My Favorite Kickboxing Combination

Tuesday, July 02 2019

Sometimes a seemingly inconsequential event can reshape your life and completely change your career path by creating a domino effect. Kickboxing was my game changer – the lead domino.

Like other group fitness instructors in the 90’s, I was teaching step, hi/lo, body conditioning and stability ball classes. And then came Tae Bo and kickboxing fever swept studios across the globe. Like other instructors, I “drank the Kool-Aid” and got kickboxing certified and started teaching kickboxing in my step and hi/lo classes.

In 2000, I was getting my CPR renewed by the aquatic director at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Rochester, NY, where I was personal training and teaching land classes. The aquatic director, Starr Greenwood, seemed uncomfortable asking, but she finally blurted out, “Would you ever be interested in teaching kickboxing in the water?” And I replied, “Well, I haven’t been in the pool since the 4th grade picnic but I can try.”
The sound of a falling domino could be heard.

April 2000

I started teaching my first aqua kickboxing class on Thursday nights at 6:30pm. The class had formally been an aquatic pre-natal class. The preggo ladies were the first to bail out. I was awful. I taught like a land instructor, spinning around the deck like a tornado. I couldn’t figure out why the students were so “sluggish” and couldn’t keep up.

November 2000

Aside from being a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor, I was also a struggling free-lance writer and had recently been published in AFAA’s American Fitness magazine. With high hopes, I decided to submit another article to American Fitness about my experience teaching an aquatic kickboxing class. While writing the article, I interviewed Angie Proctor, the executive director of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) – the same organization that I had just certified with. The article, Aqua Kickboxing – Get Ready For This, was rejected by American Fitness magazine. However, Angie asked me if she could use the article for the launch of AEA’s first website. The web article was well received and Angie asked me if I would write more web articles – for free of course. “Sure, why not?” Light-Hearted Leadership with Mark, an AEA web column was launched. And with it, a few more dominos fell.

October 2002

Abundance was flowing. My classes were packed at the JCC and I added a morning aquatic kickboxing class. The seniors loved it! Inspired after attending IAFC in 2001 and 2002, I felt I had what it took to become a continuing education provider with AEA and to apply for IAFC 2003. Despite by fears, I applied for both because I really wanted to share my aqua kickboxing routine with other instructors. During the application process, I drove Angie crazy with a million neurotic questions. Surprisingly, I got approved for both. Big dominos…


My very first IAFC session was called – Box & Boogie. I had a stomachache the entire time I was in Sanibel because I was so nervous. My session totally bombed. They hated it. (Glad I wasn’t nervous for nothing) I was still teaching like a land instructor and the aqua experts called me out on it. Fortunately, I also taught a lecture that year, Public Relations 101, and that that session was well received. Because of this, Angie gave me another chance in 2004. (Reluctantly no doubt!)


The brutal comments from IAFC 2003 evaluations motivated me to work hard all year at using the water in my classes. At IAFC 2004, I came out kicking and swinging with my session, Kickboxing Waves. The practice paid off and I received much better evaluations. Later that year, I also received an invitation to initiate the process of becoming an AEA Trainer. Major dominos!


Lights, camera and action – I was now ready to take kickboxing to another level. Combat Aqua was filmed that year. It was my third DVD and I filmed the entire “aqua” routine in an aerobic studio. Combat Aqua has since been retired and if you have any of those DVDs please keep them to yourself!


Like the prodigal son, I once again returned to kickboxing with my workshop and DVD – Pool Kickboxing Classics. This DVD is one of my all time biggest sellers and the Youtube clip for Pool Kickboxing Classics has had over 30,000 views.


Here I go again. In my application for IAFC 2015, I submitted a session called - H2O Kool Kicks. Not sure it will get picked, but I submitted it because I am once again teaching aqua kickboxing in my classes at the Sarasota YMCA and the students are enjoying it. And for this reason, I created the new video – My Favorite Kickboxing Combination. As in the past, I just wanted to share something fun that I was doing in my classes.
Yes, the dominos are still falling…

My Favorite Kickboxing Combination:

Be sure to check out the preview above and watch the full video as a Fitmotivation subscriber.

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.