|'I control it, I don’t let it control me' by Jodie Mastersson|
I wanted to do some study that would help with my illness (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and something that I could utilise to help others. Making the decision to become an Aqua Instructor was made easier after a Leader's Update I attended at Arthritis SA.
I have been volunteering to Arthritis SA for about 7 years, helping people to live with a chronic illness through their Moving Towards Wellness courses and I decided that there must be more I could do. During that particular update a comment was made about volunteers, exercise and specifically in water. From that day, it confirmed what I had been thinking – I am going to become a Fitness Instructor.
So, in December 2009 I applied to TAFE and started my study in 2010 (Aqua and Gym Instructor). Around May / June 2010 there was a break from study whilst we waited to do the practical side of our electives – it was during this break I approached a gym to see if they could give me some on-the-job training and if I could volunteer my time to them whilst studying. I was so fortunate to have two wonderful ladies, Paula and Barb, get me started by letting me watch classes; participate; then taking warm ups and eventually taking a class. I am now employed by that same gym and teach 3-4 classes a week. I currently have 7 employers and I 'float' around to various gyms / swim centres - on an average week I would teach about 6 Aqua classes.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Aqua, predominantly the main one being that Aqua is for 'old people'. It isn't – I have had some young people both male and female do an aqua class and they have thoroughly enjoyed it and had a good work out. I teach every age group, from High School kids right through to the elderly. Exercise is for everyone!
Probably the hardest part about teaching is making sure I take care of my body as well. I have a nurse come to my home once a month and give me my medication through an infusion. Having a chronic illness can have a major impact on your life but if you learn to manage it, find that balance between work; exercise and rest, it is possible not matter what your age (I became an instructor at the age of 40).
I am an Education Volunteer with Arthritis SA and I teach people how to live with a chronic illness through their Moving Towards Wellness course, I also do public speaking for them about Arthritis. This course has taught me how to manage my illness, I control it, I don't let it control me.
I have had numerous leg operations (I lost count after 13) due to my Arthritis and have what I refer to as a 'tune up' on my knees every year – well, because of what I am doing now I haven't had a 'tune up' since 2009 and am pretty happy about that. But, you must remember that balance as well – take care of your body and it will take care of you!
I love teaching, no matter how much of a good or bad day I'm having or how sore I am, going into a class, seeing everyone there, we have a laugh; chat and I enjoy knowing the fact that I am doing something good for everyone there. As an Instructor, the feedback from participants is vital – it lets me know I am keeping them happy, doing my job and it is also a wonderful feeling to be praised for making somebody else feel good. I can't describe it, I just really love what I do and enjoy going to work. I have a beautiful 4 year old daughter Charli (IVF baby) whom is motivation enough to stay healthy.
Since receiving my accreditation I have continued studying by completing an Extreme Aqua course (Bootcamp and Pilates); Better Balance and will do a Strength for Life course in a couple of weeks. I would love nothing more than to do one of Marietta's courses but distance is the main issue – but, one day I will. I have found that Marietta's DVD's are fantastic and have helped me put together better lessons.