Q&A – With Our Water Guru

Please outline the highlights of your career thus far that have helped get you to where you are today.  
Certified Aquatic Fitness Instructor (NESTA, USWFA), Red Cross Certified Swim Instructor & Life Guard, Yoga Instructor, Semi-Pro Hockey Player (SuHL), Power Skating Coach (QC Jr. B), Ski Instructor (QC, BC), Strength Training Coach, Mtn Bike Guide (BC), CPR Certification (Red Cross), Water Ski Instructor, Competitive Swimmer. I have a world of experience at different jobs in many different environs that come into play when dealing with the physical motion.

Where does your passion for fitness stem from?  Why did you choose to pursue a career path in the fitness industry? 
I started doing sports at a very young age. As a kid I excelled at swimming, hockey, skiing, baseball and football. Having an older brother who was a great athlete helped push me to compete at a higher level. I always loved the water and some of my fondest memories when I was young are in the water in Florida or at summer camp north of Montreal. Fast forward to a few years ago… with the boom of computer technology I got away from my passion for fitness and gained a lot of weight and incurred other health issues. When I moved to Miami in 2008 I made a genuine effort to change my lifestyle and habits. I spent a considerable amount of time in the pool researching different modals of fitness gear in the water, studying water mechanics, hydro-dynamics getting certification and viola the proverbial “light bulb” went bright.

What inspired you to conceptualize and launch AquaFit Miami & when did you launch it? 
Like a lot of people I spent most of my work days sitting in front of a computer and before I knew it I was obese and developed joint pain among other issues. So, I decided I needed to change my career path and get back to doing what I loved and had a passion for all the while healing myself. It had to be physical and interactive and in the water. A couple of key things happened that brought AquaFit Miami to fruition.

Firstly, I went out and bought just about every kind of water fitness gear you can imagine such as buoyancy foam, webbed gloves, float belt, kick boards, hand paddles, hydro bells, swim fins and realized that something was still missing in terms of maximizing the properties of water as a tool for fitness and well-being. From what I bought I had developed some excellent exercises that aided in strengthening upper, core and lower body but I wanted to streamline the gear since I was using a combination of equipment and to simplify things I figured I would need to design my own gear to actually maximize the benefits of the exercise regimen I came up with. I knew this would cost me money and time but as if kismet would have it while I was researching and shedding pounds I came across an interesting article about a former professional sports team strength training coach working with an elite professional star athlete in the water using fitness gear that had just been developed for his rehab and strength training. I found info on the company and bought some of the gear to test. The gear included some exercises that were along the lines of what I had been doing. This was huge in getting the ball rolling.

Secondly, to target my business and develop an approach to clientele, I combined the fitness regimen and gear with personal concierge services similar to a spa or massage therapist to create AquaFit Miami and although I started with specializing in one-on-one training we have also been doing small groups and classes for a while now. Currently, I’m developing an AquaFit Boot Camp on Miami Beach. Combining land and water training to maximize strength, cardio, flexibility and not overheat in the process of pushing yourself exceptionally. So after you do the land training and are pushed to exhaustion you hit the water and take it to the next level of training with built in recovery. The water can undo some of the damage from land training and allow you to push yourself even further.

AquaFit Miami effectively gets you in shape if you are not and gets you into amazing shape if you are. 

Would you say that AquaFit Miami is suitable for men and women of all ages?
Absolutely, YES and children too. Also pre and post natal, obesity issues, arthritic, joint, muscular issues and we even have a client that cant workout on land due to burns over 80% of his body.  AquaFit Miami can do general interval training or specific training all depending on our clienteles needs.

If you could describe the AquaFit Miami water fitness regimen in three words, how would you describe it?  

What is the most important message that you would like to convey to men/women interested in AquaFit Miami?
AquaFit Miami effectively gets you in shape if you are not and gets you into amazing shape if you are.  The harder you push, the harder the water pushes back. It can be as intense and as hard as you push yourself. Or at the other end of the spectrum it can be soothing, relaxing and tranquil. Another advantage is people have a viable option once they have completed post-op rehab to be able to continue their recovery and expedite the process of getting their life back to normal then by doing conventional exercise. People are more than 70% water, we come from the water, so doesn’t it make sense to use water which is our most natural setting to allow us to heal, gain strength, flexibility, balance without injury? Water is our most precious natural resource. WATER IS LIFE.

How does AquaFit Miami differ from other water aerobics/training classes?
Mostly it is the gear. We use hard impact plastic omni-directional resistant gear that is unlike anything out on the market today. Every exercise incorporates stretching and resistance (which is anaerobic) plus several exercises include cardio (aerobic). The gear comes in three sizes to cover all fitness levels. Our green grips & fins (speed module) allows the least amount of resistance so beginners or those that want more repetitions per set use these. The black grips (cross-trainer) offer more resistance and our blue grips and fins (power or sculpting module) offers the greatest resistance as if doing heavier weights with less repetitions. You can simulate several different methods of exercise using the gear in the water. From yoga, to kettle bell style core movements, from martial arts to pilates, from dance to boxing. The possibilities are endless due to the forgiving nature of the water and the design elements of the gear. You are much less prone to injury since there are no quick sudden movements. Your spine is protected in the water and if anything, AquaFit Miami can help correct spinal compression with the techniques and exercises we do. This is not foam or buoyancy gear… not even close. Every direction you move in the water you will experience constant resistance that cannot be achieved in the gym even with rubber bands. No other method of fitness is as forgiving and can be as intense as working out with AquaFit Miami. Other key advantages are the body doesn’t waste energy trying to cool down from overheating/overexertion. Plus the water will decrease heart rate by up to 17 bpm, no next day soreness (since kidneys function more effectively). Muscle fatigue in the water is different than land training.

Please walk me through your client process and describe the initial consultation, and how you exactly you access your clients physical concerns, goals, etc.
The initial consultation for a one-on-one session starts with our prospective client filling out a questionnaire on their current fitness level, how frequent they exercise, previous problems (such as surgeries, conditions etc.) and their short term and long term goals. We then get in the water and see what their fitness level is in relations to strength, flexibility, core strength, balance and over all conditioning and then formulate a program that helps them attain their goals.

there are several people that really do not have the option of going to the gym due to mobility, spinal, arthritic or other physical issues. The water allows these people to maintain or grow stronger to be more whole out of water and maintain their independence

Please tell me a few client stories about how AquaFit Miami has affected their every daily lives, state of mind, fitness goals and confidence for the better? 
Let me preface to say that every client we have got into the water has seen and/or felt positive results after the very first session. Also there are several people that really do not have the option of going to the gym due to mobility, spinal, arthritic or other physical issues. The water allows these people to maintain or grow stronger to be more whole out of water and maintain their independence. Our oldest client who is now 86 yrs. young had hip replacement surgery two years ago and two months after surgery and post rehab physiotherapy at the hospital she was looking to continue her rehabilitation. She said, AquaFit Miami was a godsend because she didn’t know where else to turn. The fact that AquaFit Miami conveniently came to her pool on her schedule, helping her in and out of the pool and patiently building her strength and range of motion back allowed her to eventually walk and live normally once again. As she has stated, “my recovery would not have happened without the help of AquaFit Miami”. 

  • A 46 yr. old man who is a daily yoga practitioner and avid tennis player was punishing himself by kickboxing and other gym related contact exercises whereby developing problems with his feet and hands. He tried AquaFit Miami and has been a religiously 3x a week client for 9 months. Now he only does, yoga, tennis and AquaFit with the occasional resistance training via pull-ups & push-ups. The water helps him with his tennis game since the movements in tennis create issues with knee, hip, arm and shoulder joints. Not too many pro tennis players in the top 50 are past 30 yrs. old. AquaFit not only helps him recover from his tennis game but also strengthens his game because it improves his core strength, flexibility, agility and range of motion.
  • A 79 yr. old woman who was very active up until a couple of years ago had lost her mobility recently started to Aquafit Miami only a month ago and with only four session over the past three weeks is able to get back to normal and walk the beach boardwalk, shop for hours and her clothes are already looser.
  • A 58 yr. old woman who had a heart attack 5 months prior to getting in the water with AquaFit Miami has increased her range of motion, strength and cardio-endurance and does AquaFit twice a week and would do it more if her budget and schedule allowed for it.
  • A 47 yr. old woman who has rheumatoid arthritis and is on prednisone to deal with the pain and discomfort swears by AquaFit Miami to allow her to maintain her strength and mobility. She is no longer out of breath when she has to walk up or down stairs or grocery shopping. She recently had a pool built in her backyard and the first week it was done we got her in the water and she now works out 3 days a week consistently.
  • A 32 yr. old man who was in an unfortunate accident had 80% burns over his body. He just could not workout on land due to the issue of overheating and his skin. He loves pushing himself in the water and getting back to the physicality he was used to before he was in injured. The only consideration was he had to work out in the shade but the convenience of coming to him was so beneficial while he was recovering. It has helped feel more whole being able to release tension anxiety and frustration in the pool in a positive healthy manner.
  • A 29 yr. woman who was overweight and trying to lose the pounds in the gym found it tedious and a strain going to the gym. It was so much easier for her to get in the water after work and enjoy the afternoon sunshine losing twenty plus pounds in a couple of months that it tightened her buns to the point she was bragging to show them off to her family. Her clothes were fitting better, her energy level was up and she thoroughly enjoyed getting in the water to workout.
  • A 74 yr. old woman that had mobility issues and constant pain in her right leg partially due to a torn meniscus and ACL needed healing. When we started, she was in tears explaining her problems and she did not have a lot of strength in her leg and was physically imbalanced due to inactivity and leg pain. She had always been active and the frustration and anxiety was wreaking havoc on her emotionally. Once we isolated the issue and got her on a consistent regiment of aqua therapy her leg pain over the course of a couple of months completely dissipated. She was so happy she had her independence back that she fired her live in help, started driving again and was able to do everything she used to do but now without any pain.

How has Aqua Fit compared to other fitness routines that your clients have participated in the past?  How does Aqua Fit measure up against past fitness routines they decided not to continue pursuing due to physical challenges or lack of motivation due to disinterest/boredom?
There are so many. I have mentioned a few already. The ability to push harder in the water than you could ever push on land. Compared to land training there is virtually no next day soreness. You are continually working your muscles and heart the whole time you are in the water without the sweat and stink of the gym plus you are outdoors getting your daily dose of vitamin D. You are able to stretch beyond the comfort zone you would stretch on land. In the water everyone is graceful (mostly everyone). Ability to gain incredible core strength and balance due to the body mind connection of working out in the water doing movements you could not do on land. As you expend energy moving your arms and legs in the water, you can see how hard you are pushing and pulling the water you move by creating ripples and waves.  The most significant one I hear all the time and not related to the exercising in the water is how quickly the sessions go. All the time I hear how a client used to clock watch in the gym dreading the time as it slowly lingered. Yet, when you are in the pool doing AquaFit you don’t notice the time in fact you don’t usually want to get out and feel invigorated when you do.

How many weekly Aqua Fit sessions would you recommend that one attend in order to see maximum results?
2-5 depending on program

How soon do your clientele begin reaping the benefits of physical changes in their body and stamina?
1-3 sessions

What are your long-term goals for Aqua Fit?
To bring AquaFit Miami water fitness to the mainstream by offering it as a viable (and very safe) alternative to working out in the gym, ring or road. To blow the misconception out of the water that AQUA FITness is only for old people. To reach out and share with everyone what we already know how the water offers real solutions to those that are physically challenged or active or want to get into the best and healthiest shape of their lives.

Do you intend on branching out and hiring other AquaFit trainers?

Do you have a personal philosophy regarding how a business should be run? 
Compassion, commitment and consistency, to provide our clients a positive enjoyable environment to promote health, longevity and well-being.

What facets of your job would surprise someone if they were to walk in your shoes for one day?
How much fun it is and amazing to see people heal and get stronger leading to a better quality of life.

What is your favorite quote?
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” -Nietzche 

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