// Perspective - Kerri Parkinson

by Kerri Parkinson

Perspective features the opinions of prominent figures in the fitness industry. Here, Kerri Parkinson, Australian Fitness Network’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, reveals that passion is the key to a long and successful career.

Although I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to write this article, I’ll confess to feeling a little unsure about doing so. Not one for dwelling on past experiences, I usually prefer to look forward to the emerging trends and new developments in our industry. However, the idea of looking back on my 25-year career seemed a fun one, and the memories soon came flooding back.

My love of fitness, and water exercise in particular, prompted my move into the fitness industry in the 1980s. As an avid participant I became stressed out if I ever missed a class, so I decided the best way to ensure I never missed one again was to become an instructor. I figured I was made for it – plus I could get paid for doing what I loved! I often hear stories like this from other instructors as well. Without exception, the best instructors I meet at training courses and conventions such as FILEX are the ones who have a genuine passion for what they do. These are happy, strong, fit individuals and great role models both for their participants and prospective new instructors.

I remember my first day on the instructor course (then called ACHPER), held in a small gym by a railway line on Sydney’s North Shore. I was so excited, but also a little scared about the leap I was about to take. However, when presenter Lexie Williams turned up wearing a pair of Reeboks with the word ‘instructor’ written on the back, I knew for certain what I wanted to be. As the only one wanting to teach water exercise, I was a bit of a fish out of water on that course because everyone else wanted to teach step, new body and aerobics. It seems unbelievable now, but the concept of personal trainers wasn’t even a blip on the radar!

Over the years I have witnessed the professionalism of our industry go from strength to strength. With my personal passion for aquatic exercise, it is very satisfying to see its value recognised. We now have fantastic facilities, great equipment and a variety of programs to suit differing needs and populations. Instructors know and understand the benefits of a safe and resistant workout that offers joint protection along with a great cardio workout – and if this sounds like a sales pitch for aqua fitness, well you bet it is. I’ve plugged this medium for 25 years and I’m not giving up any time soon!

I’ve seen countless fads come and go over the years, but the best innovations stay – and develop with us. With the arrival of a head microphone, for example, group exercise instructors’ arms were finally free to demonstrate moves to participants – thank goodness! The fitness industry may have sprung from passion, but the early days were often a little 'rough around the edges’. So much has changed for the better – better floors, acoustics, state-of-the-art equipment and teaching techniques – and the current generation of instructors has the pioneers of this industry to thank for that.
The Australian fitness industry is world class and our instructors and presenters are in high demand around the globe. Aussie presenters are always there at international conventions and workshops, and I myself have been fortunate enough to present at some of these events over the years. It’s always beneficial to experience a different take on our industry, so if you have the desire to be more than average, set yourself the goal of presenting at FILEX and at other international conventions. Sharing your passion with so many of your peers will be an experience you’ll never forget.

So, with 25 years experience behind me, what advice can I give? To be one of the best, you must be consistent and you must take the time to listen, learn and to share knowledge with your participants and clients. You must walk the talk, especially in your appearance and professionalism. Our industry has worked hard to gain the respect it has now, and as instructors and trainers we are on the front line, the ambassadors for our industry. Every class you teach, be at your best; every client you train, deliver knowledge and motivation as well as results. And above all this, you must be passionate about what you do.


Kerri Parkinson
Australian Fitness Network’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Kerri is a highly regarded and motivational aqua instructor and convention presenter. She presents internationally on all aspects of aqua fitness and is a key program developer for the Australian Institute of Fitness’ aqua course. To contact Kerri, email jumpinjaksplash@optusnet.com.au.

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