Tuesday, July 02 2019

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The past decade has witnessed exciting progress in the aquatic fitness industry thanks in part to entrepreneurial spirit and innovative equipment-based workouts that feature poles, boxing bags, bikes, treadmills, trampolines, paddleboards, floating mats and more.  Pre-choreographed programs, such as Aqua Zumba® and WATERinMOTION®, introduced a new model of instruction to the pool and a new generation of aqua instructors and enthusiasts. However, one thing has remained constant in this sea of change.   Traditional aquatic fitness classes led by freestyle instructors who create their own routines are still by far the most prevalent form of aquatic exercise across the globe. 

Tantalized by videos on social media of the latest equipment and trends, these intrepid freestyle instructors scour their equipment rooms and make the most out of chewed up noodles and foam dumbbells greened around the edges.  They find ways to get creative with miscellaneous swim equipment and other props such as balls, bags, Frisbees and towels. In lieu of pre-choreographed programming, these dogged fitness leaders spent countless hours reinventing routines and writing out notes.

Despite the awe-inspiring videos on social media depicting the latest equipment-based workouts, the bedrock of the aquatic fitness industry remains the traditional aquatic fitness class.  Make no mistake, the latest equipment being showcased is exciting and it does attract more men and younger people to the pool. Unfortunately, the reality is that most instructors will never have access to this equipment due to either a lack of financial resources or sheer impracticality given their existing audience or pool space.  For this reason, has been dedicated to showcasing videos that feature no equipment or include equipment that instructors either have on hand or can easily purchase. 

That is not to say that we will never feature a video with specialized equipment, but for now the most common request for video content is noodles.  Why?  Because that is the type of equipment everyone has access to.  Obviously the next most common request is hand buoys.  Given that many subscribers have access to hand buoys and noodles, Fitmotivation will remain dedicated to providing more content that features this type of equipment.

However, there are other ways to create innovative equipment-based workouts without breaking the budget.  Recently, Martine Flamen from Belgium shared her Aqua Plastic Bag Workout with subscribers.  Even if you just introduce it for a small portion of the class, a plastic shopping bag filled with water can provide some fun ideas and some really powerful drag resistance.  Martine also sent subscribers running to the Dollar Store for small plastic balls after her video, Aqua Ball Workout, was posted.  Without doubt, one of the most popular videos to post thus far was Aquatic Frisbee Challenge.  Mushi Harush from Israel enthralled us with the amount of creative and challenging exercises that could be performed with a simple Frisbee.  Fitmotivation video viewers have access to several videos that feature simple and affordable equipment such as noodles, hand buoys, webbed gloves, kickboards, balls, bags, Frisbees and more. 

Choreography notes are provided for every video that posts on because I think the notes are an important component to the training platform.  However, I NEVER expected instructors to lead ready-made classes from these notes.  When I launched, I never envisioned or wanted the site to follow a pre-choreographed model.    Mind you, there is nothing wrong with these models. Pre-choreographed programs have helped create a renaissance in group fitness over the last decade.  However, I simply envisioned a learning resource that would include lots of videos led by various aqua experts.

Rather than teach ready-made routines, it was my hope that instructors would watch videos and take away moves, ideas and inspirations to build their own routines.  Given the fact that freestyle instructors who create and teach their own material lead most of the aquatic fitness classes on the planet, it is important to empower and educate these instructors. The Fitmotivation Streaming Video Service was designed as a “media library” for these freestyle instructors to gather new information.  Furthermore, I teach at a YMCA and I know how little instructors are paid.  Therefore, I made the site “commitment free,” so that instructors could subscribe and unsubscribe as much as they wanted.      

Every time an instructor goes to a workshop they become a better instructor.  Likewise, every time an instructor logs in to Fitmotivation and watches a video, reviews notes or reads a featured blog, they become a better instructor.   And based on the wonderful comments I have been receiving, I am confident that subscribers are learning, exploring and growing.

The future looks promising and abundant.  The equipment-based workouts and pre-choreographed programs that emerged over the past decade have given the aquatic fitness industry a much needed boost and have helped overcome the stigma that water exercise is just for seniors. looks forward to future collaborations and videos with these organizations.  But for now, we salute the foot soldiers, the freestyle instructors who have dedicated themselves to helping people live better, move better and feel better.  And we look forward to helping these instructors reignite their passion – one video at a time.     

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.