by Mark Grevelding, AEA E-News Editor
People often confuse AEA Membership with AEA Certification but they are not the same thing. In a member based, non-profit association, such as AEA, membership support is what funds the services an organization provides. The Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) serves the industry through certification and education. Our ability to serve is dependent upon membership support.
To really get your arms around the impact of AEA Membership you have to understand what membership support has enabled. Over the past 26 years, AEA Membership has made possible the evolution of the world's most respected and recognized aquatic fitness certification. AEA Membership created a need for member networking and education. It was the driving force behind AEA branded education and the creation of the largest, aquatic fitness specific conference - the International Aquatic Fitness Conference (IAFC), which celebrates 27 years in 2014. Membership also created the need for AKWA Magazine, the industry's only aquatic fitness publication, as well as the AEA website, which serves both fitness professionals and consumers by providing the industry's most comprehensive information and educational resources. These are just a few of the more prominent impacts membership has made. Numerous member services have been created, evolved, added and changed over a span of three decades.
Yes, it is hard to believe that AEA Membership has been around since early 1987. After doing a search for some of the earliest members, I came across three of the very first AEA Members who are still members today - Gaily Warren, Edie Terry and Terri Mitchell (AEA Trainer). There are many others who became members in late 1987, as well as 1988 and beyond who are still members today.
Once membership was established, the need for a networking newsletter was soon realized. Hence, The AKWA Letter was launched in May 1987. The AKWA Letter served as AEA's official publication and many years later would become AKWA Magazine.
The first advertisements for AEA Membership found in the earliest publications of The AKWA Letter reveal membership incentives that included The AKWA Letter, low cost insurance, product/event discounts and networking opportunities. The cost for a one-year professional membership in 1987 was $30.00. However, the industry was still in its infancy then and according to Angie Proctor, AEA's Executive Director, most people became members back then because they wanted to be a part of an organization that was legitimizing aquatic exercise and changing the way people exercised in the water. "Ruth Sova used to call AEA the 'chamber of commerce for the water fitness industry' and people joined because they wanted to be a part of the network," says Proctor.
Flash forward 26 years and AEA Membership is still the premiere network of like-minded individuals dedicated to changing the way people exercise in the water. Only now our industry is no longer in its infancy, instead we are positioned to take a leading role in serving the exercise needs of an expansive aging population. AEA is still the chamber of commerce for water fitness; in essence a mother ship surrounded by a fleet of supporting professionals, sponsors, vendors, providers and affiliated organizations - collectively known as the aquatic fitness industry
Membership support still drives the services that AEA provides - but it is safe to say that many people don't know the extent of member services and benefits available to them. While writing this article, I came across really helpful tools in the Members Only area of the website that I didn't even know existed.
For this reason, I have chosen to detail it all out for you in an AEA Membership Road Map - the consummate summary - AEA Membership 101.
AEA MEMBERSHIP 2013
AKWA Magazine has long been the crown jewel in an AEA Membership, providing AEA Members with the only magazine dedicated exclusively to aquatic fitness professionals and enthusiasts. AKWA Magazine is published six times a year and has a readership of 15,000 people. Each issue has a targeted focus, such as deep water, baby boomers or special populations; and each issue features articles relating to this targeted focus, as well as regular columns and features. In 2011, AEA achieved another member milestone by putting a digital version of AKWA Magazine in the Members Only area of the website. Read more about this below.
AEA boasts the most educated instructor base because it offers over 60 weekend events a year, in addition to regional conferences and IAFC. This provides AEA certified instructors plenty of opportunities to participate in live educational events. AEA certified MEMBERS also save significant amounts when registering for these events. An AEA Member will save $10.00 on one 3-hour workshop and $90.00 on an IAFC registration. Discounts are offered on all AEA events and select provider events.
AEA Members enjoy 20% discounts on all AKWA Shop purchases and AEA Online Educational Programs. Can't make it to an event? AEA now makes accruing required CECs more affordable and convenient with an entire section of online education on the website. The AKWA Shop, AEA's online store, features a vast collection of DVDs, music CDs, home study programs, books, voice over CDs and more. AEA Members also receive discounts from select sponsors and vendors, on everything from swimwear to equipment to stereo systems and much more. The newly launched AKWA E-Resource Guide now provides members with a one-stop shop for all of their aquatic fitness needs. Read all about the NEW exclusive member's shopping directory in the Summer E-News.
AEA WEBSITE - MEMBERS ONLY
In 2000, AEA launched their website and every year since it seems as if new milestones are created with new technology. In 2006, AEA introduced the Members Only area of their website and it is here that new milestones will continue to be created. This area of the website can only be accessed by logging in with a user name and password. New member? Simply create a user name and password. Forgot your password? Just hit Retrieve Password. Can't remember your User Name? Contact AEA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Members Only area of the website is without a doubt the most overlooked, yet useful, service and benefit to members. For this reason, I have detailed below the services offered in the Members Only area of the website.
MEMBERS ONLY: AKWA ONLINE
The first stop in the Members Area is AKWA Online, which contains FIVE subcategories: AKWA Extra, E-AKWA, Class Construction, Management and AKWA Quizzes. Let's take a quick peak at each of these categories.
1. AKWA EXTRA
AEA is fortunate to have many contributing authors, submitting a variety of articles and AKWA Magazine Editor, Julie See, saves a couple of author submissions each issue of AKWA to be posted online in AKWA Extra. Typically she posts articles in AKWA Extra if they have a lot of photos which are viewed better on the website, or she posts items that make a great printout, such as choreography or resource tools.
Currently in AKWA Extra you will find an article by Mel Sparks, part of the Aquatic Arsenal series that features shoulder exercises with corresponding photos. There is also an excellent choreography pictorial by two of IAFC's international presenters, Vanina Delfino and Oksana Mukosyeyeva, featuring kickboard exercises for shallow water and creative ideas for buoyant hand bars. Every issue of AKWA, new articles, resources and easy-to-follow choreography printouts are added to AKWA Extra.
COMING SOON! An article supplement to AKWA Magazine's Nutrition Update, called Dine Online with Sara Glassman. It will be posted online in AKWA Extra, every two months starting with the October/November 2013 issue. This AKWA Extra exclusive will feature nutrition topics and recipes by chef and author Sara Glassman, who specializes in plant-based organic dining with her business, Vine Dining. In addition, Glassman will also author nutrition articles targeting aquatic enthusiasts, which will appear every other month in the Healthy News section of the AEA website.
The digital version of AKWA Magazine, E-AKWA, is posted in this section. This online version is interactive, allowing readers to click directly onto advertiser's websites. Launching a digital version of AKWA Magazine in 2011 allowed AEA to create a new, more affordable membership option - E-Membership - for $48.00 a year, instead of the standard yearly PRO Membership fee of $68.00. However, many people still love their hands-on magazine and for just an extra $20.00, six home delivered issues are well worth the extra cost. However, just a little tidbit - the digital version of AKWA usually posts 2-3 weeks before the magazine hits mailboxes, so if you are chomping at the bit waiting for your AKWA Magazine, you can always log on and see if the digital version has been posted yet.
3. CLASS CONSTRUCTION
Class Construction features ready-to-use aquatic program ideas for your pool. This choreography lab, available exclusively to AEA Members, includes detailed notes of choreography, resistance training and/or stretches along with specifics on water depth, equipment and music suggestions. The Class Construction files can be downloaded directly on to your computer, allowing you to slice, dice, add, delete and adjust the file to suit your teaching needs and style. You can also adjust the font, add in cues and then print the files and bring directly to your classes as a teaching outline. Julie See's top rated IAFC session, D.E.E.P, was recently added to Class Construction. A new choreography lab/program is added with every new issue of AKWA. This section may also include additional video clips, exercise pictures and/or cue cards to assist you with your aquatic programming.
NEW! Some of IAFC's top rated sessions will continue to appear in the Class Construction series, including my session, Aquatic Layers, which will be added with the release of the August/September issue of AKWA Magazine.
4. AKWA MANAGEMENT
Whether you supervise others or simply manage yourself and your time, this section is dedicated to you. From motivation, to leadership, to management, a new and provoking article is added to this area of the website every issue of AKWA.
5. AKWA QUIZZES
AEA Members receive exclusive access to online AKWA quizzes - each worth 1.0 AEA CEC. Many instructors utilize these quizzes when they are just one or two credits shy of their required 15 CECs. Pro Members pay $10.00 per quiz submittal and Elite (two year) Members get up to five quiz submittals free - a $50.00 value. A two-year AEA Elite Membership is $110.00, compared to the one-year AEA Pro Membership, which is $68.00. In other words, use those five free quiz submittals and you scored a two-year membership for just $60.00.
MEMBERS ONLY: CLASS TIPS
This section features even more ideas to add to your classes, training sessions or self-directed workouts. Industry professionals share monthly tips for cardio, toning and stretching. AEA Trainer, Jackie Lebeau, currently has her favorite tips posted and in August, AEA Trainer, Lori Templeman's training tips will be featured.
NEW! Starting in September, the ladies from Triple Delight will take over the Class Tips section for the next 12 months, sharing their favorite aquatic fitness exercises. Linda Grymes, Jeannie Brown Johnson and Erica Wilson (Triple Delight) combine 30 years of experience in all aspects of group fitness. Look for special features on everything from deep-water to kickboxing to body conditioning and much more.
MEMBERS ONLY: RESOURCES
NEW! This section will be home to the new AKWA Resource Guide, an exclusive new shopping directory for members. The AKWA Resource Guide contains over 75 vendor listings of everything and anything to do with aquatic fitness, including apparel, swim wear, shoes, all types of equipment and much more. Log in and shop online with this comprehensive resource guide.
Read more about the guide in E-News coming out July 21, 2013.
Also included in this section are useful forms and templates that can help you manage your fitness business, including sample consent forms, evaluations, comment cards and more. Struggling for a name or description for your aqua fitness class? There is even a form that provides a list of names and descriptions for aquatic fitness classes.
QUICK TIPS DVD EDUCATION
This is the most recently added feature in the Members Only area. Added in 2012, this section features FREE aquatic fitness videos for AEA Members, providing yet another opportunity to bring ideas directly to your classes. Sometimes you just gotta see it to understand it and this section is already one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the AEA website. Currently, three video clips are shown at a time, featuring industry leaders demonstrating a variety of aquatic fitness programming. The video clips, rotated on a regular basis, are shorter in length but jam-packed with action. This section is merely in its infancy with lots of growth expected in terms of providing more visual services to members.
THE FUTURE...WHAT IS COMING?
AEA Member support has never been more crucial than the present. Our business is education and training; the business of education and training is rapidly changing with advances in technology. To stay current and to provide our members, certified instructors and aqua enthusiasts (consumers) the very best in education and training - and to fulfill the exciting visions we have for the near future, membership support will be essential.
So what are these visions? How do we hope to evolve and serve our members? What's coming? Well, for starters we are exploring AKWA Online educational webinars and live Q&A sessions - earning CECs intimately with some of the industry's most respected leaders. You can expect continued expansion into the realm of video education and choreography brought directly to you by FREE members only video clips. Additionally, affordable DVDs, video downloads and exercise tutorials will be available for both professionals and consumers.
Aquatic fitness education for consumers, aqua enthusiasts - OUR STUDENTS - whatever you want to call them, will be elevated in priority over the next few months and the coming years as pools continue to fill with an expected surge in aquatic exercise participation. Be sure to read all about the 2013 AEA Membership Drive in this E-News, as our students can also benefit from a membership with AEA, particularly with the addition of the AKWA E-Source Guide, which will provide a member with a one-stop shopping guide for swim suits, shoes, gloves, belts and more - all at member discounted prices!
Nearly 30 years ago, Ruth Sova, current president of the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute, incorporated AEA. Ten years later, Angie Proctor and Julie See, took over the leadership helm and rapidly expanded AEA into an international organization, evolving aquatic fitness and solidifying AEA's reputation as the undisputed leader in aquatic fitness and education.
The mission has remained the same for the past three decades. Simply put, AEA is a not-for-profit educational organization committed to the advancement of aquatic fitness worldwide.
There is no doubt that amazing strides have been made, but there is still much to do. We are asking for your help in supporting the mission by supporting AEA Membership. If you are not a member, please become one. If you are a member, we thank you for your support and we are asking you to sponsor new members during our membership drive.
Read all about the 2013 Membership Drive in the next E-News. Just one form - handed out by thousands of instructors in their classes - could lead to hundreds of new members in our aqua family. And with this doubling of support would come a doubling of exciting new services provided to you - our loyal members!
Please help us change lives by changing attitudes and changing the way people exercise in the water. AEA & Water. Changing Lives Wetfully Worldwide!