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CALA Foundation Course: Aquafitness Leadership Training and Certification

Fee Schedule * CECS * Registration 

Description · Content · Target Audience   Duration · Prerequisites · Recommendations  
Certification · Recertification · Mentoring Program    CECs · Fees · What to Bring · Manual


This comprehensive course includes the essential tools necessary to design and lead safe, effective, holistic aquafitness classes and programs. The course content meets the needs of experienced aquafitness leaders as well as lifeguards, aerobic instructors, personal trainers, coaches, participants and aspiring leaders; and exceeds the Provincial and Federal Guidelines and Standards. This course is a BCRPA approved course, and is recognized by selected YMCA and YWCA facilities and Canadian Universities and Colleges. The course is accredited by many other international, national and provincial fitness organizations. 

On the international scene, the course is available in Germany through "LEAD" and in South Africa through the South African Division of CALA which is housed at the University of Stellenbosch, Sports Science Department.

The course manual is currently available in both French and English. You are welcome to purchase the manual prior to registering for the course. If you do so, the cost of the manual will be deducted from the course fees upon registration.



Option One: Complete the full CALA Foundations of Vertical Water Training - 20 hours
Option Two: Complete the Fast Track CALA Foundations of Vertical Water Training - 8 hours
Option Three: Complete the Letter of Acceptance to Bypass the CALA Foundations of Vertical Water Training 


Foundation Course: Vertical Water Training (20 hours) 

It is highly recommended that course participants complete both Vertical Water Training and Group Aqua Fitness of the Foundation Course: Combined Basic Fitness Theory and Aquafitness Leadership Training and Certification Course.

If you elect to take Vertical Water Training only, of the Pre-Requisite Courses, then you must be a highly experienced and/or certified fitness leader with an excellent working knowledge of applied anatomy, applied physiology, components of fitness, principles of training, use of music as well as exercise and class design.

Vertical Water Training usually extends over one full weekend or may be organized in a variety of ways (one evening per week over a period of several weeks) according to the availability of the facility.

Vertical Water Training participants who feel they need a more in-depth knowledge and practice are welcome to register for the second half of the Foundation Course (Vertical Water Training).

To fully benefit from this learning experience, arrive with lots of enthusiasm, a desire to learn and an open mind.

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Charting The Voyage To Effective Aquafitness Leadership

  • Values clarification and goal setting for professional development

  • Professional code of conduct for leadership

Magical Properties Of Water

  • Unique qualities of water as a training medium: resistance; buoyancy; hydrostatic pressure; thermal conductivity; turbulence

  • Factors altering aquatic work intensity

  • Aquatic exercise design appropriate to various work intensities and depths of water 

  • Exercise safety for the aquafitness participant and leader

Putting The Class Together

  • Aquafitness class format: warm up; cardiovascular endurance; muscle conditioning; stretch and relaxation

  • International CALA movement language for arm, leg and abdominal core exercises

  • Practice creating aquatic exercise routines using the international movement bank

  • Coaching and refinement of leadership skills

Moving To Music

  • Special considerations for the use of music

  • Suitable music tempos for aquafitness exercises and classes

  • Sources of music for aquafitness leadership

  • Practice leading aquafitness routines to music

An Anatomical Approach To Safe Aquatic Exercise Design

  • Aquatic exercise analysis:  primary muscle  movers and stabilizers for international CALA moves

  • Analysis and identification of safety issues with respect to joint biomechanics

  • Practice designing and leading exercises with specific muscle focus

The Aquatic Physiological Perspective

  • Effects of aquatic training and immersion on the body systems

Communication For Excellence In Aquafitness Leadership

  • CALA communication for motivation, education, safety and satisfaction

  • Practice using effective visual and verbal cues during on-deck leadership

  • Practice giving and receiving feedback to improve leadership skills

  • Client - leader communication issues

Setting Sail

  • Mentorship for skill development

  • Professional development and networking opportunities

  • The CALA pathway to certification

  • Personal plan for further skill development

  • Relationship with International, National and Provincial organizations

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Target Audience

  • Fitness participant  with a desire to learn more to enhance personal exercise results

  • Lifeguard and/or swimming instructor

  • Rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation specialist

  • Group fitness instructor

  • Personal trainer

  • Water-lover; enjoys working with people

  • Job seeker; part time job or career change

  • Retiree who has the time and commitment to get fit and possibly lead others


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  • Vertical Water Training is a total of 20 hours

  • A combination of land and water 'activity-based' sessions are complimented with applied theoretical sessions

  • Vertical Water Training is usually offered on one full weekend

  • Some facilities choose to schedule the course differently depending on availability of the pool and classroom

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You must be a current member of CALA to participate in this educational opportunity. You will earn continuing education credits with other organizations (canfitpro for example) by participating in CALA education and training events.


Note: The following are highly recommended, but not compulsory:

  • For Option Two and Three Above: Fitness theory knowledge and leadership experience are preferable if taking Vertical Water Training only

  • For Option Two and Three Above: Knowledge about anatomy and physiology

  • Keen interest in moving, healing and/or exercising in water

  • Willingness to learn through practice and study before, during and after the course

  • Eagerness to achieve a high standard of leadership in a Vertical Water Training Specialty: Aquafitness, Healing Waters: Aquatic Post Rehabilitation, Aqua Arthritis, HydroRider (Aqua Cycling), Water Running, Aqua Yoga, Aqua Kick Box, Aqua Personal Training

  • Openness to learning and embracing new information

  • CPR and First Aid are highly recommended (these qualifications are dictated by the facility you will or are working at)

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Certification Process

Certification usually occurs several weeks after the course although course participants have the option of completing certification immediately following the course. Certification must be completed within one year of taking the course. Certification includes two components:

Theory Component

  • Two and half hours are allotted to write the theory exam
  • This is an 'open book' theory exam. Any written resources that will assist the examinee may be utilized

  • Pass mark is 75%

 Practical Component

  • 30 minute practical assessment
    A 30 minute video may be submitted for the practical assessment, in lieu of having an assessor in person.
    If a video is submitted, the feedback is delivered by the mail in writing, verbal feedback is not generally given with a video assessment

  • Each participant is allotted 30 minutes to complete practical assessment
    15-20 minutes to receive “one-on-one” feedback. The candidate is sent a copy of the completed practical assessment form from the CALA office.

  • Pass mark is 75%

Re-write or Re-assessment

  • Full fee must be paid for Practical re-assessment or Theory exam re-write

Deadline For Completion Of Certification

  • The candidate has one year from the last date of their course to complete the theoretical and practical aspects of certification.

CALA Apprentice Mentor Program

  • CALA offers an Apprentice Mentor Program (CAMP) to assist new leaders in achieving certification upon completion of the course. 
  • The 'CAMP' program is not mandatory in order to achieve certification. However, CALA encourages leaders to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to further develop leadership skills and knowledge prior to engaging in the certification process.

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Continuing Education Credits

  • No CECs are awarded for taking the course the first time

  • If you need a review of the material, you can repeat the course and earn 12 CECs for Vertical Water Training and for Group Aqua Fitness for a total of 24 credits

  • You can also earn CECs with other fitness organizations by completing the CALA course

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Attending CALA Specialty Courses, workshops and conferences and/or re-taking the CALA Foundation Course, will entitle you to earn Continuing Education Credits (CECs). One hour of education (theory and/or practical) earns one CALA CEC. For example: Attend a three hour Aqua Choreography workshop, earn three CALA CECs.

To maintain certification status as an aquafitness leader you must meet the following criteria:

  • Current CALA member, in good standing
  • Gather a minimum of eight CALA CEC's before re-certification date
  • Pay an annual re-certification fee. Refer to the fee schedule (pdf format)

Maintaining Certification Status: Made Easy!

Note: At CALA, we make it easy to maintain certification status as an aquafitness leader. Leaders can "bank" or accumulate CALA CECs before attending the Foundation Course, or completing certification.  If more than eight credits are collected, CALA will bump the extra credits into the next re-certification period.

Petitioning for Credits

Note: In the event that the necessary number of credits are not collected before the certification expiry date, the candidate can petition for credits. This means, CALA will review documentation submitted by the candidate that proves attendance at educational events that enhance fitness knowledge and leadership skills. There is a petition fee applicable. Refer to the fee schedule (pdf format)


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What To Bring

Attendees taking the course with the goal to lead classes will need the following:
  • Proper Aquafitness shoes (The "RYKA 2 Aqua shoe" is available through CALA) or good quality running shoes suitable for the pool deck and dry land movement
  • Shorts to wear over a swimsuit (not short shorts), an aquafitness or an aerobic outfit (one that can get wet) for 'on deck' leadership practice
Attendees taking the course for general (personal) interest:
  • Slip-on water shoes or clean running shoes that can be used in the water
All attendees taking the course will need the following:
  • A couple of swimsuits and towels
  • A water bottle
  • Shoes and comfortable clothing (tracksuit or athletic clothing) suitable for dry land movement
  • Writing materials to take notes
  • A lock to secure valuables
  • Details about any medical information that may be required in case of a medical emergency
  • Food for break times

Bring lots of energy and enthusiasm. Get ready to have fun and learn a lot. Remember - just like a parachute, your mind works better when it is open.


  • The comprehensive CALA Manual used in this "Foundation course" is available for purchase without attending the course. 

  • If you purchase the manual prior to registering for the course, CALA will deduct the cost of the manual from the course fee.

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Web site: Last Update:  April 11, 2020