Aquatic Coalition Best Practices-Sept 1, 2020


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Getting Back To Class…

Are We Ready?







It will happen.  Our world, our countries, and most of our facilities and our classes will reopen.  Some sooner than others, but most facilities and pools will reopen post-COVID19. 

Sadly, we realize that some facilities and pools will not, and for those individuals impacted by this, we send encouragement that other opportunities will be realized. AEA knows the importance of regular exercise for health and wellbeing, as well as a source of income for fitness professionals across the globe.  We want to help you move forward as part of the AEA family. 

AEA would like to provide resources and share ideas regarding starting back up your classes and personal training sessions.  We encourage you to also share input – motivating ideas, scheduling tips, resources, and even your concerns.  Together, we can all become better prepared for this next phase of our aquatic fitness journey.

Please share your thoughts relating to these topics in the comment area at the end of the article.

Topic: Valuable Resources

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers many resources and guidelines for dealing with various aspects of COVID-19, including for schools, workplaces and institutions.  The publication, Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19, can be downloaded here https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/advice-for-workplace-clean-19-03-2020.pdf?sfvrsn=bd671114_6

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extensive resources on COVID-19, including guidelines for preparing facilities and businesses. Among the important links that you may want to access are:

Water and COVID-19 FAQs  “There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools, hot tubs or spas, or water playgrounds. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/water.html

Guidance for Administrators in Parks and Recreational Facilities https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/park-administrators.html

Guidance for Retirement Communities and Independent Living https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/retirement/index.html

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facilities https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

Get the latest coronavirus news, from the health experts at WebMD, by subscribing here: https://www.webmd.com/subscribe?pg=1166&icd=wnl_cov_web_cons_instrmend

The US federal government guidelines, Opening Up America Again, can be found here https://www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/#phase-one

But even the CDC and WHO will have a difficult time covering every possible scenario, so each facility will develop specific protocol (based upon federal, state and county guidelines) that employees and members must adhere to for optimum safety.  As a fitness professional, you must know your expected duties and clear communication with your facility management is extremely important, now more than ever!  Some areas to consider at your pool facilities:

We know that the pool itself is a safe place, but people have to get to the pool through the locker rooms and will need to use the restrooms.  What policies will be in place to offset these potential problem areas? 

Street shoes, and even water shoes worn in the locker rooms and bathrooms, will be potential sources of contaminants.  Do you need a modified policy?

Screening recommendations for staff and participants and what is your role in this process.  Will your facility have in place any special policies for members who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19?

Face masks while in public – the policies vary and will likely adjust with time. How will that translate into exercise scenarios?

Size of classes to allow proper social distancing. During intense physical activity, water droplets from respiration (which could contain the coronavirus) travel much further, so safe social distancing may need to be adjusted during group exercise classes.  Schedules may need to adjust to more, smaller class sizes.

Keeping facilities clean and disinfected will include all equipment.  This may be a good time to consider having your students purchase their own small pieces of aquatic equipment, such as gloves, noodles, bands & loops, and even hand bars.


Topic: Staying in Touch with Clients

Even as fitness centers and swimming pools open, not everyone is going to feel comfortable coming back.  Additionally, some facilities may have additional restrictions the older and at risk populations.  How can you reach those individuals? 

Some of you have been maintaining contact with your class participants and clients through the Stay At Home requirements, which has allowed you to provide encouragement and possibly at-home workouts for fitness maintenance during this interim period.  Some of the ways that we have been hearing about include the following:

Zoom meetings, Skype, Facetime, Facebook Live – for classes, small group interactions or one-on-one socialization

Closed Circuit TV – some multi-resident facilities, such as assisted living homes and senior living communities, provide exercise and related courses directly into the residents’ rooms

Email, text – follow up with notes of encouragement, inspirational quotes, educational topics and send sample home workouts.

Phone calls – some people do not have access to technology, or if so are not tech savvy, and appreciate hearing your voice on the phone

Including other information in addition to workouts: boredom busters, things to do while at home, brain puzzles, web links to virtual experiences, etc.

Other ideas to share? Add your comments below to help fellow AEA professionals.


Topic: Need for Socialization

The lack of socialization has been very hard for many people.  Research indicates that exercise adherence may be better in group exercise due to the social aspect of gathering together, feeling a part of the community and having accountability to others.  Once we begin classes again, many fitness professionals have already realized that the need to talk and catch up will be initially just as important as the exercise aspect.  Most people have had the opportunity to exercise at home, but most have NOT been able to visit with their fitness friends and family. So how do we prepare for this? 

Do NOT get frustrated with your class.  They need time to share, to interact, to experience the joy of gathering together again.

During the first few classes, plan for more time to socialize – while still following the social distancing directives that will be in place.

Now is not the best time for activities that involve touching – but in the pool you may choose partner activities that link individuals together by noodles, such as a circle activity where a noodle is extended between each person for the connection.

Guide socialization with relevant topics, e.g. what did you learn from this experience.  Kimberly Huff, AEA Training Specialist, has provided a list of 20 questions that will help you get started.  CLICK HERE TO ACCESS

Have you done something different that you want to share with your colleagues? If so, please share at the end of this article.


Topic: Impact of Reduced Exercise

Although many people have had opportunities to exercise throughout the Stay At Home situation, not all have taken advantage of the resources.  Some have simply been apathetic about exercising on their own, others may have been fighting depression and a resulting lack of interest, some were hesitant of exercising on their own – or even fearful of becoming injured.

And, although we live in a technology-based world, not everyone has access to this technology or understands how to jump into a virtual Zoom class!   Reduced levels of exercise for 2 weeks or longer will show declines in fitness levels.  Lack of exercise altogether, for some individuals that may be for periods of 2 months or more, can be devastating to physical abilities as well as self-efficacy, which might hinder the person from beginning to exercise again when the opportunity arises.

How do we prepare for our initial classes to ensure optimal safety?  How can we reach those – often our most-vulnerable populations – who may be hesitant, or unsure how, to begin to exercise again?

Don’t expect to pick up where you left off 5 weeks ago!  Reduce exercise intensity and/or duration and put more focus on technique for the first few weeks. 

Use this time to your advantage to add in components of much-needed socialization (see the previous topic: Need for Socialization).

Ask the participants, “What movements do your find more difficult?” Create exercises to improve performance of those movements.

Offer classes on how to use technology so that participants can access additional resources.

Offer classes where people will feel safe and comfortable in attending after a hiatus from exercise;  consider the class name, description and scheduling. 

Personally invite those who used to attend classes but have not yet returned.  Find out what is preventing them from coming back to class – health, finances, accessibility to facility, fear?  Can you help them overcome barriers?

Consider keeping some virtual classes on the schedule to help participants make the transition and also reach those who are not able to be in class.

What else can you do to make it easier to begin exercising after a long break – or for some, to finally begin to exercise?

Your colleagues would like to hear your ideas, so please post below.

Next Article Guidance for Cleaning & Disinfecting

10 comments on article "Getting Back To Class… Are We Ready?"

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I find the WebMD updates have been fantastic and easy to understand. Love the CDC assistance. This will help people when they get back to their pools. Thanks Julie See and Kim Huff for working on this and Julia Sullivan getting it launched!

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This is a great opportunity to share with your colleagues across the world. Please let AEA know what you are doing!

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Montse.A. Babiloni

Hello Angie, Julia and all of you!

I'm Montse A. Babiloni from Spain.

I'll pass you my proposal.

The goal is mainly a socialization work on a light aerobic work that everyone can follow to activate themselves without getting frustrated at the same time as socializing with their colleagues. As a secondary objective we can find the work of memory, creativity and sense of rhythm.

I will divide the class into three groups, making sure that there is a separation between the groups and between the group members.

Each group will have a number 1, 2, 3... and at the same time that they do a certain basic exercise, which does not involve technical complications and which they can do in a cyclical way without thinking too much, they will have to agree on inventing an onomatopoeia or a sound that is as original as possible and that depends on the theme that I propose. For example: Birds, means of transport, trades, animals, etc..

The operation will be as follows:

- Proposal of exercise.

- Proposal of theme.

- Sharing of the group.

- When I say "1" the team 1 makes its sound, then "2"... "3"..

- As I combine, some "melodies" will be created with the sounds that they have invented... at the rhythm of the exercise that I have proposed to them or I may have changed on the way.

- Once I have mastered this theme, I will return to a previous one, and they will have to remember its sound, so that when I say "3" then I will sing it again... It's your time... Play and enjoy with them.

It's a class I've already given and it was very well accepted, they had a great time, they didn't stop moving and practiced creativity, memory, rhythm, consensus, they forgot about all the problems of the day and enjoyed laughing with their classmates.

I hope you like it, and if you try it, let me know how it went.

If you need more details... I will be happy to answer you.

Montse A. Babiloni

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As Fitness Centers and some swimming pools are beginning to reopen, I would like to hear what everyone is doing:

how are you handling social distancing - smaller class sizes?

are your facilities asking the "most vulnerable" to continue to stay home and if so, how are you reaching out to those members?

Are staff and members required to wear mask?

Are there any restrictions on the locker rooms?

Thanks for your sharing - remember we are all in this together!

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I have found this so helpful with us preparing to reopen, please keep  the information coming

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This is great information. I have been sending my clients a weekly newsletter to keep them motivated as well as informed. I purchased the AEA Arthritis Exercise Guide for my arthritis clients and mailed to their homes. They really appreciated it. I have been taking online classes and earning CEC's. Our pool is still closed but I did work on two exercise videos which our Parks and Recreation Department has posted. As a subcontractor, it is a little scary since I still have monthly expenses whether I teach or not. For the time being, I am being optimistic. Keep updating us with useful information. I am sending this page to my pool manager.

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Thank-you for the information! Hopefully, soon we will be back in the pool.

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Are you going to use noodles, hand bars, balls,etc. when you reopen your pool for classes?

How will you sanitize them between classes?

Jlocker rooms and showers......what restrictions and procedures will you follow .our locker room is small it gets congested at times. Only 2 showers so people are standing around waiting for showers. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. This is an indoor pool at a 50 and over activity center. Thank you all.. betsy Fowler

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I just went back to teaching a week and a half ago. I am a subcontractor and do not work out of a gym or Y. My pool is outdoors and the capacity is 65. I was excited and concerned about teaching my first class in this new normal( social distancing) environment. I was not given a max number on how many people I could have in class... just to use my judgement. The first class had 13 people (ages 75-90) who started out properly distanced. When the participants began to travel with their moves they were not able to keep that safe distance. Some moved quicker than others and some were drifting. I did not use equipment other than the water itself.

The second class I set up circuits around the pool and had 1-2 people at each with enough area to spread out. This seemed to work much better.

I find myself going back to AEAs Code of Ethics as aquatic fitness professionals. I want to make sure I am following the necessary guidelines listed on the links in this article along with what my state recommends as well. I want my participants to enjoy their workout but I want them to also feel safe.

I really appreciated AEAs website with its links to help us prepare to return to teaching.

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I oversee the Fitness and Aquatics programs in 26 retirement communities. Most of our pools are open and we have resumed classes in some of our communities.

We have been staggering the class times to avoid back to back classes to limit the number of people in the locker rooms. We have also ask the residents to "take turns" using the locker room and if possible avoid using the locker room. This is only possible in settings where people live in the community.

Our average is 85, we have found that some people are excited to be back but many are still not comfortable returning to classes. We are continuing to reach out to those that are staying at home and encouraging them to walk outside and providing them with land based home exercise programs.

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