It’s very rewarding to have a teacher that cares about us as much as she does!”  -Jenny 

For someone coming to one of Angel’s classes for the first time, she hopes that it will leave a lasting impact on not only your day, but your life! “I feel like water fitness is very under rated and I wanted to be one of the people to help others see that it’s not only for older adults or for those who just want a social hour. It’s for people of all ages who want to be powerful inside and outside of the water. It’s fun and low impact which is great for your body!” 

Angel is married to husband Charles Miller, and in their spare time they have made quite a splash in the world of TikTok with their collection of Funko Pops that they constantly film creative content for and have an audience of 1000 followers.  “I’m a huge nerd! I love all things Disney, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and most any other book series turned movie!”

Thank you, Angel, for contributing your time, enthusiasm and passion to the ever expanding world of Aqua Fitness. And who knows - maybe you’ll soon see her and her class members making waves on TikTok! 

JUNE 2021
Where: Esporta Fitness, Cincinnati, Ohio
What: Aqua Fit

Elaine Davis resides in Cinncinati, Ohio, where she teaches Aqua Fit classes four times a week at Esporta Fitness. Although she started out as a class member herself, Elaine ended up taking over teaching classes in 2017 when the previous instructor left to have surgery. Immediately igniting a spark with her fun and effective workouts, Elaine soon increased class attendance and became one of Esporta’s most popular instructors. So many of her class members have written in to SwimandSweat to express their love for her and her high-energy classes!  

“Word started spreading about the class being so dynamic that more and more people showed up for the class. The people in the class came to be closer to each other as we worked harder and harder under Elaine’s guidance. Love Elaine Davis’s class!” -Mary Quinn  

Class members emphasize that Elaine treats her students like family and genuinely cares about each and every one of them – a quality that shows in everything she does. When the pandemic hit and the pool was shut down, Elaine made sure to keep in contact with her class members – even putting a safety plan into place that allowed everyone to socially distance and feel confident and comfortable returning to the water.  

“I can’t express how she truly cares about our health. She’s upbeat, she pushes us, and she challenges us every class. Elaine deserves to be given this title because in everyone’s eyes that she teaches she is – and will always be – the best teacher of the month/year!!!” -Kathleen Hammond  

With a lively music assortment that keeps members pumped up and motivated, it is no wonder that Elaine’s classes are in such demand! According to Virdel Hill, “her skills are excellent – I believe she should teach other instructors how to make class fun and still get results!” 

“Elaine deserves to be instructor of the month (and of the year!) because she inspires all of her students at every class. Elaine creates a culture of kindness and caring in her diverse and popular class. Many members of the class have had health challenges – Elaine remembers them, and we as a class care about them. Elaine is an inspiration. As a result of her class, I feel fit, I feel reenergized, I feel centered, and I feel safe! Elaine is a wonder!” -Patty Livermore 

MAY 2021
Where: Topeka, Kansas
What: Aqua Boot Camp, Aqua HIIT, Boxing, and Water Spin Circuit
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May is all about celebrating the wonderful mothers in our lives, and I could not pass up the opportunity to nominate my own mother, Shelley Owens, as SwimandSweat’s Instructor of the Month!  

Shelley started teaching aqua fitness classes in 2013 at Genesis Health Clubs in Wichita, Kansas, when the lead instructor noticed her tremendous potential as a student. She always gave 100% in each class she attended, and people took notice.  

During her time at Genesis, she developed dynamic and challenging water classes such as Aqua Boot Camp and Aqua HIIT. Anyone who took her unique boot camp class could tell you - she knew how to make you sweat!  

In 2017, Shelley managed to get me in to the water after much hesitation on my part. It’s a weird feeling - having your own mother kick your butt with a workout! She is the reason I fell in love with the water and became an instructor myself. Those who have worked with Shelley or have been a part of her classes can tell you that not only is she a hard worker who puts heart and soul in to each lesson plan, but she has a huge heart for each person who walks in the door to a class. Cheri Hastert, who was the Genesis Group Coordinator at the time, recalls her time spent with Shelley.  

Ann Atkins notes, “Shelley is a team-player, motivator, and Innovator! She is Witty, FUNNY, and Creative! She is always selfless and a faithful team-mate and friend! She brings all those attributes to her classes, not to mention, she's one hell of a "hard-body for 70!" And how does Shelley keep that body hard at work? By mixing both water AND weight workouts into her schedule. She took personal training sessions from Ann Atkins and soon decided to join a power lifting class called Group Power.  

Shelley began Group Power a little nervous, but it didn't take long for her confidence to grow.  She soon began increasing her bar weight and seeing her body change.  As that happened her confidence grew more, and she soon realized she could do ANYTHING she put her mind to. Age is simply a number and Shelley is a testament to that! 

In 2019, my mother and I made the decision to move to Topeka to be closer to family. While I continued to teach aqua fitness classes, Shelley took a brief break to simply enjoy being a class member again. Even as a class member, she continued to inspire those around her to push themselves just a little bit harder and demonstrates proper form and pace to those who may need some extra help. This summer she will be making her teaching comeback by helping with our new boxing and water spin circuit at the Shawnee County outdoor pools, and I could not be more excited to have her at my side kicking butt in the water!  

My mom saved my life by introducing me to aqua fitness. It brought me out of depression and made me feel alive for the first time in a very long time. I am so thankful that I get to share the love of water with her as she continues to inspire my own teaching every day!  

-Sharlie Peterson  

Shockwave Aqua Fitness

APRIL 2021
Where: Parafield Garden Swim School, Australia
What: Aqua Zumba, Aquapole and Austswim

We are thrilled to introduce our newest addition to the Swimandsweat Hall of Fame Instructor of the Month, Donna Wilmott! Based in Adelaide, Australia, Donna currently acts as the fitness coordinator for Parafield Garden Swim School, where she is adored by members and staff alike for her sparkling personality and wildly popular classes that strike just the right balance of fun and challenge! What makes Donna so special? Tim explains, “Donna is one of the most inspiring instructors I know. She is always enthusiastic and trying to bring the best out of everyone in her classes. She believes in always continuing to build on her knowledge to bring new things into her classes to keep things fresh for everyone and to make each class a challenge. With a great ear for music and good timing, Donna always has a class that makes you want to move and give your best. The best part is that she always makes you feel like you’ve done a great job and finish with a smile! 

With a passion for fitness that grew out of her experience as a gymnast and dancer, Donna now holds her Certificate III & IV in Fitness, AEA, Active Training & Austswim Aqua Instructor & Aqua Zumba Certifications, Zumba Certifications, Pound and Boxing Land Certifications – whew! She specializes in providing further education workshops in Aqua Step & Choreography and loves training and mentoring other instructors. In addition to teaching, Donna is widely known for her work with Aquapole Australasia, were she acts as a Master Trainer for Aquapole and SAF Aqua Drum Vibes, Salti Australia and most recently, Euro Education Aqua Italy. She is also an International Aqua Presenter that has presented in Australia, New Zealand, and Italy, and has been instrumental in new aquatic equipment distribution throughout Australia and neighboring islands. Donna is passionate about changing the face of Aqua Fitness so it is recognized as fitness for all, and as the Event Coordinator for the 2020 Australian International Aqua Fitness Convention, she was responsible for bringing the biggest contingency of international presenters to Australia that the country has ever seen!

If it sounds like this woman does it all, it’s because she does! As Catherine puts it, “Donna’s enthusiasm and endless energy (don’t know how she does it!) during and after classes just makes you smile! She always pushes you just the right amount to achieve your fitness goals! I really enjoy the hard work she puts into her sessions to make them unique, fun, and just the right amount of hard work! I have many injuries and Donna helps me adapt moves so I can continue with my fitness goals. If Donna was a superhero she would be “WONDER WOMAN” – she is AMAZING! With glowing reviews like this, it’s no wonder that this dedicated instructor’s classes are always full and her fans keep returning week after week for more – a testament to her popularity and success in creating a fun experience that’s also a great workout. Clearly Donna has mastered that winning combination, since according to Silvia, “I always have fun in her class – no matter how I’m feeling, the end result is always energized and happy!”  

Donna’s fans also emphasize the inclusivity of her classes and the fact that they offer a lot of variety and engagement, noting that she understands each participant’s individual ability level and tailors exercises accordingly to help everyone achieve their goals.  Crediting her as friendly and approachable with an amazing ability to connect with people and inspire them, participants appreciate that Donna takes the time to understand anyone’s existing injuries/limitations and uses her expertise to guide and motivate them through the process of recovery, building, and moving on. As her “aqua sister and bestie” Adel gushes, she is “an amazing instructor, mentor, and friend. Donna always goes above and beyond to support everyone no matter where they are in their fitness journey. Her knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm are inspiring for many. Everyone who crosses her path falls in love with this little pocket rocket. An amazing instructor to watch – the smiles in the water say it all!  

Thank you, Donna, for your commitment and service to your pool and the field of aqua aerobics – we are so appreciative of all that you do to inspire our water fitness community here at Swimandsweat! 

MARCH 2021
Where: Blacktown Aquatic Centre, Western Sydney, Australia
What: Zumba, Zumba® Toning, Aqua Zumba®, Zumba Sentao®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba® Kids & Kids Jr., Zumba® Step
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We are excited to welcome our newest member to the Swimandsweat Instructor of the Month hall of fame! This month we are proud to introduce Marlee King of Western Sydney, Australia. Marlee has been a ZIN™ Member since November 2010 and what she credits with realizing her passion and drive. Zumba helps keep her fit and feeling fabulous and her ultimate goal is to share her love of Zumba with those around her. Marlee is confident that this exercise style is for everyone—young, old, experienced dancers, or completely new to the experience! She is licensed to teach Zumba, Zumba® Toning, Aqua Zumba®, Zumba Sentao®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba® Kids & Kids Jr., Zumba® Step. Through these classes she’s had the pleasure of reaching so many new people that keep her motivated. Through these classes she’s had the pleasure of reaching so many new people that keep her motivated. When Nicole took one of Marlee’s Aqua Zumba classes for the first time, she was blown away by the experience...  

“I attended an aquatic class today at Blacktown Aquatic Center 9:45am class. The instructor was fantastic. She understood how to use the water as a tool for exercise, had a routine to keep people motivated, gave appropriate exercise technique instruction and on top of this was super friendly and appropriate for all the participants in the pool. This is the first time I have seen an aquatic instructor at this pool that understands at least basic water physics and the goal of aquatic classes. Please let her know and I hope we see more instructors like this employed in aquatic classes!” 

Melissa is another veteran of Marlee’s coveted Aqua Zumba classes and was inspired to become an instructor herself! 

"I have been attending Marlee’s Aqua Zumba for almost 4 Years now and I can honestly say I have never seen an instructor like her. She makes every class fun with her uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Marlee has an amazing ability to push people to their limits and go beyond them. In her Aqua Zumba classes, you get a full body workout and walk away feeling accomplished. She has changed my outlook on fitness and has exceeded my expectations. Take a class with her… you will not regret it!" 

Thank you, Marlee for all that you do to inspire and motivate our water fitness community! We appreciate you and so do your participants.

Where: Genesis Health Clubs, Wichita, Kansas
What: Aqua Boot Camp, Aqua HIIT, Aqua Surge
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Swimandsweat is pleased to announce our most loved Instructor of the Month this February! We recognize that many men and women wear a lot of hats this day and age, and Rebecca (Becky) Burch is no exception! As a mother of three boys, Tanner (20), Chase (17) and Ephram (15), Becky also works as full time as a legal assistant at a law firm. Despite managing a household with three boys, helping with homework, and working, she also gets to teach group aquatic fitness classes! 

Becky began teaching group fitness classes over 8 years ago when she lived on Oklahoma. Since then, she moved to Wichita, Kansas and continued her passion of encouraging a healthy lifestyle. At Genesis Health Clubs, Becky teaches a variety of aquatics classes including Aqua Boot Camp, Aqua Hiit, and Aqua Surge.  

Becky’s favorite part about being a group fitness instructor is meeting people and developing friendships. The members in my classes are a fantastic group of people. They show up, they work hard, and they have fun. I have a very supportive group that are always willing to try new things along with bringing new ideas to the class. She loves seeing the support and encouragement from everyone at the pool. Becky's participants don’t only support her but they support each other as well, from the pool to other events and activities. As Becky puts it, it’s the members… that is why I keep showing up. They make it easy to love teaching classes”! 

One of the ladies who nominated Becky is Linda Shultz, who notes that she does such a great job teaching. On Monday night Aqua Boot Camp we have some hockey players that come to class and say how sore they are after! We do lots of fun things, we have a good time doing it, but we always get a good, hard work out”! And as Karen puts it, “Rebecca is a great aqua instructor who gives it her all. She changes up the routine for every class that she teaches, and she also just jumps right in and does the workouts with us all and challenges us to do our best!”  

Thank you, Becky for everything you do to serve our water exercise community! Your participants really showed us how much they love and appreciate you, and so do we! 

Who: Betsy Bochte
Where: Coronado Fitness Center in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
What: Low-impact Water Exercise with a focus on stretching and balance

Swimandsweat is excited to announce not only a very special and beloved instructor, but also a very special birthday! Betsy Bochte is the newest member to our Swimandsweat Instructor of the Month hall of fame, but she has been practicing and teaching for over two decades! Nominated by her friend and fellow Turtle, Joanie Ibinger, we invite you to wish Betsy a very happy 90th birthday this January, as a token of appreciation for everything she does and continues to do for her beloved water exercise Turtles! Betsy lives in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas and currently teaches at their Coronado Fitness Center. She is a former nurse and brings skilled expertise and relatability to the exercises she teaches. She has a unique ability to use her knowledge of physiology to explain the benefits of each movement to everyone in class, so they understand WHY they are doing them and how they can help.

Betsy’s classes have a functional and familiar format so that her participants get used to her style. Singing songs such as the ‘Hokey-Pokey’ and ‘My Grandfather Clock’, help her participants have fun with their routine! Betsy incorporates movements that help with everyday life to create a social yet beneficial low-impact session with an emphasis on stretching and balance. The class enjoys long steps, skips, a little ‘bunny hop’ and a whole assortment of leg and arm movements before they use baby steps to ‘climb the pool wall’ and practice lifting themselves up! As it turns out, Betsy is not a paid employee of the Coronado Fitness Center—she volunteers her time! But as she puts it to her students, “I get more benefit from this than you!”.

The phenomenon of the Turtles started back in 1976 with a group of ladies meeting regularly at an outdoor pool in Arkansas. Their lifeguard suggested they start a little exercise routine and that was the beginning of the ‘Turtles’. This playful name arose from the fact that they would keep their heads stuck ‘out of the water’ – as to not get their hair wet! Today, most of the Hot Springs villagers, especially those that use the community’s active Coronado Fitness Center, know and love the ‘Turtles’, who were instrumental in getting their pool enclosed in the early 1980’s. And, as Joanie Ibinger recalls, “When one of us ladies discovered a chlorine-resistant ‘Swimandsweat’ suit that we ordered online, the word spread – most of us ended up with a black one and over the years, it’s been commented by others, ‘Do you ‘Turtles’ have a uniform?? We [Turtles] not only love each other but we also love ‘Swimandsweat’ that offers a good quality chlorine-resistant suit!”

Thank you, Betsy Bochte, for everything you do to serve our water exercise community and your fellow Turtles. You are an inspiration to all.

We wish you a very happy birthday and beautiful year ahead!

Who: Jenni Lynn Patterson-LaCour
Where: Virtual Teaching Small Groups, One on One Training, Marlene Meyerson JCC New York, NY
What: Kickboxing, H.I.I.T., Pilates, Circuits, Aqua Strength Training
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“I was thrown into the water (literally & figuratively) from an early age, and I took to it like a fish! Participating on swim team I quickly moved up to Captain and absolutely loved the miles of practice every day. Once I was not able to swim daily, I thankfully made friends at the gym who directed me towards fitness conferences.... this is where I discovered aquatic fitness and from that point on, I wanted to learn everything there was to know!”-Jenni Lynn 


Jenni "Fell" into teaching aquatic fitness by complete accident when an instructor at an earlier gym resigned on the spot, and since she had her CPR certification, she was asked to "Fill in" and teach the aqua class. Thankfully, she came from a swimming background, so she started with drills and fun activities with the equipment, but soon Jenni had a FULL class and I absolutely LOVED teaching it! She was hooked and decided to get as much education as possible, and that is when she found the AEA and the rest is history in the making! 


Jenni recommends to all others entering the water fitness world that continuing their education is part of being an amazing water fitness instructor, which is the reason she is certified with the AEA ATS, NSCA- CPT, CEC. She also is the provider and creator of S’WET by Jenni Lynn Fitness. She has been teaching in NYC for over a decade, incorporating kickboxing, H.I.I.T., Pilates, Circuits, and strength training in the pool. Her mission is to change the perception of aquatic fitness to create an inclusive environment for all ages, abilities, and genders! “The best instructors remain the student and always seek opportunities to gain more education in their line of work. Never stop learning!”-Jenni Lynn 


During these challenging times It is our DUTY to stay home now more than ever. But just because you cannot get to the gym or pool, does not mean you have to stop working out! Throughout the coming months, Jenni Lynn recommends at-home workouts, that she features on her STAY HOME SERIES that you can do from just about anywhere free of charge!  


Jenni knows the importance of staying active and healthy, during these challenging times and finding was to stay connected while offering education and inspiration with her new The Aquaholics Bootcamp Podcast. This amazing podcast was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to connect, inspire, and motivate members of the aquatic fitness industry and beyond. Each episode Jenni chats with fitness professionals and industry leaders from around the globe to find out what they are working on now and get to know them a little bit better personally!  


“With battling chronic pain and chronic exhaustion, due to multiple medical issues, my doctors were losing hope in me being able to continue to live a productive life. In first meeting with Jenni Lynn, we discussed my limitations and at no point did she view me as limited. She had a broad knowledge of how to work with these issues and worked hard to understand more about how water exercises could improve my strength and mobility. With working with Jenni Lynn, I was able to progress to taking several water classes a week, along with doing laps on my own for extended periods of time. 

Water exercises alleviated all the pressure on my joints and spine, enabling me to move in ways I could not do while standing, including jumping, running, and stretching. As I built up strength, I was able to do ‘land’ exercises that previously were almost impossible. 

Jenni Lynn Patterson LaCour enabled me to exceed my doctor’s expectations, making them reconsider my capabilities. Jenni Lynn not only improved my quality of life; she increased the possibilities I have in life.” -T.B. 


Thank you, Jenni for all that you do to inspire and motivate our water fitness community! 

Who: Sharlie Peterson
Where: Shawnee County Parks & Recreation Pool and GreatLife Fitness Center
What: Aqua HITT, Aqua Jump and Aqua Jam, Shockwave Aqua Fitness the Aquatic Training Program
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Aquatics has given Sharlie a new passion in life. You can tell how much she cares about her classes and how they affect her members. She has also shared with everyone how aquatics has helped her on her own fitness journey.” -Jo H. 


The Swimandsweat team is honored to share Sharlie Peterson’s water fitness journey and what inspired her to become the best water fitness instructor to improve not only her health and but the health of others along the way. 7 years ago, Sharlie was diagnosed with a stomach disease known as Gastroparesis, making it difficult for her to digest food properly which created excess gain weight.  


In 2017, Sharlie joined a gym to become healthier and lose weight. She was introduced to aquatics by her mother, who is also an aquatic instructor. They often collaborate on innovative ideas and learn from each other. Sharlie Peterson is originally from Wichita, Kansas. Sharlie is certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association, AEA and has been teaching for the past 3 years. She also teaches certification classes herself to get people interested in becoming an aquatic instructor, and inspire others to join the water community. Sharlie oversees Shockwave Aqua Fitness, the Aquatic Training Program at Shawnee County Parks & Recreation pools in Topeka, Kansas, plus, she also teaches at GreatLife Fitness centers in Topeka. She believes in creating new, fun exciting water fitness challenges for large groups to take part in, such as her Sunflower Aquathon and Water Walks. She also specializes in Aqua HITT, Aqua Jump and her own program Aqua Jam.  


“This was my first year that I participated in water exercise. My very first class was with Sharlie as the instructor and she got me hooked! After a few classes, I found myself missing water exercise classes and moving things in my schedule so I could make classes a part of my routine. Sharlie was always incredibly positive, motivating, funny, engaging, and personable which made the classes even more enjoyable. On the second or third class, she shared a bit of her story with the class and it sounded so much like mine. I hated traditional exercise she said it was not her favorite, I needed to lose weight and be more active and she did too, so on and so forth. That night, I reflected on what water exercise had done for me and decided to train to be an instructor under Sharlie! She has taught me and many other so much and has started to blow up the water exercise industry in our area. I know she has inspired many people to get up and move and shown them they CAN be successful at working out in the pool! I am so blessed to be able to train with and under her and be part of this amazing movement in our area with her as our leader!” -Cori H.  


If Sharlie is teaching or attending classes she finds it important to wear water shoes for safety and to get the most out of her water workout. “I am in love with my Aquamore pink and grey Aquacisers! They are so comfy”!-Sharlie P. She also has been staying active at home by doing weight lifting exercises and filming exercise videos for her class members to do that are low impact. She advises to everyone, “that the water is for anybody, any age. Do not be afraid to dive in and see just how much your body is capable of that you did not realize! It is not only good for your body, but for the mind as well”.-Sharlie P.  


Water exercise has improved Sharlie’s life in being able to aid her with improved health and wellness to help with some of her own medical issues, helped her to lose weight, and battle depression. 


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

JULY 2020
Who: Jen Thuma
Where: Bethany Village Retirement Community, Mechanicsburg, PA
What: Aqua Aerobics, Hydro Fusion

“We are excited to announce and welcome the newest Swimandsweat Instructor of the Month Jen Thuma!  “Jen is a great instructor and always has a smile on her face. She gives a great work out and it is different every time. Bethany Village has several instructors, but Jen is the best and her classes are always full. She is the reason that so many of us come to her class.” - Theresa P. 


Jen Thuma is originally from Lebanon, Pennsylvania and has been a water exercise instructor for more than 15 years. She currently teaches 6 classes per week that include Aqua Aerobics, Hydro Fusion a blend of Aerobic, Strength, Yoga, Pilates at Bethany Village Retirement Community, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Jen received her certification through the AEA Aquatic Group Exercise and Silver Splash


Jen was first introduced to water exercise in college during her internship at a rehabilitation center. After the internship, she began teaching water exercise at her first job. In the beginning she was teaching one aquatics class for a short time. Once taking on the aquatic coordinator position at another retirement community, she began teaching up to 10 classes per week.  


Water exercise has improved her life in many ways. “I love the opportunities that water exercise provides for all people. I love introducing younger athletes to the world of aquatic exercise beyond lap swimming I have had the opportunity to teach an aquatic wellness course at a local college! I love that individuals who cannot comfortably do land exercise have found great freedom in how they can exercise in the water and have seen benefits, some more than land exercise. One of the benefits for me personally, of being an aquatic instructor Is that it has given me unique opportunities to teach while also being home with my kids.” -Jen Thuma 


“I’ve appreciated water exercise/aerobics for many years. I believe that you cannot get the same type of benefit from any other type of exercise! Balance, strength, endurance, overall fitness, and improved mental health are just some of the good things that I get from Water Exercise. 


When you combine the above positives with Jen’s talents as an instructor, the results are truly transforming. Jen is creative; she mixes up the routines and music. She is a born teacher, making her thoughtful lesson plans flow easily and seamlessly. Jen enthusiastically combines dance, yoga, stretching and calisthenics so that class participants are always having fun while working out!  

The pandemic has prevented our classes meeting for several months now, and I am more than “missing” our workouts, I feel bereaved without them! I can’t wait till we can return to the pool and Jen’s encouraging, capable presence.”-Pat D.  


I have been taking water exercises for the past 12 years (3 times a week). I have had many instructors, but none can compare to Jen Thuma, who teaches at Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg, PA.  Jen teaches her classes to seniors who reside in the retirement community of Bethany Village, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, as well as community members who are both men and women in the senior age group. Her classes are amazingly creative and very well-choreographed. When she began teaching us, we were a varied group of capabilities. Over the 3 years I have been with Jen she has raised the fitness level of the group by challenging us with new moves and always motivating us to enjoy the classes and get a great workout. Jen always uses music that draws you into the class and her well thought out moves give our bodies a thorough workout. She is a master at giving cues for exercises and always gives options for those who need something different, whether because of physical limitations or because they want more of a challenge. The choreography of the classes varies, so we never get bored and the routines are fun! I always look forward to coming to class - even in the cold winter when it takes more effort to get ready before and after using the pool. I recently moved into another nearby retirement community with a state-of-the-art wellness center, including a saltwater pool. I made the decision to leave Jen's classes since I live in the building where the pool is located. Unfortunately, the level of instruction in my pool is nowhere near the quality that Jen offers, and so I am returning to her classes at Bethany Village. I have missed her classes and quality of instruction so much.


 “Jen is so deserving of "instructor of the month" from swimandsweat.  In fact, in my opinion, she is Instructor of the YEAR!” -Debbie K. 


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


JUNE 2020
Who: Elicia Stewart
Where: In-Shape Health Clubs

“Congratulations!  This month the swimandsweat team is excited to celebrate Elicia Stewart for being an inspiration in the water exercise community. 

“I was privileged to spend summers in the water and swimming has always been a love of mine.  I recommend water exercise for rehabilitation and those that need additional help that they can’t get it outside the gym”. -Elicia Stewart. 

Elicia is originally from Yuba City, California and teaches In-Shape Health Club Yuba, City California.  She is certified through AFAA, Fitour and has been teaching water exercise a little over a year.  She has been teaching group fitness for over 10 years and has been a personal trainer for over six years.  She is currently teaching five classes- Aquatone, Aqua Fit, Spin, Boot Camp, and Easy Does It.  Water exercise has been something that as a personal trainer Elicia recommends highly to people, since she loves the water and knows all the benefits that come with it.

Water exercise was first introduced to Elicia by her Mother who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and was prescribed water exercise as therapy. As a Personal Trainer she knew the benefits of water exercise, but it was different seeing how it affected her mother’s recovery. Although her therapy was in a heated pool and different from the formats that Elicia currently teaches.  She was inspired to add water exercise to her roster.  YES! Most people are surprised to hear that water exercise is one of the most challenging classes that she teaches (due to humidity and concrete) but it is also the most rewarding.

When shopping for a new swimsuit for water exercise Elicia looks for the correct fit. “I don’t want to worry about it shifting or chafing-the fit is everything”. -Elicia S.  She recommends water shoes to EVERYONE who takes an Aqua class. It makes such a difference in engaging in the movements adding stability when needed and gives added protection when entering and exiting the pool. Since she goes through them quite often, she likes to purchase inexpensive ones that slip on. 

“My favorite instructor is Elicia, and she inspires me because of her smile, kindness and she's a patient teacher”. -Carol Menard. 

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

MAY 2020
Who: Therrel L. Brown
Where: Alamance County Community, YMCA

The swimandsweat team is very excited to nominate Therrel L. Brown aka Sarge!   

 “Sarge has a regimented routine, encouraging aerobic and cardio participation.  His sense of humor keeps us going with laughter and his slogan “Morale is High” is echoed by the class”. -Betty     

Sarge has been teaching professionally since 1963 at Military Training in Lackland AFB, Texas and taught Air Force Basic Training for over 4 years.  He also attended the Academic Instructor course at Maxwell, AFB, Alabama and taught leadership, human relations, race relations and leadership for 5 years at the NCO Leadership School at Pope AFB, North Carolina.  He also taught physical exercise as part of this program. For three years he coordinated a Gerontology Program at Fayetteville State University, 1977 to 1979.  He incorporated the physiological and psychological aspects of aging into his program.  Therrel L. Brown has a BS Degree in Sociology, a Master's Degree in Adult Education, and a Ph.D. in Psychology and Counseling. 


“He inspires me and the rest of the classes with his commitment to the teaching, while incorporating his humor (and this is sometimes stretching the meaning of the word) and care for each and every one of us.  During one of our exercises, he will ask who is having a birthday, anniversary, or “procedure” …  and we sing happy birthday to that person.  Just this past year, we had a surprise party for Sarge’s 80th birthday.  This is a man who teaches water aerobics for two hours straight, 3 days a week!  He’s a terrific role model for us… both physically and emotionally.  Most of us are a little younger, and some are older than he is”. -Betty G Hubschman, 


Originally from Charlotte, NC he started his water fitness journey as a student/participant in every class that the Alamance County Community YMCA offered for over a year and was called upon to substitute on many occasions.  In 2003 he was asked to put together a routine of his own which consisted of elements of the other classes, plus, a “military” style routine that consisted of marching or jogging in place while using hand weights.  At times this was accompanied by a military drill cadence.  Class participation in this one-hour class on occasion exceeded 50 persons to include more than a dozen men, this was exceptionally important.  


In 2004 he began instructing 2 classes back-to-back on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays class of “Shape Up with Sarge” at Alamance County Community YMCA, Burlington, NC The attendance in his water aerobics classes regularly exceeds 30 participants per class and some attendees have been in his classes for over 15 years.  After 16 years of water aerobics he emphasizes the importance of the holistic approach to water exercise is to include lots of humor and socialization. 


 In addition to the health aspects of Water Exercise, Sarge enjoys the “human aspect” of seeing the same participants, some who have been coming for over fifteen years.  He knows each of them as individuals, and will ask if everyone is ok if they aren’t in class.  He is considered a friend, and he thinks the same of each of his participants. Also, Sarge’s overall health has improved.  He was able to quickly recover from hip transplant a few years ago.  Most importantly, he gets to share his love of health and fitness with others.  He loves teaching and loves the folks in his class and talks about them all the time. 


“I had back surgery in January 2004.  The healing and recovery were long and having been a member of our local YMCA, I was wanting to get back in the water and exercise.  I started very slowly just water walking in the deep end of pool.  There was a class exercising in the water that was new to me.  I had never seen that particular instructor, so I watched how the class was conducted a number of times and finally was able to speak to him.  Told him of my hesitation and what my goals were.  He just told me to come join the class and do what I could.  No pressure just lots of encouragement for everyone in the class.  That has been about 16 years now and we both are still there.  He has a quality of leadership and personality to teach water aerobics and you don’t even realize you are exercising.  Our class has a varied age group.  Two are in their 90’s.  We have a lot of fellowship with each other and care for one another.  We are more like a family.  He teaches 2 classes back to back and both classes love and respect him.  There have been very few times he has he been absent over the years.  He has been the reason that more men have joined our class and now we have about half women and men.  My husband, who never experienced a water aerobics class goes with me regularly 3 times a week.  The doctors are pleased with both of us and say keep doing what you are doing.  As long as we can and Sarge is there, that is what we plan to do as long as the good Lord provides the way.  It is my pleasure to comment on Therrel Brown for Water Instructor of the Month for sweatandswim.”  -Rena S. 


When shopping for swimming trunks Sarge wants to make sure swimsuits cover what they need to cover! When It comes to footwear, “Yes…. Therrel wears water shoes that his favorite daughters buy him every year for his birthday…  especially his oldest daughter, Elisabeth… who is his MOST favorite child—hands down 

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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