Who is CALA? 

The Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance Inc. (CALA) is an international, educational organization with a mandate to provide high quality training, certification and access to current information for its members and others in the active living community. Our courses are research based and provide a strong network for aqua fitness leaders, aquatic post rehabilitation specialists, personal trainers and coaches. CALA promotes professionalism and excellence through thoughtful integration of the mind, body and spirit.

Should I consider a CALA Membership and how much are the courses?

There are many benefits of having a CALA Individual or Corporate Membership. Discounted rates on CALA events, merchandise, educational materials, early registrations, and job postings. Course fees are competitive for the of training hours and high quality of the programs; plus you have the option to pay in installment plans - ask us for details!

Is it easy for my facility to HOST A CALA course for instructors or a MASTER CLASS for participants?

Absolutely! It is convenient, easy to organize and facilities have the opportunity to earn $revenue$ and subsidize staff registrations by hosting a CALA event. To receive a full information package, email CALA or call us today.

What happens to my registration when I move?

Contact CALA to make sure their records are current and correct. You CALA certification is valid throughout Canada and Internationally. If you leave the country, you should contact CALA to determine if your membership should be converted to an international membership.

Why do I need to maintain my membership?

Employers are requiring all instructors to be certified. Although membership with CALA is not mandatory to work in all fitness facilities, it is always a benefit to receive professional recognition.

What documentation is required as proof that I attended an approved workshop?

All organizers of CALA-approved workshops must issue a certificate of attendance indicating the number of renewal credits. Receipts will not be accepted.

When do I send my recertification and membership renewal registration information into the CALA office?

CALA will issue a reminder approximately 6 weeks before your membership and recertification are due along with the applicable fees and requirements. Once payment is received you will will receive a membership and recertification renewal confirmation. Please allow 2-3 weeks for this process. Both the membership and recertification are renewed annually on the same anniversary date.

Question Related to Aquafitness and Equipment

Dumbbells vs paddles.  Charlene had responded to this question in this document document.


What type of equipment, music and videos do you sell?

Instructor Ryka Aqua Shoes, Manuals and much more.  Refer to the Merchandise page.

Certification, Renewal, CECs

How do I apply to become a CALA Trainer?

Contact the CALA office. Someone from CALA will contact you directly to discuss upcoming Trainer training sessions.  Learn how to become a CALA Certified Trainer

What are the benefits of getting certified as a CALA Leader?

What are the steps to become CALA Certified to teach Group Aqua fitness?

A. Attend a CALA Foundations of Vertical Water Training – The Kopansky Method Course followed by the CALA Group Aqua Fitness Leadership Training Specialty Course

B. Successfully complete an OPEN BOOK Theory Exam after completion of the Foundations Course

C. Successfully complete a 30 minute practical assessment (receive 1:1 personalized feedback) and a Group Aqua Fitness Assignment

D. Maintain CALA Membership in good standing

What are the other specialties and programs that CALA offers?

Do you offer CEC’s?

CALA Events are eligible for Continuing Education Credits (CEC’s) / Professional Development Credits (PDC’s) / Renewal Credits with a variety organizations including LSS, CanFitPro, OFC, AFLCA, NSFA, SPRA, BCRPA, YM/YWCA.. See the website for full list.

Can I add specialty designations, such as Water Running or Kick Box?

CALA offers a number of specialty courses that you can become certified in. Check out the specialty courses under Training and Events.

How often do I have to renew my registration?

You must renew your CALA certification annually. To certify you must have earned 8 CECs and pay an administration fee.

How do I find out about upcoming workshops?

Visit the Upcoming page.  All CALA workshops, courses and conferences are posted immediately on the CALA website on the Upcoming page. If you don't see what you are looking for, please contact CALA. We are welcome new host facilities.

If I accumulate more than the minimum number of renewal credits, may I use my extra credits for the next registration period?

Yes, CALA banks your CECs. You can use them towards future recertification.

How do I apply for recertification credits from a non-CALA event?

Forward a copy of the workshop outline, length of the workshop and biography of the presenter to the CALA office for review. We will send you a confirmation of credit approval (receipts will not be accepted). An administration fee will be applied. 

What if I can't complete my recertification requirements before my expiry date?

CALA keeps a record of all your earned and used CECs. You can take them anytime during the year. Once you have enough CECs you can stop earning them for that year. Any additional CECs earned during that year will be applied to the next period.

Where do I find music?

There are many sources of fitness music: Power Music, Muscle Mixes and Dynamix, to name a few. Many music companies offer discounts at fitness conferences.  Contact individual companies to receive their catalogues.


Classes / Choreography

What are some of the Aquafit class:

How do I know what bpm I should use:

When should I use 1/4, 1/2, T, 2XT

I do I choose the music for the class

Are Aquafit class staff for everyone





Do I need Fitness Instructor Insurance?

Yes.  You must have insurance prior to accepting any Aquafit Instructor positions. Check with your employer to find out if you are covered under their insurance. I If you aren't you must carry your own. At all times you must carry proof of insurance. You may be asked to show proof of your insurance before a facility will allow you to teach.

First Aid CPR

What happens if someone gets hurt in my class or during a training session?

Follow your CPR/First Aid training and facility procedures, document what happened.

What level of CPR and First Aid is required?

CALA does not require you to have CPR and First Aid training but your place of employment may have this as a condition of employment.

End of General Questions and Answers. 

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Portable Sounds Systems:


Ask the Seahorse: I am in need of a radio to use on deck but it must be water/moisture resistance along with the usual CD player, radio, tape. Can you suggest where I can purchase this item. Someone mentioned to me that some instructors put rubber stoppers on the connectors or plugs to protect them...


Suggestion provided by: CALA Certified Instructor, Suzanne.. If you inquire at the stores, they’ll know the best products. In my experience, I’ve used various products—one huge boom box that was water resistant but eventually failed after years of use (depends on number classes, moisture in air, must be cleaned regularly)—one pool was salt water and over the summer months (when we weren’t there) we found a salt residue on our equipment in the fall when we returned (so I covered my boom box during subsequent summers)—I’ve stored smaller boom boxes in a closed container for protection, stored in locked shed, and this worked— The BEST means of playing music for me now is my Bose ($300) and ipod ($250) which is portable for all my classes (no need to plug it in, CDs get scratched and can no longer be used, so it’s best to download CDs, make playlists on ipod—can delete songs you don't like, on each CD). The biggest challenge is finding a boom box that plays an ipod (some instructors use these, and in my opinion, this is the ONLY way to go), but others use CDs, so I need a boom box at each of my 7 pools that plays both, and this is sometimes hard to find. You can also purchase a connector which you can plug into a boom box and your ipod (if it only plays CDs). With Sony closing its doors, you might also find some sales right now. Hope this is helpful.


 regarding anaerobic training in the water: What are the work:rest ratio times? I know for land, depending it can be 1:3 or 1:4. I was reviewing the deep water vertical manual and it says in the back 1:3 however I wasn't sure with venous return and water properties if the ratios changed as compared to land.


 I have been promoting 1:6 as a ratio. I hope that helps.


Wow. So, to confirm, if the participants are working anaerobically for 30 sec they rest 3mins. I was thinking a shorter rest time with venous return etc.


If you are working to improve V02max... 1;6 and the interval might be 15 seconds max... max effort.  if you are working to improve LT, then 1:4 might be more appropriate or 1:3


I need your advice. In one of my aqua fit classes, I have 2 participants (different classes) who are experiencing leg cramps. One participant in particular gets the leg cramp when she does the standing quadriceps stretch. She says that she never gets the cramp on land when she does the same stretch but she always gets a cramp (leg) in water. She has experienced this for the past few classes so now she does not do this particular stretch. Would you know why she is getting this cramp and how to avoid it? Thanks, Pavla (CALA Certified Leader)


There are several possible reasons for hamstring cramps during a quadriceps stretch. I will list some causes and cautions below, do let me know what works for your participants, after you suggest the following options.
Firstly, I am assuming you are doing the standing quad stretch, during the stretch portion at the end of the class.
(a) If the water temperature is on the ‘cool’ side (less than 84° F), thermal conductivity may cause the hamstring muscle to lose heat. As the quads are stretched, the hamstrings are activated. If the hamstrings are too cold, then there is a strong possibility that a cramp will result.
I suggest integrating dynamic stretching of the quad muscles, rather than a static standing stretch. This will keep the quad and the hamstring muscles warm and may avoid the cramping.
(b) If the participants have not generated enough heat in their skeletal muscles during the ‘workout’ phase of the class, then the hamstring muscles may not be warm enough, when the standing quad stretch is performed.
I re-iterate the strategy above (a) and also suggest that you consider educating the two participants (possibly before or after the class) about how to elevate their body temperature by exercising at a higher effort level. You can demonstrate options for them to make the workout harder to generate more kinetic energy resulting in more body heat. * This is assuming the participants are healthy enough to exercise at an appropriate level of intensity to generate heat.
(c) Check to be sure that the participants are in a relaxed state of mind, body and spirit during the stretch. This can be facilitated my your tone and volume of voice, and the music you use. Remind them to deep breathe, and especially to relax their fingers and hands, toes and feet. From time to time, participants try to grip the floor with their toes and the bottom of their feet. This action might facilitate a chain of tension through the feet, the calves and then into the hamstring muscles.
(d) If your participants are having a hard time maintaining their balance during the standing quad stretch, this might cause the hamstring muscles to activate involuntarily. Encourage participants to hold on to the wall or use one hand/arm under water in a sculling action to maintain balance and to generate heat.
(e) Add a dynamic vertical repeater quad kick/ham curl movement for 16 – 32 repetitions to warm up the muscle pair, then to the standing quad stretch. Repeat on the other leg.
Charlene Kopansky, CALA Founder and President


Aqua Running:

I want to know if there is a difference between Aqua Running and Aquajogging. Is Aqua Running more specific? I know that "to jog" and "to run" are very different, but, in the water, these differences may seem superfluous.

Answer by Charlene Kopansky:

When I co-wrote the resource and training manual for this specialty course, the team of writers decided that both joggers and runners would benefit from the training effects of exercising in water. To avoid minimizing the market, we decided to include both 'names' in the manual. When training in deep water, zero impact, the biomechanics of running and jogging are very similar. There is no ground reaction force when running in deep water hence the actual running form is modified to suit the aquatic environment. The good news is that the specificity of training remains high, from water to land. If on the other hand, one is training in chest or shoulder deep water, there is impact involved and this affects the biomechanics of water running and aqua jogging. Get into deep water, with an appropriate flotation belt and try simulating the jogging action and the running action. How does it feel? What changes did you make to the biomechanics of your movements? Try the same experiment in chest deep water. Try running at a race pace, what happens to the landing phase of your movement?

Question :

I have a degree in Kinesiology. I have never heard of double positive muscle activation. Could you explain more about it?

Answer from Charlene CALA Founder and President:

Thanks for reading the articles on our web site. I also have a degree – Honours Biological Science with my major in Human Kinetics and a degree in Education. The double positive muscle activation refers to the following: When immersed to shoulder depth: performing knee extension and flexion: the quads will activate concentrically during the knee extension phase; the hamstrings will activate concentrically during the knee flexion. This is due to the fact that the 'location of the load changes' - water is all around the body, you are constantly pushing and pulling it (multidirectional resistance). The 'nickname' for concentric muscle action is positive muscle activation. The nickname for eccentric is negative muscle action. The lack of soreness is because of the balanced work: double concentric or double positive. While the quads are working concentrically, on knee extension, the hams are releasing - getting a fresh blood supply - so the lack of eccentric is the same as saying double concentric or double positive. Just a different way of saying the same thing. During our CALA Foundation Course, we do discuss the lack of eccentric muscle work during most movements in water.

Response :

No, it still doesn't make any sense, are you talking cardio component or muscular component? I thought that in order to actually gain muscle strength, you must have a concentric and eccentric phase. I also do not understand the reference to a “release of muscle tension”.


A “Double positive” muscle activation isn’t necessarily  the technical terminology for what happens, but it beats saying “concentric-concentric”. 
B Double positive or “concentric-concentric” muscle activation means that eccentric muscle work is reduced or absent, and therefore, DOMS is reduced or absent.

C There is a "release of muscle tension" when using the opposing muscle group. Refer to the work of Dr. Herman Kabat (mid 1950s), based on the work of Dr. Charles Sherrington. Sherrington’s Laws of muscle activation ‘Reciprocal Innervation / Inhibition”, states, ”a reflex loop mediated by the muscle spindle cell …causes one muscle to relax (be inhibited from contracting) when the opposing muscle (the antagonist) contracts. This allows movement to occur around a joint. For instance, when the quadriceps muscle contracts, the hamstring is reciprocally inhibited, thereby allowing the knee to straighten”. Source: Facilitated Stretching, R. E. McAtee, HK press 1993. If the antagonist did NOT relax when the agonist activated to cause movement, we would be constantly tearing antagonistic muscles, or be locked immobile in isometric cramps.

Re: Your statement: To actually gain muscle strength, you MUST have a concentric AND eccentric phase. This is not true, otherwise, gains in strength could not occur in the water, or with hydraulically braked exercise equipment.


What can be done, when participants concentrate more on conversation than they do on working out?


“I have found one solution to participants talking during class: I have told them to find a place where they have a lot of room to manoeuver. Once they know the movements, I tell them to close their eyes and concentrate on that movement and on their stability. I have found that this makes participants work harder because they are more aware of when they start to get lazy. Every so often, they can open their eyes to make sure they are not getting too close to each other and/or the edges of the pool. This technique really does make a difference. I have tried it and it works! Not everyone is closing their eyes when I ask them to. I think that with time they may get to like the challenge it offers. It may be fear of the unknown that is holding some of my participants back. My reason for using this technique for myself was to experience the session the way a blind person would. I could not believe how much harder I worked and how aware I was of every movement. Doing this exercise allows the mind to rest and as a result, tension seems to leave the body.
Why not try it yourself, then try it with your participants - the mouth stops, the mind focuses and the physical results are amazing.”


Exercise Design for Breast Cancer:
I have several participants who are recovering from Breast Cancer treatment that involved varying degrees of tissue removal. The mobility in the upper body is affected, especially in the shoulder, upper back, arm and chest regions. What exercises would you recommend?


Any and all CALA arm movements are great, since they provide a variety of joint angles and forces for the arms and shoulder girdle. Emphasize a 'scapular-set' for all upper body exercise: roll the shoulders up then back, then down, and fix the scapulae (shoulder blades) low and centred toward the mid back. This is the strongest, most functional position for upper body work. The thing that needs to be emphasized for Breast Cancer clients is FULL range of motion of the shoulder joint, so the stretch section at the end of class could be increased if water temperature allows. Do a number of slow stretches overhead, interspersed with shoulder girdle adduction and abduction (round the shoulders & rotate the humerus inward, then pull the shoulder blades together, open the chest, and rotate the humerus outward by pointing the thumbs back). They could also be given some extra stretches to be done in the shower. An excellent one is to stand with your hip next to a wall (your feet parallel to the wall), and with a straight arm, trace a circle on the wall from your hip at the front ... all the way your hip at the back. Standing close to the wall is more advanced, standing farther from the wall is a gentler stretch.


What kind of quad stretch do you recommend for people with knee problems? They cannot really bend the knee too much, let alone grab the ankle.


In chest deep water, have the participant stand in a ski position (one leg forward, one back), then cue the following:
• pull forward with the arms using a unison breast stroke movement, so the body is balanced over the front leg of the ski stance,
• lean forward slightly in the torso, and bring the back foot off the pool floor,
• then, bring that same heel up toward the surface of the water. No need to hang on to the heel. Note: Buoyancy will help bring the back leg up toward the surface, stretching the hip flexors and quadriceps muscles of the back leg. 

In deep water
• get into a ski position and hold this position,
• press front leg up toward the surface & dorsi-flex ankle (stretching hamstrings, gastrocnemius & soleus of front leg), 
• pull back knee BACK behind hip; back foot up toward surface of water, stretching quadriceps and hip flexors of the back leg,
• scull with hands and arms to maintain vertical balance. After ~10 - 15 seconds, split the stretch further (open the legs). Repeat this 2 - 3X before changing sides. Again, no need to hang on to the back foot. The knee is not in danger of any inappropriate forces.


What does (I am not sure if I remember the term properly) diastasis recti mean?


This is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles during pregnancy. The connective tissue running between the two halves of the rectus muscles softens in response to the hormones of pregnancy (relaxin). If the abdomen is profoundly stretched, the two halves of the rectus muscle will tend to take the shortest route when the rectus abdominis muscles are activated. This means they will tend to move laterally to travel a straight line from the sternum to the pubis,and not have to work over the large expanse of the abdomen. The split can be made worse by doing aggressive abdominal work (ie: crunches on land) once the split has begun. Aqua natal exercise does not place the same forces on the rectus muscles, providing aggressive tucking actions are not performed. Therefore, it is a useful way for women who are experiencing diastasis recti to maintain core strength.