by Felicia Zadok
Hello. It is so wonderful to see you. How are you feeling today? Is there anything that I may do for you?
Now, more than ever, this is an essential opening conversation to share with everyone we encounter. We are living in a time where there is a deep need for social connection. We have been asked to socially distance but what we must do is be physically distant with an altruistic social greeting of the heart.
As an international community that has been united by the world of aquatic fitness for decades, we understand this. And now that we have all been pushed into another realm of unity, reaching out to others has become crucial. The emotional, mental and physical needs of most individuals have been elevated to new levels.
As aquatic professionals, we are a culture who has always understood how to use the current to our advantage. Yet, at this time, the crash of the wave is greater, making it much more difficult to catch and ride. Even though our planet has been stricken with the pandemic of COVID-19, as a coterie of leaders, our passions and dedications to health, knowledge, and the joy of fitness has not, and will not be, stopped.
We are, without a doubt, individuals who have willfully chosen to carry a great responsibility for others. We have caring hearts and an eager desire to assist our clients to become healthier; advance those currently with good health and aid those who need to recover health. But now the paths are a bit different and we must find new ways to navigate them.
Both instructors and clients have endured many new realities, each one of us with a story to share. Some of us have endured the loss of loved ones, some of us have experienced our own health issues, many of us have had to learn new ways to embrace our present relationships with others, and there are those who have been faced with financial hardship. The bottom line is that each of us has been removed from our day-to-day routine and pushed outside of our comfort zone into unchartered waters.
Depending on where you live, there are those who have been allowed to re-enter the pool environment, while others are still awaiting the okay. Though we are well aware of the safety of chlorine, the surrounding area has need for restrictions. This can be intimidating, and we need to be educated and patient.
Remember that a true leader is one who allows their human side to be seen. We must learn to do additional self-care, so that we can be strong for our clients. It is okay during the first weeks of returning to teach that you allow yourself to show your vulnerable side, while never forgetting to be humble.
Our skills and knowledge will continue to grow. So, though we already are aware that every person we work with has their own learning and performance style, we too must allow the room to work empathetically from a new level of consciousness and professionalism.
Even though so much has changed, what hasn’t changed is that what we do entails purposeful enjoyment and a need for creativity. We must offer fun workouts for our clients, remembering that many of them have not exercised in months. Bring more stretches and beginning moves that have alternative levels. Reassure people that they are welcomed no matter what level of workout they are doing.
Encourage everyone to be respectful of their classmates who might have different boundary levels. For some, it will be fun to share a right elbow bump symbolizing a hug and a left one for a kiss; for others this will be too close contact. Toe touches in the pool are another great form of contact between two people, as long as they are done keeping a leg length of distance.
It is our job to continue to hold a safe space of optimism and motivation. We can offer our clients different forms of imaginative inspiration. Change is possible and it is vital to be open to it as we move forward. Globally, each and every person has been given an opportunity to re-evaluate his/her personal view of life and determine what is valued most. Allow your minds to run wild with creativity.
We have one of the best arenas to get people together safely. Embrace it with love, gratitude, and healthy measures.
Felicia Zadok, aka Maddy Lewin on Facebook, is a New York-based Personal Development Coach and ordained Melchizedek Priest. She has been a group fitness instructor for over twenty years, certified with both ACE and AEA. A fun fact about her – she is also a professionally certified foot reader.