Water Fitness Training

This morning my alarm went off before 4:30 a.m. Intense!

I worked the early shift today which meant I arrived at the gym before 5 a.m. I thought the morning might drag since I’ve never had a job that began at 5 a.m., but fortunately the energy and hustle and bustle of the gym made time fly by.

Before leaving for the day, I met up with one of the group exercise instructors to take her water fitness class and pick her brain a bit since I will be teaching the class myself very soon. The class is quite popular at our gym which is a great thing, but also intimidating.

photo (2)

Knowing that many of the fitness instructors have a loyal fan base at our gym is a little unnerving since I don’t want to come in as the new instructor and be a disappointment. I’ve talked to a lot of the instructors at our gym about being the new kid on the block and they have all been so encouraging and said they remember feeling the same way at some point. They’ve been honest with me and told me that I will likely be compared to previous instructors for a while until the members get to know me and my teaching style.

I’m looking forward to the challenge and developing my skills. I’m hoping to learn some valuable takeaways during my AFAA group exercise certification workshop and will continue to take water fitness classes at the gym and learn from current instructors. I also want to be sure to select some good music!


When I arrived home from the gym, I dug into a late lunch. I packed breakfast and cinnamon peanut butter popcorn to eat as a mid-morning snack while I was at work but didn’t bring food for lunch and was pretty darn hungry by the time I got home.

I fixed myself a plate of tuna salad served with a sliced pear and peanut butter.

tuna salad with pear

I made the tuna salad with carrot, celery, cucumber, scallions, mustard, light mayo and sweet relish.

tuna salad with carrot relish scallions fresh pear

Hunger = Satisfied!

Question of the Afternoon

  • What do you look for in a good fitness instructor?

I’ve always loved fitness instructors that select motivating, upbeat music and really push me to work harder than I would on my own.


  1. says

    That class looks so cool! Do not worry – it is clear from you great personality that you have what it takes to be an outstanding fitness instructor 🙂 I think I just look for someone that motivates me and brings energy to the room…but not too much haha


  2. says

    I like instructors who have great energy and play upbeat music! Although you would assume fitness instructors have some sort of rhythm and can keep the movements to the beat, I’ve had a few before that got off track at numerous points which ended up being distracting and a little annoying.

    Good luck with your first class! Something I’ve always thought would be fun so I can’t wait to hear all about it!


  3. says

    4:30am makes for a long day! Phew! I look for someone who is approachable and friendly with high energy! They seem to have the most fun in class 🙂


  4. says

    4:30 AM is very early! Luckily, that means you get off earlier.
    When I take a class, it is important that the instructor knows what he or she is doing, can explain the moves, has upbeat music, and is motivated!


  5. says

    I always like a fitness instructor (especially when they’re new and depending on the size of the class) to personally introduce themselves to everyone individually as they come in. Whenever I’ve been new to a class, most instructors will do that and it makes you feel more comfortable with each other and with the class in general I think.

    And like you said, upbeat good music is a must 🙂


  6. Becca says

    I’m SUPER picky about my fitness instructors and I think a couple things make a huge difference — seriously challenging participants while also offering modifications, having a plan you’re familiar with and won’t need to stop to review, and not repeating workouts over and over again! But you’re so planned, organized, and friendly I think you’ll be great!


  7. susie miller says

    I like instructors who have good music and who are energetic but not TOO over the top. My favorite instructor always pushes us and is really outgoing, but you can tell she’s being herself and not this weird peppy version of herself. You’re going to be great at it. Good luck!


  8. says

    From what I know about your personality through blog land I feel like you’d be a great instructor. They should be nice and fun to chat with but still able to challenge the whole class and not ignore anyone. You seem aware and eager to make a fun and engaging environment.


  9. says

    I look for upbeat instructors, who arrive early and will stay after the class. I also like ones who stick to the time schedule. if it starts at 8, start at 8. If it’s supposed to be over at 9, end at 9. I’ve been to too many classes where I have to leave so I can get ready for whatever is next and the class is going over the time!


  10. says

    I love when fitness instructors find a good balance between challenging you to push yourself and still allowing you to work at your own pace and fitness/flexibility level. It’s really motivating to feel like an instructor understands where your capabilities are but still encourages and believes in you to improve! I am currently being trained as a barre bootcamp instructor, and it’s really nerve-racking to think of teaching big classes, but I look to my current instructor as my main source of inspiration!


  11. says

    I’m a fitness instructor myself — It’s ALWAYS nerve wracking joining a new gym, bu tnot to worry — you will get the hang of it! I think it’s important to have a positive attitude, always provide modifications, and make every workout different. Good luck!


  12. says

    The thing about being an instructor is to just be yourself! Don’t try to be like someone else. Bring your own style and go with it. Interact with members. The worst instructors get up there and do the workout for themselves. Don’t be afraid to get close to them, correct form and get in their bubble.
    Riff a little, share your knowledge a little bit. But not to much. Keep all your cues straight forward and to the point. They aren’t going to understand or care about all the terminology you learned.
    Most of all.. HAVE fun!!


  13. says

    I like fitness instructors that have great music, are encouraging and energetic throughout the class, and that call the next moves with enough time to switch to them while keeping the rhythm (if that makes sense)! I’ve been to too many classes lately where they call the next sequence right when it’s supposed to be happening and I get so thrown off


  14. says

    What has kept a core group of us going back to our boot camp instructor for three years now, in my opinion, is knowing he cares about us. That we’re not just a customer at the gym. He asks how my week was and how my kids did on their state tests (I’m a teacher). He knows stuff about all of us. Going to work out with him is like having a friend up there. :). It’s fun to work hard for someone like that. And when he yells and pushes you, you know he really does care!!


  15. Megan says

    I always love it when instructors quote some kind of fitness saying, especially when we’re all in the middle of a really intense part of the workout. This is especially true in body pump for me! “Summer is coming whether or not you’re ready for it!”-great for living in WA state and wanting to get bikini ready! “Crazy is a word used to describe the dedicated.” ect. Sometimes I’ll even use quotes to get through the tail end of a challenging run. Positive self talk is so important. I’m sure people will love coming to your class Julie- your blog is so positive, inspiring, and hilarious!


  16. emma says

    I recently had a spin instructor who emphasized individual goals but also working as a team. ie “we’re beating the other team up this hill, keep going!” I’d never had an instructor refer to the class as a team and it made me feel a sense of responsibility to everyone to work my hardest.


  17. says

    I’m gonna go ahead & put another vote in there for upbeat music. I once went to an interval training class & the guy was playing trance type music(?)! I just couldn’t get into it.
    Also, I love when an instructor is super approachable in case I have questions after the class


  18. says

    You’ll be great! I like different instructors for different reasons. All of my spinning instructors take a different tact, and I really like it. There’s only one that I have hated, as he was too busy showing off to his friends and ignoring the rest of the class (plus his workouts were boring and samey).


  19. says

    Personally, I love the fitness instructors who are as out of breathe and sweaty as the rest of us but keep encouraging us to keep going! I love funny instructors, too, who throw in little bits of information within the workout to make me giggle and ease the tention IF possible. lol


  20. says

    This has nothing to do with the fitness instructor question… but I love that you add so many things to your tuna salad! Normally I just do mayo/mustard/relish, but this makes me realize I can add so many more things!! BRILLIANT! 🙂


  21. Helen says

    I like instructors that bring energy and enthusiasm to the room, and from all I’ve read on your site, I think you’re going to be great at that. It’s also important to me that an instructor is familiar with the routine so I don’t feel like they’re taking the class because nobody else wanted to. For me, a teacher that is good at explaining form or the moves (especially for something like BodyPump, which I really hope is in your teaching future!) quickly becomes a favourite; I know there are many that will attend a class very frequently, but for those new, learning or wanting to improve, it’s a really valuable check and is often overlooked by teachers that cater to their regulars.


  22. says

    Hi Julie – I’m a fairly new follower and have never commented before – but had to give you a shout about that yummy popcorn in the previous post!! Can’t wait to try it!
    Best wishes with your new classes – I’m sure you’ll be great!! ( :


  23. says

    Yum that tuna salad looks great!

    I think once you start all these worries you had will disappear once you’ve had your first class. I love instructors who are motivating and push you but also know when not to push you. It’s great when instructors ask at the start of the class if people have injuries so they know not to push them on certain exercises or include modified exercises. Variety of music and moves in the class to me is essential as well. Good luck I’m sure as I said you will be great 🙂


  24. says

    That is an early start, yeeesh! 5 a.m. stuff can be so so early… ;)I teach a BP in that hour, and it can be quite rough some weeks. hah!

    You’ll be fine as an instructor, Julie! No worries. You are organized, fun, and upbeat, and you care about people. That’s what people want!! Also, this was huge in helping me get to be a better fitness instructor: FIND the favorite instructors & take their classes over & over & over again. Learn their cues. Talk to them & pick their brains apart. You’ll become ‘your own’ after awhile, but so so important is to fake it til you make it. Make sure you come off as confident, even if you don’t feel it. Gym people immediately get turned off if they feel the instructor is insecure. And even if you are, FAKE it. 🙂

    And of course, music is huge. Learning people’s names is huge. And pushing people outside their comfort zones is huge (while still giving options & being calmer for those who want it). You’ve totally got thissssss!!! Email ever if you have any questions! xo


  25. Monica H. says

    As someone else mentioned, love instructors who cue you ahead of time for the upcoming move. Bonus points if you face the audience and mirror the moves while using the terms left and right from the audience’s perspective, not your own (tricky but I had Jazzercise instructors who were awesome at this).


  26. says

    I love instructors that do the workout with you; a bit hard with water fitness but I find an instructor that is sweating along with the class say in the likes of spin a real motivation! 🙂 Looks like your settling in the new role nicely! Do you mind your workout schedule changing around a bit?


  27. says

    I like good music as well, but also someone who is nice and enjoyable to be around. I quit taking a class once because the teacher talked too much about herself and made me feel worse about my abilities than I already did! 🙁


  28. Stacey says

    Even though I’ve been going to the gym almost every day for the past 8 years, I’ve never actually taken a class (& yes my gym does offer Body Pump). The one big reason why I avoid them is the instructors. Every time I’m around when there’s a class going on and I hear the instructor screaming over the crazy loud music I just cringe. I couldn’t handle most of the music they play let alone having someone screaming at me. My advice to you would be to not pick songs that the radio overplays for one, and don’t crank it so loud that its viberating the speakers and you have to scream over it. It’s one thing to get your class excited and motivated, and another to come off as annoying. Good luck!


  29. Jackie W says

    I echo lots of the sentiments already about group fitness instructors (personal introduction, etc), but something that irks me is timeliness. If a teacher habitually starts late or runs late then I don’t attend their class, as I often plan a specific time window for workouts. Also, demonstrating and correcting form, I used to feel too awkward to speak up and ask and just adapted certain moves based on how they looked- and I wasn’t always doing them right!


  30. Ali says

    Oh boy, I know the 430am hour very well-that is frequently the time that I am already at work in the lab. The joys of grad school! Luckily, you get used to it!


  31. says

    I have always loved instructors who change up the order of the moves or even the moves that are done. It helps with making the workout fly by. So does an upbeat and excited instructor to give me some excitement and enthusiasm as well. Good luck! 🙂


  32. april says

    i haven’t attended a ton of group exercise classes at my gym, but i love the instructors who are upbeat, friendly, and, most of all, welcoming to first-timers! i’m sure you will make a FANTASTIC instructor! =)


  33. says

    I would like to see instructors that can recognize new students and kind of help them out without putting them in blast in the class. When I went to my first BodyPump class, I wished the instructor was a little more helping. I was able to keep up, only because I was watching everyone else. The second time I went with another instructor made the biggest difference and actually made me want to go back.


  34. Tamara says

    Music makes all the difference!!
    A balance between encouragement and motivation. “Remember why you are here!!” Is one of my favorite lines from an instructor haha I also like when an instructor will circulate through the room giving personalized feedback / tips / encouragement. Individual comments no matter how small have a greater impact for me than the general group comments. That is much easier to do in spin class, yoga etc. I can imagine anything in the water would make that challenging!!


  35. Emily says

    I’m sure you would never do this, but I can’t stand when instructors are more like “STOP CHEATING! WORK HARDER!” … are you kidding? That’s not motivation! I actually recently had one like that!

    I love when instructors are actually encouraging and working hard *with* you. 🙂


  36. Kim says

    I like when an instructor asks if anyone in the class is there for the first time. I think it allows people to introduce themselves as new, and also shows that the instructor is aware of the class week to week and probably noticed some new faces. Similarily when the class is all familiar with the structure, I like it when the instrutor bumps up the intensity, trusting that everyone is ok with the basics and adding a new challenge. Congrats on your new job!


  37. says

    I like when an instructor is firm in direction-but it usually annoys me if they are over doing it and yelling in an angry tone. I totally get that they’re trying to motivate the students, but I feel there is a very fine line between yelling at the class and instructing firmly in a loud, encouraging voice.


  38. Cindy says

    I think it’s really important that instructors treat everyone in the class the same. I’ve seen some that only pay attention and focus on the people who are regulars or who are more fit than others. Then there are also those who seem to single out the overweight, out of shape and/or new people. I like the idea of helping in a discreet way – like telling everyone just to hold up their hand or something if they need any help rather than running over to them and making them feel embarrassed.
    Also, as a high school teacher, the best bit of advice I can give you is to go in there with an air of confidence and let everyone know (without saying it, of course) that you know what you’re doing! Good Luck! I know teaching anything for the first time is nerve wrecking.


  39. says

    You’ll do great Julie! I’m sure it will be intimidating at first but once your students get to know you and see your passion and enthusiasm I’m sure they’ll love you! Good luck! 🙂


  40. says

    Oh ya, if an instructors music sucks I am more than likely to try a new class the next time, music is key! I also think knowing the abilities of the people in the class is important, and providing modifications as well.


    • Marci says

      I have never heard of “aqua fit” perhaps other gyms/areas call water fitness classes by different names. I know at my gym we have 5 or 6 different water fitness classes, each with a different name (including waterzumba)


  41. Bonnie says

    As one of the ‘old timers’ around – I’ll pass on a good piece of advice I received … don’t shoot yourself in the foot when getting going in a job by telling your peers you’re nervous or worried about how people will take to you. You know you have to earn your kudos and your clientele. Appear confident and that will come across vs. worried and needy – not saying that you might be coming across that way at ALL, but I’ve worked with people who have been like that and then you start thinking, hmm. Maybe they weren’t ready for the job if they’re insecure. Be confident and be strong and you’ll do fine!


  42. says

    Good music makes even the toughest class fly by. I suppose it depends on the cliental and the class, but I like instructors who are down-to-earth and enjoying themselves. Definitely the most important thing you can do is to be yourself. Seriously.


  43. says

    I have to teach my first pilates class on Saturday and I’m SOOO nervous, like already panicing about it haha. It’s only in front of my fellow pilates teacher trainers, but it’s still scary. And it honestly is hard to talk about form, the exercise, mirroring, benefits all at the same time. I’m totally reading all these comments for peoples tips;)
    You’re going to be amazing at this I’m positive! I’d for sure take your class if I lived closer…darn 😉


  44. Andrea K says

    The best advice someone gave me about teaching group classes was to imagine explaining the movement to someone who is blind, who cannot see you and replicate your movement by sight. Find analogies and feelings inside the body that you can relate to the students, so that if they were not watching, they could perfectly execute the exercise. Example: “head rotation” becomes “look over your shoulder as if you were checking to back out of a parking spot.” That advice has served me very well in Pilates instruction, but I think it applies to any group exercise 🙂


  45. Meagan K says

    You will be great Julie!! My favorite instructors have great music (sounds like you’re already on top of this!), are passionate, act “themselves” and let their unique personality traits show, make the class fun and challenging….all things you will be a natural at!!! I hope you enjoy your first class!! Good luck!


  46. Annie says

    Hi Julie, all way from South Africa, I can say that just from reading your blog you’re super-amazing and will be even more amazing as an instructor! Your treadmill workout has totally amped up my cardio. I also just love reading your blog. Its wonderful how people can live in different countries, and be worlds apart culturally, but can actually share so many similarities. Good luck but I know you don’t need it!!!!!!!!!!


  47. says

    I know you’ll do good! I bet its scary but they’ll love your class for sure! The only class I take as of now is spinning which I’m obsessed with. I love it because the instructor is so personable (she knew my name and has remembered it sense the second I walked in), she’s hard core but encouraging at the same time and she plays upbeat Christian and worship songs the entire class and prays at the end. So not only do I get a good workout, I’m spiritually uplifted 🙂


  48. sybil says

    My favorite instructors are the one that push themselves too. I do a lot of spin classes at my gym. My favorite instructor is the one who is out of breathe w/ us. He has signs to tell us what he wants since he is usually just as beat one hour into spin like the rest of us!


  49. says

    Wow…4:30 a.m.! So early! I’ve never taking a water fitness class, but I bet it’s probably lots of fun.

    I like an instructer that is motivating and fun! It’s also great when they really get into it and is passionate about what they do.


  50. says

    I LOVE an instructor who really buys into the workout they are teaching. If his/her energy is up and they seem to be enjoying the class I am more likely to push myself and have a great experience!! Still dying to try BodyPump based on your reviews!


  51. says

    I’ve been feeling the same way Julie. I am training to be a barre instructor at my local barre studio and I get so nervous just thinking about teaching a class-especially since everyone loves and is so used to the main instructor there. People don’t like change! I just pretend I’m not nervous and try and let my personality shine through. It seems as if you have a great personality and energy for this very purpose and you will be great. Your students will love you!


  52. Lydia says

    I came across your blog by accident but I love your recipes and fashion/workout tips you give. Keep up the great work!


  53. LG says

    Something I’ve noticed since I started taking Bodypump classes is that I love it when the instructor makes eye contact with us in the class. There are a few teachers that always look “above” all of us (since the stage is elevated), and it makes me feel a bit disconnected.

    I just finished reading “How to Really Love your Child” and learned that eye contact is one of the main ways that people feel loved. Crazy!


  54. Katie says

    You’re on track with the music! I once took a spin class where the instructor had us sprint while her music was in between songs. I never took her class again. Also, doing the workout with everyone I think makes a difference. Kinda hard to enjoy a class when someone’s just barking the moves at you.


  55. Kim B says

    Good music is a must…I took a spin class once where ther instructor played Beatles music the whole time…I have nothing against the Beatles…but for Spin…never went to her class again!


  56. Kathy says

    I am a 52 year old fitness instructor who got my AFAA group X cert. when I was 47 years old. I am working at a park district gym where all the instructors have 15 years or more experience. At first the instructors were all supportive, but quickly I learned it can be very competitive. Be true to yourself, do what you know, learn your students names, show them your personality and they will love you! Its always safety first, but show them how much fun a group fitness class can be! You will be awesome if you don’t try to be something you are not. I now teach 8 classes a week, (2 muscle classes, 1 cardio, 3 kettlebells (my fav) a core class and a bodyweight bootcamp class. Consistency is key in fitness and in teaching! Knock em dead! p.s. I am also a certified personal trainer but LOVE teaching WAY more! Good luck!


  57. says

    The music has to be loud enough, they have to be passionate and have enthusiasm- the classes should always be fun 🙂 Also they need to be musical and have rhythm- since I do I hate it when we end up off the beat because the instructor can’t stay on it hahah. Pet Peeve. When you’re surrounded by fab instructors people will have their feathers ruffled when someone comes in and replaces them it sucks, but they adjust to you and they’ll end up loving you just the same (From personal experience!)


  58. says

    Ouch, 4:30? I have trouble getting up at 7:30! :p
    As far as fitness instructor, I really like when they make everyone included whether they are new or not. I also appreciate when they do the moves along with the class instead of showing it once and barking out instructions.


  59. says

    I just love fitness instructors who aren’t afraid to look, act, and encourage like they’re working out. I love to be motivated, and it’s way more motivating for me when my BodyPump teacher, dripping sweat and panting, tells us that she knows its hurting, that she’s hurting too, but that if she can push we can push. As opposed to my spin teacher, who never seems to sweat and says things like “isn’t this a blast?” and “So glad you guys came today”. Nice things! Just not, I don’t know, the most motivating. Be in the trenches with me 🙂


  60. Rebecca says

    Hi Julie! I recently became NASM certified as well. I would first like to say thank you, because I first looked into it because of your blog! I see that you just got your first CPT job, congratulations!!! I am looking to start in this field as well. I was curious about how you did you resume? I have experience from college soccer and just general working out with other people but no actual “personal training.” I would appreciate any input or help!! Thank you:)


  61. says

    The water fitness class sounds great. Just believe in yourself and everything will work out just fine. And your recipe looks really yummy and healthy. Good luck to your water fitness class. Please do keep us posted.


  62. says

    Very cool post! Makes me want to do two things right now: go swimming and eat that delicious tuna dish in the photo. Also, I have to say that one of the best qualities of a fitness instructor, for me, is someone who finds your individual strengths and weaknesses and focusing on balancing them rather than putting too much stress on simply “pushing your body to the limit”. Anyway, thanks for sharing this!


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