Zoom In, Zoom Out
By Einat Meiri Vatner, MA
Most of us, if not all of us, have experienced communication over the past two years using the Zoom platform (or other technological interfaces). This platform allowed us to re-connect the social distance created by the global epidemic and helped us continue to function as a global community, even in the absence of open skies.
It is worth examining how virtual platforms have affected our abilities as instructors - maybe improved, perhaps emphasized inherent abilities, or even changed completely. Let’s take a moment to “zoom in” and “zoom out” as we examine ourselves.
We must be grateful for the alternative that technology gives us. But, when we take a closer look at the essence of digital guidance, we understand that it steals the three main functions we strive to create in aquatic group fitness – water, movement, and social dynamics. Sure, this carries with it difficulty. Yet among the disorder, we have had to reinvent ourselves. Some of us have leveraged this reality to build and learn new techniques, refresh our skills, or even develop an independent and original methodology.
We had to put our leadership abilities into a digital square and to transfer information to other squares, sometimes off camera, sometimes containing faces eager to encounter knowledge and enrichment.
Framing, processing, normalization, adjustment, and capability are the terms I want to discuss and offer related questions for self-observation.
Framing. As I have already mentioned, with Zoom we are guided from one square to another, while the essence of movement is the complete opposite. Movement represents an intuitive, passionate thing that spreads out over space and place. This adjustment forces us to translate our movements to a linear point of view, which usually includes a presentation, written words, and an engineering display (squares) on the screen.
Framing requires precise planning; a structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end; and organized within boundaries and logic – just as we build our aquatic classes. But now we need to be ordered enough to teach theoretical information in a systematic and methodological way. True, we need a structure for any lesson. But agree with me that teaching theoretical information from a chair via the computer is essentially different from actively instructing to music.
How did you sharpen your framing skills (the need for order, organization, and boundaries)? Did it affect your coaching method? Did you feel the need for a tighter structure in class or maybe the increase in the need for flowing?
Processing. Some of us lead instructor training courses in addition to being instructors to our class participants. This period allowed more individuals to take part in instructor training, on a one-time or ongoing basis. Those accustomed to instructor training usually do so face to face, which makes it possible to clarify through movement and demonstration things that are difficult to convey in words. When we demonstrate, we understand what the movement produces in the body and muscles, how it should be performed, and the resistance encountered from the water.
Teaching through technology forces us to process information differently so that we can translate it to our listeners. Processing information for verbal guidance is different than processing information for movement instruction. In my opinion, this requires a greater depth of understanding on our part. We need a deeper understanding from which a professional explanation can be derived.
Did you feel that processing the information for teaching opened another path for you? Did this enhance your ability to understand aquatic training? Will you continue this path further?
Normalization. As human beings, we adapt to deal with reality. When we experience an unconventional situation for an unknown term, we produce a new, seemingly normal, routine that allows us to function properly. As instructors, we always encounter unexpected situations. It might be the music not working, the water is too cold, the exercise is not working as planned, or we don’t have the expected energy level. Think about how you deal with unexpected situations.
Do you freeze and have difficulty continuing, or do you give it quick attention and move on? Do you stop everything until the situation is settled? Do you act in a certain way in these moments? Has the recent period taught you anything in this regard? What do you do to make things "normal" again?
Adjustment and capability are terms I want to discuss together. In the first quarantine, our lives were surprisingly interrupted. After a while, we began to understand that we were at the beginning of a new road, not knowing what the future holds. From this point, everyone decided how to promote and adapt to the new situation during this period of adjustment. By capability, I mean rehabilitation from an existing condition. In the field of fitness, I would define it as "recovery". Along with physical fitness components, there are also mental fitness components that help us persevere and achieve accomplishments. Recovery is an important feature in every matter in life. Think about your recovery in the field of fitness or in the personal field.
How would you define your ability to rehabilitate and recover? How do you help yourself recover? Are you satisfied with this process or are you interested in improving it? As an aquatic instructor, which situations require your recovery, physically or mentally, and what tools help you do so?
Discover and recognize how the questions in this article are reflected in your daily life – as instructors, as people. What things did you discover for yourself during this period, and would you like to adopt for the long-term? What things would you like to strengthen and what would you like to release?
Along with the concepts mentioned and the “spirit” that encouraged action, awakening, recovery, and paving new paths, the aspects of stopping and resting are no less important. These are probably less natural for people whose great love is to guide and to train but they are integral and important to a well-balanced life. Alongside doing and striving forward, achieving goals, and constantly running (on land or water), keep listening to signals that ask for a rest or signs that require a stop. Respect those signals!
I hope that you grow and progress from any challenging period or situation and know how to manage in the best way for you. By reaching out, we can help one another. So, please, feel free to share your thoughts!
Einat Meiri Vatner, MA, is an aquatic fitness instructor in Israel certified by AEA and BECO aqua college and the owner of Aqua & Move Israel. She specializes and loves high-intensity workouts as well as exercises based on dance movements and rhythms, as if these two represent the two parts within herself. She instructs various populations including children, pregnant women, and athletes.