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 Movement Chef


Author by Javier Bergas, BS


“Welcome to the MovementsChef program! Today we are going to bake a cake. The ingredients we need are…”

This could be the presentation of any cooking show that we see on television, and it serve as an analogy to prepare any fitness class that we will program from now on.

Let's imagine a meal or a dessert as our final product, but it represents our class! To know if our guests (participants) will like it, we must first know their needs, their preferences, whether they have intolerances, etc.  In the same manner, we must know the physical capacities of our students, whether they have specific needs, chronic conditions, etc.

Today we will be preparing a cake, one of those with a decadent filling and covered with… oops! I need to know first if I have all the ingredients and all the utensils to be successful! Let's start with the base: the sponge cake. And for this we will need eggs, sugar, flour, milk, oil or butter, vanilla extract, etc. This is the list of the basic ingredients with which we develop our base, so in the situation of our class we need the following:


Leg Moves

Arm Moves



100 ml.

Shoulder abduction/adduction

100 gr.


250 ml.

Shoulder transverse abd/adduction

2 tsp.



Shoulder flexion/extension

50 gr.


1 tsp.

Shoulder rotation medial/lateral


Rocking Horse

250 ml.

Elbow flexion/extension

250 gr.

Jumping Jack

1 tsp.







Once we are clear about the basic ingredients, we must start our preparation. For this we must know if the flour should be sifted or not, if the eggs are needed as is or beaten to the point of snow, if the sugar should be white or brown, and so on.  For class design we consider technique. 

We need to decide if our kicks are frontal or lateral, if the jog will emphasize the knee lift or the gait or step, or if we will need both.

Additionally, we need to know if the milk should be at room temperature or cold, which correlates to all the information I need regarding arm movements for the class.

Finally, we need to know what cookware and utensils are required to mix and bake the cake.  Or class tools include things such as musical or movement tempo, the movement plane, the amplitude range, the level of impact and all the available strategies to create new combinations.



To change the legs patterns:

To change the arms patterns:

Impact level

Surface area (hand position)

Adding travelling or not

Simultaneous / alternating / single arm

Adding imbalance or not

Assisting or resisting

Modification of move (muscle activation)

Movement tempo

Movement tempo

Changing depth

Modifying lever

Modifying lever

Changing/combining planes



We have the ingredients, techniques, and kitchen utensils necessary to make the base, the filling, and the frosting. However, the more ingredients I have available, the culinary techniques I have mastered, and the kitchen utensils I can access, the more possibilities I have for creating new and exciting foods and becoming a great chef!

If I open the fridge and I only have four ingredients and when I open a drawer; I only have a fork and a spoon, but I don't have a knife; and I can only use the oven – will I be able to make any food? Of course! And it will surely be exquisite, but what would change if we had at our disposal all the ingredients of a market in addition to all the utensils and techniques of a great professional kitchen? It would change everything! Since the number of dishes that we could make would be almost infinite.

So, going back to the analogy, I invite you to discover the basic aquatic movements and to know all the possibilities to adjust plus all your teaching tools.  A simple egg –  how many ways can I prepare it? Fried, poached, Florentine, boiled, scrambled, omelet, benedict, sunny, baked, toad-in-the-hole, etc. and all this with just one basic product.  Imagine having two, or three, or four ... plus we need to explore the possibilities that each of the products offers.

Back to the cake, I need something else very, very important ... the recipe! What will make the cake fluffier or denser, or sweeter or more acidic?  For this we go to our recipe book. We can translate this into the training systems for our fitness programs that we can find in our AEA Aquatic Fitness Professional Manual.  Find the appropriate chapter and learn about continuous, circuit or interval training chapter to choose your best option. Check out other “recipes” through online education, in-person workshops and conferences to expand your training choices.  For example, interval “recipes” include the sprint Interval, short intervals, long intervals, high intensity intervals, etc. and within each option are further variations of timing and structure.   Or you might choose to blend two recipes – the cake from one with the icing from another … or a combination class of both intervals and circuits!  The more methods I know, the more possibilities I will have to create more classes.

The cake is almost finished, but we still need to assemble and add the final decoration to make it appetizing and eye-catching while, at the same time, suitable for the final event of eating and enjoying. Remembering what we said at the beginning, we must know for whom and what occasion we are making that cake.  It is not the same for a  birthday party for children, teenagers or adults and birthdays are far different than weddings.  Are you teaching an adult class or children’s program and is the occasion cardio training or a mobility class or a recreational activity?

In this last phase,  our creativity and our personality will play a very important role.  We must choose how to place the equipment around the pool, are we working in stations or everyone together, do we need signs to delineate exercises and traveling directions, is there an overall theme, etc. In short, everything we will need to be able to do class in the best way possible.  And of course, we must select the music that is the cherry on top of the cake!

What’s left to do?  Simply enjoy this delicious recipe all together!




Javier Bergas, BS, is a primary school teacher, International AEA Training Specialist, AEA AFAP/AFEP Program Leader Trainer, and the product manager of Ego Wellness Resort in Lucca, Italy and MirandaGym in Majorca, Spain. He is an aquatic fitness and swimming instructor for various populations.  To learn more, contact Javier by email (javier.bergas@gmail.com), visit his website (https://javierbergas.com) or connect via social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter - javier.bergas).

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