September 16th marked the passing of Ouida Selby – one of the industry’s most passionate, dedicated, and enthusiastic instructors. You may have seen Ouida hosting an AEA Weekend event, working Crew at IAFC, or teaching an Arthritis Foundation training.
Diagnosed with a degenerative disk disease in 1993, Ouida was told she would be on medication the rest of her life. Unhappy with the diagnosis, she started working in the water and began her own rehabilitation program at a local health and fitness club. This helped manage her condition and she has been in love with water exercise ever since.
After being recruited by her instructor, Ouida became AEA Certified in 1995 and began teaching her own classes. In 2000, Ouida got a job as an instructor at California Family Fitness. She was quickly promoted to Club Coordinator, then to Aqua Fitness Group Coordinator for all the clubs around the Sacramento area. During this time, Ouida would openly share her resources and ideas. The aquatic exercise program quickly became cutting edge. Ouida would be involved with everything from equipment and stereo purchases, maintenance, and even assisted in pool design for each new club. She was passionate about fitness education and mentoring - always recruiting new instructors. She pushed herself and all who worked with her to attend workshops and share what they learned with those who couldn’t attend. Her efforts created an educated and cohesive team.
A proud supporter of AEA, Ouida was a hostess for several AEA Weekend Events. Utilizing her skills from her event planner days – the events ran smoothly and efficiently like a well-oiled machine. Presenters loved her events because they were well organized and plenty of staff was on hand to assist with anything they needed. Due to these hosting skills, resources, and enthusiasm, she earned the title of AEA Ambassador. These individuals assist in organizing aquatic events in the region and educate members and the community on why they should take their workouts to the pool.
Ouida could also be seen poolside at IAFC helping out as a Crew member. Attendees would see her smiling face, ready to assist as needed. Many international friendships were formed as Ouida became a well-known part of the AEA Family.
In 2009, Ouida expanded her role in the industry as Reginal Director for the Arthritis Foundation. She supported the AF programs by aiding facilities and presenting instructor trainings.
In 2010, Ouida was diagnosed with breast cancer. That did not prevent her from attending HYDRO-FIT Academy in 2010 with the same enthusiasm as always. Despite her limitations, she would enjoy every minute spent in the pool and the refreshment gained by seeing her friends. Sometimes treatment and recovery would prevent her from getting into the water. I remember her joy when she finally got clearance to begin aquatic therapy after her treatment. The water was her favorite place to be.
In 2014, the cancer had come back and metastasized to her bones. To help with expenses, California Family Fitness hosted a benefit to raise money for Ouida. This special aquatic masterclass had over 100 attendees and enough money was raised for Ouida to return to Tennessee and live with her family.
Fast forward to 2016, when Ouida made her return to IAFC. She was overjoyed to be there and expressed how good it felt to see her AEA family again and spend time in the water. She was surprised how good she felt, despite the physical exertion.
Ouida was a great colleague and very special friend. Her legacy lives on through the hundreds of participants and instructors she has recruited and educated about the benefits of exercising in the water. With a name that literally means “Water Baby”, Ouida had found her true calling.
Below are some thoughts from other friends and colleagues:
“My memories of Ouida are 100% joy! When she first invited me to Sacramento to teach workshops for California Family Fitness I immediately felt a warm friendship with Ouida. All our hosts are wonderful but Ouida was especially enthusiastic, vivacious, and totally dedicated to educating the aqua instructors. What a gem! She was always so giggly and truly enjoyed every minute of her water exercise experience. I had several very enjoyable trips to Sacramento and I will treasure those memories.”
“I had the privilege and honor of working with Ouida in her role as an AEA Ambassador. She was THE aqua voice of Northern California. No one, absolutely no one, hosted AEA workshops better than Ouida. From the set-up, to the promotion, to the implementation, she was a woman in charge. The Aqua Nation has lost a passionate soldier and supporter.”
-Mark Grevelding, AEA Training Specialist & Fitmotivation Founder
“I'm sure each of you experienced your own good times with
Ouida and cherish fond memories of them, as I do. Yes, we have lost one of our own and it hurts.”
– Craig Stuart
“I first met Ouida when she was an IAFC convention assistant around a pool some place- dressed as a flamingo! Ouida is a wonderful example of a selfless kind person who was always upbeat, positive and smiley despite her poor health. Her smile is the lasting memory - a wonderful lasting memory.”
“Ouida touched many of our lives. K2 remembers her as a beautiful woman, strong and happy. Never worried about herself but always there to help others. She was an amazing staff person and she shined all last IAFC.”
- Katrien Lemahieu
“For me, it's simple; Ouida was truly genuine. I am so glad we had her with us this past year at IAFC. She will be sorely missed.”
– Debra Zimmerman
“One of my best memories with Ouida was a themed class we taught called “Pumping Up”. We dressed up as Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live. The costume comprised of gloves, boots, a deep water belt, and fiber-fill “muscles” stuffed inside our sweats. The workout was a strength class and we taught with Austrian accents. This class went on tour to seven different clubs and it improved each time. She loved themed classes. The first day we met during my interview, once she found out I was a “theme person”, we became instant friends!
When I’m teaching, I’ve come to realize just how many cues and programming ideas have come from Ouida. She was a true role model for many and I will miss her.”
- Lori Templeman
Donations can be made to the Ouida Selby Memorial Fund: