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Water Exercise Instructor of the Month

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

What's Your Water Exercise WHY?


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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