Instructor Spotlight: How I’m Overcoming My Fear of Swimming

Posted by Teresa Whitcomb on 10/11/18 6:30 AM

Eva and Instructor Emily Norek_RT

I’ve been itching to interview Mariela Doyle for some time.  Her journey at Cornerstone – from member to Group Fight instructor – is both interesting and inspiring.  So, when we last crossed paths and she mentioned that she recently started taking private swimming lessons at our Warrington club, I was intrigued by her latest fitness choice. A few weeks later, as we sat chatting in the Doylestown Café, she graciously agreed to share her story.

finding a comfort zone as a new Cornerstone member

When Mariela joined Cornerstone in 2013, she felt that she was weak in every respect.  “I was really self-conscious. I started working out on my own but when I wasn’t getting anywhere, I decided to take some classes.  I couldn’t do sit-ups or push-ups but I never felt left out because I couldn’t do something.  I never felt like I didn’t belong in class. Nobody made me feel like I was slacking, so I stuck with it.”

It was at this point in Mariela’s story that the two of us met. I remember very clearly the first few times this lovely, bright-eyed, enthusiastic member with an incredibly warm personality came to my Group Fight class. Group Fight is a mixed martial arts class that incorporates elements from boxing, Tae Kwan Do, Karate, Muay Thai and other disciplines into a dynamic one-hour cardio, strength and agility tour de force. 

Fight ClassAccording to Mariela, “I started taking Fight and fell in love with it.”  She loved it so much she decided she wanted to teach it.  Her commitment to just “doing it” led to her certification in 2017.  So, in 4 short years, she went from someone who considered herself “weak” and couldn’t do a push-up to an instructor of one of our most challenging programs. I was, and still am, bowled over by her fearlessness and determination to go outside of her comfort zone.

Mariela Takes the Plunge - Outside Her Comfort Zone

It was this trait – a willingness to go outside her own comfort zone – that also led her to sign up recently for private swimming lessons in our Warrington club. According to Mariela, she had never learned to swim as a child and almost drowned when she was 26 years old.  “I couldn’t overcome the fear from that event.”  A mother of two young children, Nicholas, age 6 and Eva, age 3, Mariela wanted something different for her kids. She wanted them to learn how to swim for their safety and also so that they could grow up learning to enjoy the water in a way she wasn’t able to while growing up.

Nicholas_RTFirst, she started with a few “Mommy and Me” classes with Nicholas. “But I had to stop because he could feel my fear of the water because I couldn’t swim.  Other moms would take their kids out to slightly deeper water, but I couldn’t do that.  I felt I wasn’t helping.” Sometime later, she enrolled both children in small group swim lessons. “There are only 3 kids allowed in each class so lessons are very individualized and kids get a lot of special attention.  Also, the instructors don’t use attached flotation devices. Because kids are only allowed to hold onto a floating item, they learn to float on their own faster.”  Her kids were making great progress in their lessons, but they knew that she was still afraid of the water.

At this point, Mariela decided to take the “plunge” herself. For the sake of her children’s safety, she felt it was important that she learned to swim. And, almost as importantly, she wanted to be able to enjoy the water with her kids. After explaining her history to Warrington General Manager Janelle Coller, Janelle matched her to the right instructor.  Mariela started lessons a few months ago with instructor Jan Yerkes Roop. 

“Jan is an amazing instructor.  She makes you feel confident.  She pushes me forward, but not farther than I feel comfortable with.  When I’m with her, I feel confident and I’m definitely getting over my fears. I’m so happy I did this. All of us – the kids and myself – are making great progress.”

If you’d like to meet Mariela, you can find her teaching Group Fight every other Sunday at 9 a.m. in Doylestown.

If you are interested in private or group swim lessons, give us a call about swimming in Warrington at 215.918.5900 or see more information about our aquatics program.

Contact a Membership Advisor About Swimming

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