My heart is racing as I hang up the phone. I am a newly certified WaterART Instructor. I have just spoken to my first employer. “If you can come in tomorrow at 5:00pm for an interview, I have a class at 8:00pm... you could teach every Monday for the next 10 weeks.” What a rush of adrenalin!
My biketard, mitts, water shoes, resume, and lesson plan in hand I race out the door Tuesday morning. I drive across the city with visions of hope (and employment) spinning in my brain.
The interview is over, the paper work is in place, and 15 minutes before the class I am on deck to meet and greet my class. My participants start to filter in. ”Good morning my name is Gloria welcome to class….”
The greetings I got back went something like: ….
“Who the #@$%& & are you?”
“Where the #@$%& did they get you from?”
“What an ugly bathing suit”
“What are those stupid things on your hands” (pointing at my mitts).
I started the class with a thorough exercise safety explanation.....and throughout was met with comments of:
“You are not working us hard enough”
“We hate you being in the pool get up on deck”
“We are going up to the office to complain about you”
“We hate your music!”
“We hate your class!”
“We hate you!”
“We will get rid of you”
Oh my goodness, one of them is sticking her tongue out at me…Is that SPIT in my face??? I managed to keep my smile and sunny disposition throughout the class. By the time I emerged from the pool, the lifeguards had cleaned the deck of the pool noodles and I headed straight to the staff room. My bubble burst, I sat head in hands, hot tears in the back of my eyes, my world had just turned black. In came the instructor that teaches the deep-end class at the same time I teach the shallow class. She took one look at me and said. “Don’t be discouraged. They will get used to you. They had the same instructor for 3 years and have trouble with change. This class is very feisty!”
Not willing to give in to defeat. I returned week after week the comments continued. The spit stopped! I asked what do you want me to change? What music do you like? With no positive feed back such as we like to do jacks or we like to do bicycling or we like Elvis…”Only we hate you”, “You do not work us hard enough”
Week 5, I met one of WaterART Master Trainers & she asked me where I was working and how it was going. “Oh I know THAT class. They are feisty aren’t they? They really like to move” She said with a glint in her eye!
I persevered! Before each class I reviewed my WaterART videos and reviewed my manual trying to put together the perfect prescription for the lesson plan.
Week 7, I attended a WaterART continuing education class taught by Julie Twynham. I had talked to Julie on the phone previously about my class. I had told her about their continually telling me they hated me, and their complaining that I was not working them hard enough. At the workshop she enquired about my class. I explained to her my predicament had only marginally improved and asked her to show me some advanced level moves to take back to my class.
With renewed verve, I entered my class on Tuesday morning. And after warm up I started with some of the new things I had learned.
“WE are not doing THAAAAAT.” Then the class all started to float on their backs and ignore me. OK, at least before they did participate! I had learned the valuable lesson that not working them hard enough did not necessarily mean the same as using advanced level moves. With my lesson plan now destroyed I turned to the class. “Here is what we are going to do today, I am the facilitator and you are the teachers. When I point at you, you do your favorite thing and the class will do that move until I point to someone else.” To my surprise they incorporated into the class all the things I had been teaching them each week. They actually used quite good form and excellent posture.
Week 9! As I entered the building and headed for the pool my boss stopped me and asked me if I would return after the holidays and teach the same class for another 10 weeks. My heart stood still and I am sure my jaw dropped. “I will let you know next week,” I stammered.
As my class filtered onto the deck, I told them NOT to enter the pool. They looked a little surprised! I laid it out for them. I had been asked to come back and teach but I would not return unless their tongues stayed in the mouths. I told them that if I did not come back, the class would be cancelled because they could not find another instructor. So what is it going to be? “You, as my class, make the decision, ME or Nobody!!!” You can talk about it after class (or during since you never stop talking anyway) but I need to know the beginning of next class.
Week 10! My class entered the deck looking a bit sheepish rather like scolded children. “We have a Christmas gift for you!” said the ringleader. My eyes popped out of my head. “Why thank you very much. I guess I will see you all after the holidays.”
Week 1, session 2, I enter the pool deck, my class engages me in wonderful conversation about our time off, and most welcomed me back. After class, six people came over to me and told me what a great class it was. One new participant told me she had heard what a great instructor I was and cancelled out of her yoga class to join my Aquatic Fitness class. “Why thank you for telling me I am so glad to hear that!” I managed not to let my jaw drop or my eyes bug out. One of my regulars waited behind and asked me if I could ask my boss to let me teach a Thursday class. She wants to come twice a week but only if I would be the instructor. The color started to flow back into my world.
That week I was up at the WaterART office. Julie asked me how it was going. I was pleased to announce the enthusiasm with which my class and I have entered the New Year. I received a BIG smile!
So now I throw down the gauntlet to you – the WaterART Instructors of the world! You CAN do it!
Realize it is not easy to teach a class of “conditioned” personalities, especially when the former instructor always did the same program. But it IS possible! All you have to do is hang in and teach a good, safe, program with lots of variety.
Perseverance paid off! My strategy was to keep positive and realize that it was just a test of endurance! Eventually I was able to facilitate peace and good sportsmanship and I earned the respect from this class that I now REALLY look forward to teaching each week.. .
submitted by Gloria Amanda, Certified WaterART Fitness Instructor ( and proud of it!)