Water-based fitness classes are an ideal exercise and rehabilitation choice for people with injuries, the elderly or anyone wanting a new way to build strength and incorporate aerobic exercise into their health routine. Water fitness classes can be adapted for a wide range of age groups and physical needs. Instructors with a background in land based fitness may benefit financially from expanding their skill set to include aquatic fitness. Standard requirements for pool safety are required for water instructors. However, there are no national standards for aqua aerobics instructor training.
Obtain CPR/AED and lifeguard certification. Most gyms, health and recreation facilities require instructors to have CPR/AED training. Water based fitness programs require instructors to be lifeguard certified. The American Lifeguard Association offers a first-time lifeguard certification that includes both lifeguard and CPR training (see Resources). The American Red Cross and the YMCA also hold certification programs for both CPR/AED and lifeguard certification across the U.S. (see Resources).
Take aquatic aerobics courses. Future instructors can benefit from attending and observing aquatic aerobics classes taught by certified instructors. Developing your own fitness and understanding the needs and issues of students can help shape the water fitness programs you design and teach.
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Enroll in an aquatic fitness instructor training program. Check the local YMCA, the American Red Cross and aquatic fitness certification programs for instructor classes. Look for training programs that include basic anatomy, water choreography and the adaptation of land-based strength training to water-based exercise. Some certification programs may include video, audio and online training modules in addition to in-pool training.
Get certified. Aquatic instructor training programs may result in a certificate of completion but not a certification. The Aquatic Exercise Association offers certification for aquatic fitness instructors. Certification maintenance and renewal will require continuing education courses as outlined by the AEA (see Resources).
If you are training for an instructor position with a specific organization, inquire about that organization's hiring requirements. Some organizations may prefer specific training background that others do not require.