Huge demand for video based online training.. Nobody wants to read text online!

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Individual lessons

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“Why every diver can benefit from my online training”

Explained by ..ex-student, sidemount instructor and online course user

Vas Proud
I think that there is a miss-understood difference between a “traditional dive course” and this online video “course”. The products are quite different and it is not valid to compare them “like for like”.

With a traditional course, you are getting a certain amount of contact time with a dive professional and you are relying on them to give you training in the time available. If you have questions, you can ask – but are you taking notes? are you going to remember every word that was spoken? are you going to have a photographic memory for every skill you were shown or the equipment setup you used? If you now have other students on a course (which is the norm), then there is even less time for “you” and you will get a some diluted content and attention.

In my opinion, with the video “course” you are getting a different delivery method which solves a lot of the problems you would get if you only ever had done a traditional course. You can pause, rewind, re-watch and compare yourself over time as you progress. You also get a 1:1 delivery without distractions from other students.

So no one is saying these are a 100% substitute for actual in water training and they are not designed to be. They are designed to be a companion, to be a benchmark and also for you to see what top class instruction looks like so you can judge your own course and instructor!

If you genuinely do not want in water training, or can’t get it, then you can actually do a very good job of training yourself – I have met some people that actually did this very effectively – but this is not for everyone and not something I think that is the point of the video “course” – so you should not compare it like that.

I have taken in water training from Steve and also from some other (even more well-known!) names in diving – and the user experience is different vs. going with the online “course”. However, after four days of side mount essentials, did Steve actually transfer the same volume and quality of what is in these videos? – no way – that is just not possible. And how much did I take in, how much did I remember a year later and was I able to go from warm water, aluminium cylinders to UK, dry suit and steels with ease? – again, no way!

The cost of the video course is way less (around 15% in my case) than the water training for my entry level SM water training – and that is without factoring the costs to get to the UK sites, flying abroad & accommodation. If I then consider my tech SM training, it makes the videos a negligible cost overall.

So my opinion here is just that these are different products and that the value can’t be judged on the same ideas as we have been used to for say a four day training course. Buy the video course – Steve will no doubt refund you if you aren’t happy!

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Watch these three short videos to help get you started

“The only source of knowledge is experience” …Albert Einstein

Article - Effectiveness of video recording divers in training“To video or not to video, that is the question”

Let me start by saying that I use video to record all my students during their training courses. It all comes down to how much quality & value you as the instructor want to add to your courses!? I really believe that if all instructors do not start using video reviewing techniques they will soon find that they will start losing customers and rightly so!! This article is to explain the reasons why I choose to use video and give some tips and tricks on the best ways to do it and how to handle the additional problems and concerns with shooting video while teaching.

As HD video cameras are getting smaller and smaller, plus relatively low cost and easy to use, an instructor these days does not have much choice than to shoot video really… if they do not students will most likely turn up to class with their own cameras, this means the students focus will always be on taking videos/pics for sharing with their friends on YouTube and Facebook rather than what they should really be focusing on, learning to dive correctly. People want memories and they get them by documenting, recording & sharing everything they do or are going to do… “this is a facebook world and we live in!!”

If an instructor did not offer you video recorded feedback during any advanced diver training levels (meaning anything after your open water course). I would advise you not to take training with that instructor… Why, for the simple reason they either do not understand the advantages what video feedback brings or they are not that capable as an instructor to get you looking good enough to be on video, for the level they are training you at!!

Important note: If a diver is just learning to dive for example, doing a discover scuba dive or open water training dive then I would not advise that the instructor uses the video camera, instead they have a professional assistant do the recording.

Advantages of having video feedback;

  • Allows the instructor to give each student detailed critique of their performance after dive; sometimes whilst underwater, if video camera has a LCD screen playback option and you have enough dive time.
  • Students take more interest in their training, i.e they can see if their knee drops or fin blade angle is correct when learning to frog kick or if they are maintaining trim and breathing control when not moving etc…
  • Giving video feedback greatly speeds up the daily learning process, when a diver views their videos they absorb the feedback in their own preferred style.
  • Divers during training perform better as they always think they could at any moment be recorded, so emphasis is on doing skills correctly and performing each well.
  • Students being able to keep the videos after the course is also very important as the student now has a way to review and practice the correct techniques, this helps the student maintain the high standards set during training.
  • Students will play a part in developing their own personalised training materials, which again ensures they continue to dive correctly after training. This is through skill retention as it maybe a few weeks/months after their course before they can dive again, so having videos to review is crucial.
  • Videos provide a cue/reminder that students can use to mentally rehearse and practice skill out of the water …much better than just in front of the mirror.
  • In some cases having the student video record the instructors demonstration, can really add value during the video debriefing session and again for the student to bench mark themselves against the instructor after the course.

Article - Effectiveness of video recording divers in training 2Good example of effective use of video recording;

Let’s look at teaching a diver to backwards kick; usually it takes 2 days to learn this…

  1. Diver receives a thorough briefing including video of the ideal technique & completes dry land simulations of this skill.
  2. Diver then watches a live underwater instructor demonstration of the skill.
  3. Diver then attempts the skill (instructor video records student).
  4. Instructor first demos what the student just did incorrectly and then re-demos what the student needs to change (student video records instructor).
  5. Now the student tries again (instructor video records student).
  6. Rest of dive is completed, without diver having unnecessary repetition and frustration.
  7. Diver reviews both the student and instructor videos on land after the dive and sees what actually happened, leaves then with a clear understanding of what is needed for improvement and skill mastery.
  8. Diver then usually next day, repeats this skill and effectively builds the correct technique as they fully understand what they were doing incorrectly …this maximises there learning curve and training time.

I have found this 8 step method works very well for all skills and the majority of my students are capable of doing some effective back kicking on the 2nd day. Prior to video reviewing I have had much less success and found that it requires a lot more time/dives and much more frustration on both the student & instructor when learning.

Should I video everything..?

No, to be honest this results in too much debriefing time and detracts from what can be efficiently learnt each day. I suggest you apply common sense when wondering how much to shoot and very quickly you will get feedback about this. Best parts to make sure you video are; if say a student has a difficulty with understanding what is expected of them, for example they always do a great valve shutdown exercise but at the end they always forget to check which regulator they are breathing from and how much gas in now in both cylinders.

Instructors need to move with the times!! “Those who can do, those who cannot teach!! Those who can and do are instructors”

All instructors should be comfortable and ready at any time to have any of their skill demonstrations video recorded and later analysed by their students, I think doing this is great as it really raises the bar for instructor demonstrations and for sure levels the playing field for students comparing their skills to their instructors and what actually needs to be mastered “…instructors practice what you preach!!”

Does video recording have much impact on your students/instructors..?

Most students start a course saying they have never seen themselves underwater before, then by the end of training like it so much, that they usually go straight out and buy themselves an underwater video camera. This is also true for every instructor who has come to me for training, they have seen so much value added using video reviewing they also go out and buy a camera, then say they will be using it for all their future courses too.

Why I think video cameras are not used by instructors!?

This article is not a review on different video equipment, so I speak from my 7+ years of video based training and my experience using all the models of GoPro cameras, firstly they are very compact in size, easy to use and not an expensive investment.

Article - Effectiveness of video recording divers in training 3Over the years I have heard a lot of instructors say… “carrying video equipment adds task loading, it’s bulky, gets in the way of diver training, plus it’s expensive!!”

Regarding the “task loading” issue well, to be honest ask yourself who should be the most comfortable and least task loaded underwater during a training dive..? simple the instructor, it’s their job to insure the environment they are training you in, is suitable for the type of training they are conducting and using a small camera at key points during the dive should not be over task loading them, should it!?

Instructors should only teach and make training dives in environments that are conducive to dive training e.g a low visibility dive site (only being able to see 1 metre) is not a suitable dive site for compass/navigation training, actually I would argue there is no point making a dive in those conditions for any reason and for sure it is not safe!! Any instructor that says it’s too expensive to buy video equipment, probably is also charging a low amount or close to nothing for their training courses.

So students reading this please go with someone that offers value in training and they have a solid reputation in the field you’re looking at learning in. If an instructor offers video feedback during training, they will not be worried about others seeing and critiquing there training methods/videos, so they are standing by the training they are offering, which is great 🙂

Video training workshops… Due to many requests; I have decided to offer workshops for divers and instructors on how to effectively use underwater video cameras as teaching tools. Some of the topics covered, setup and storing camera, video features, buoyancy training techniques, what to shoot and when, post dive video analysis and ways to best document and market your dives after training, using your videos. Remember it is all about maximising your teaching effectiveness.

If you have question on this article either email me or contact through facebook. I will do my best to answer each point raised in detail as I am sure this article could have been 10+ pages long and branch off into some many other areas of diver training. If you enjoyed the read and found it useful please say so and please share it with any other divers/instructors you think will benefit from the read. Thanks and stay tuned for my next article, it will be on a very important topic related to technical sidemount diving – that is all I can say for now 🙂

Regards, Steve Martin instructor trainer and Side Mount diving specialist at – (fan page) (website)

“Cheap training comes at a cost, much more valuable than your money”

Article - Sidemount divers going “back” to backmountOkay I know the contents of this article are going to come as a shock for most of you. Please take the time to read this article in full; it may save your back – literally!!

After much debate I finally decided to write this article, as I get an ever increasing amount of emails from divers all over the world, telling me that they have taken training with a sidemount instructor and after training they find sidemount is not working for them, they do not look like the sidemount divers they see in my YouTube videos and that now they are thinking of going back to backmount!!

Before we get into this, I personally do not think any particular piece of sidemount equipment or training agency is to blame for what is happening. What I am putting it down to is the quality of the actual sidemount training divers are receiving from their chosen sidemount instructor. Having re-looked at many of the emails I received and replied to… I noticed many similarities in what problems the divers where having, which hopefully I will explain throughout this article.

Problems most commonly mentioned;

  1. Sidemount equipment does not feel stable enough and is too much of a hassle to use in the water, so I stick to a twinset for technical diving as it is easier & safer.
  2. Steve having reviewed your online videos, I cannot dive sidemount like you or your students seem to do, you make it look easy!! Here are some pics; can you tell me what am I doing wrong?
  3. I have taken sidemount training and since then spent time looking at your website, I feel that I did not get much from my sidemount training & instructor.
  4. Comparing to what I see on your pictures and video, my tank trim is horrible and is constantly causing distraction to me during the dive, how do I fix this..?
  5. On the surface I cannot float upright, do you find it a problem too…?
  6. I have approx 20 dives in sidemount now; I just added my deco cylinders and find the whole thing task loading compared to using backmount. I must be doing something wrong, can you advise me..? I am confident with a twinset!!
  7. Once I added my cylinders I was grossly over weighted and felt like I had just started diving again, is this to be expected..?
  8. I think the sidemount system I use is the problem, Steve what do you think to this system vs this other system and then what about if I then change this bit and alter this bit etc..?

My general feedback …after finding out more information from students

  • Their course duration was too short just 1 or 2 days; this is not enough time spent learning sidemount correctly (3 to 4 day minimum).
  • Usually a poor configuration of all sidemount equipment, in respect to what is being used its setup & how the skills are being performed.
  • There was too many students on the course (should be max of 3).
  • The sidemount instructor they had was lacking actual experience diving in sidemount; most likely they received poor or no training themselves.
  • Technical diving using sidemount can be more difficult and problematic than say using a backmounted twinset, this is due to sidemounts flexibility and higher demand on correct cylinder configuration, valves, SM system, hose routing and skill sets from each diver (that said, done right it is far superior to backmount!!)
  • With sidemount equipment everything makes a difference your bungee tension, cylinders & cylinder valves used, height of cylinder band placement, cord & bolt snap lengths, your body size, fin choice the list goes on…
  • It is true I will always favour and recommend a sidemount system to you; it will be the one I believe is the best on the market at the time. I will only let you use a system this does not compromise or interfere with the training I offer you.
  • A lot of people are surprised and did not think we would need the 4 full days but believe me everybody does. I want you to leave me knowing exactly how to use sidemount for the diving you do. I will spend enough time building the right skill sets with you, so you continue to stay in sidemount after training!!

Article - Sidemount divers going “back” to backmount 2Please note: Answers to those questions above and much more are found in my online training videos and in my FAQ’s section; found further down this page.

Is it hard to find a good sidemount instructor..?

I think it is easy to tell what kind of sidemount instructor they are, if they are claiming to be the best at everything and just recently jumped on the “sidemount band wagon” then I would question if you will get good training and should choose them. Basically do your research!! I suggest you look at how much time that instructor actually spends diving in sidemount and are they offering sidemount courses because they really believe in the configuration and the “art of sidemount diving” or do they just do it because it’s cool and because sidemount has a lot of interest and media exposure at the moment…?

From 2017, I have decided I will start teaching sidemount instructors again, please see my courses section on the home page for details of how you can become a sidemount instructor with me. You will get what you pay for!!

“Cheap training comes at a cost, much more valuable than your money”

Sidemount diving is growing at an exploding rate and we are hearing about people trying side mount and starting to see it everywhere!! This means that as soon as divers hear about or see sidemount for the first time, they of course want to try it and find out what all the buzz is about!! Sadly this has meant that many instructors just want to be seen offering the latest thing and get another credential (sidemount instructor rating) as it is the new cool thing to offer and a way to make some quick cash, “jump on the band wagon, so to speak” …while the interest is around.

These same “sidemount instructors” do not care about their own reputation and the damage their cheap, low valve sidemount courses have on the dive industry and people like myself who have dedicated several years of their career to the development of sidemount diving. I hope this article makes student divers looking to learn sidemount think, carefully about who you choose to spend your money with. I hope all sidemount instructors reading this really question if what they are offering is of good value and are their sidemount students continuing to use sidemount after training..? If not please STOP teaching until you are able to offer better training, it is your reputation that will suffer along with all the divers you train thinking sidemount does not work!!

Here is something to think about… If I was to line up 10 cave divers that use backmounted equipment from different parts of the world right now and compared all their equipment used. You will find that what they are wearing and how the equipment is configured and how the skills are performed are all very similar. Google: Hogarthian System. This was not true if you go back to 1990, the “same” cave divers back then would all have different BCD, regulator and hose configurations etc, the reason they all changed to what we have today is because quite simply put “what we have now is well tried and tested, it works and is safe”

Article - Sidemount divers going “back” to backmount 3Sidemount is improving quickly as each year passes, but I think for about 75% of people using it, for them it’s still in the 1990 stage of development …everyone has their own idea about what works and what does not. There are a few of us (including myself) that actually would argue what we offer and teach is very standardised. I don’t think it will take the rest of the world 20 years to all offer similar sidemount training. I think more realistically as we have history to help us, it will take another few years (2018).

What I am talking about is the refining of the following areas;

  • Way we configure our sidemount systems, modular valves waist clip system.
  • Correct hose routing, so every piece compliments the next.
  • No additional equipment, like add a stage interferes with initial skills learnt.
  • Minimalist approach to sidemount equipment, less is more!!
  • Using the correct type of cylinders for the correct exposure suits.
  • The list goes on…

The problem with finding something you’re truly passionate about, it becomes heart breaking for me to see sidemount being offered so badly by others, especially to hear about the dropout rate of divers now going back to backmount. I want to reassure all people reading this that sidemount diving does in fact work and I believe with the right training, I can guarantee sidemount can be superior to diving in backmount, in fact I will stick my reputation on it!!

Hopefully I will see you in sidemount, regards Steve Martin. Remember to keep updated by clicking LIKE on my Fan Page

Yes, it is true after much thought I am again offering sidemount instructor training, but for quality assurance there is now only one “very structured” way I will train you as a sidemount instructor or technical diving sidemount instructor. Here is the explanation in a nut shell; In short, you must take student training with me at the level you are looking to teach. Then you go away and practice for 6 months and come back for a 2 day refresher, then assist a full course and have me evaluate your instructor skill demonstrations, then finally teach a full course with me assisting you and then I will certify you as a sidemount instructor and recommend you to all.

Sounds like a lot of hard work right..? That is because it is; it is like any investment it will cost you plenty of your time and money, plus there is no guarantee you will make it and there is a chance you may find out along the way you do not have what it takes. People say it takes years to become good at something, what I am saying it will take at least 6 months to prepare you, then you leave me having gained my backing and now you can start building a solid reputation for yourself. Don’t worry I am not expecting with this business model to be teaching high numbers of sidemount instructors, it has just given a way for some people to join in with me and stand out from the crowd!!

Is this BCD system better than this one !?Article - What sidemount harness and BCD should I buy..?

Since the beginning of 2010 you will have noticed many of the “big” scuba manufacturers starting to make “dedicated” sidemount equipment. The main reason for this was to keep up with the high demand generated towards the end of 2009 by divers wanting to “go sidemount”.

Sidemount diving can be split into two parts; 50% making up your “equipment configuration” and the other 50% being the need to take “comprehensive training”. The equipment selection and instructor you choose is crucial especially when you are first learning to sidemount. The right instructor will make the difference between your future dives being 100% “in sidemount” or you deciding to “go back” to diving in backmount configuration.

This page was written to help explain the key differences between the x2 major types of sidemount manufactured systems on the market today. They can be broke into categories either “Side Mount Only Systems” that only allows you to dive in sidemount and do not allow for a backmount configuration or “Multi-Use Sidemount Systems” that allows for both. Sidemount diving is growing at a alarming rate with now more and more manufacturers are making “sidemount only” systems.

Before reading further I suggest you get familiar with the features of both systems by Googling them. I suggest you use the Razor Side Mount System or XDeep Stealth as an example of “sidemount only” systems and then Google either the Dive Rite Nomad and/or Hollis SMS 100 for examples of the “multi-use systems”. This will help you with understanding the equipment terminology I use below.

Now you have seen what the manufacturers say about each sidemount system, I will explain the major differences I have found based on my personal experiences in extensively using both systems myself and through teaching others to go sidemount.
It is important to know that having a complete sidemount system is more than just having a suitable harness and wing, the other two essential components are a complete regulator package/setup that allows streamlining of all hoses and gauges, the second being cylinder valves & hardware/setup that is clutter free and has redundancy features built in.

Article - What sidemount harness and BCD should I buy 2You could then say the final and most crucial part is having someone to help you correctly setup all equipment so each piece complements one another; this will add safety to the system and through underwater training allow the standardisation of skills sets and procedures. I certainly believe less is more, when it comes to this equipment configuration and with a short 4 day course can excel your learning curve. My current equipment and a good example of a “complete sidemount only system” would be the XDeep Stealth Tec system with the Apeks Sidemount Regulator Package.

The main advantages of using a sidemount only systems are;

  • They use a custom fit harness, so all body sizes and shapes will be compatible, this is not always possible with the multi-use systems.
  • The ability to have the 1st stage and valve stay maintained in the same position to the body – this is through using a loop bungee, length & thickness are crucial.
  • Using left and right handed valves and bungeeing around the extension post – allows clear access to handwheel as it stays in the same location “once bungeed” meaning a clutter free setup enabling safe & efficient shutdowns.
  • Using short LP inflator hoses for BCD and drysuit from a 1st stages 5th LP port – means you have a very direct and streamlined hose routing. Nothing gets in the way of operating any other piece of equipment.
  • Behind the head routing of custom hoses – keeps the most important chest area clear, enabling access to all life support equipment, LPIs, SPG’s – nothing gets in the way of anything else, especially when you add more tec equipment.
  • Cylinders clip to the hips via the “waist clipping method” vs clipping sidemount cylinders to the “door handles” or “rails” found on multiuse systems – enables far more cylinder stability & control as the sidemount cylinders are “continuously pulling” into the divers sides rather than just “hanging off the sides of your body” which they do with some cases of multi-use systems that use the butt pad (rails).
  • The BCD on sidemount only systems is designed to provide lift right at the crucial place where a sidemount diver needs it “at the hip area”, the Razor BAT wing and XDeep Stealth 2 take that a step further and accounts for the diver changing orientation by allowing the air to migrate around the hips when needed.
  • The multi-use systems all provide lift very high up on the diver’s body which will effect trim and makes balancing & weighting a real issue.

Important note: If your sidemount instructor has only used and promotes one type of multi-use system and they do not have “diving” experience using a “sidemount only system” do not even consider them for training you in sidemount. I would at very least get them to explain what they think the pros and cons of each system are… “If they cannot you have your answer”.

I am one of the few people in the world who has dedicated the last 7 years to solely diving and teaching sidemount diving. I hope by reading this article it will save you a lot of time and unnecessary expense in buying equipment!! I am happy to answer any questions you have. It will only cost you your time to send me an email.

Article - What sidemount harness and BCD should I buy 3Back in 2008 I started diving sidemount with Steve Bogaerts as part of my advanced cave training courses. I first used Steve B’s extremely “minimalist” Razor Sidemount Harness with a 6lb camelbak for buoyancy (which 1 year later I upgraded to a modified LPI 12lb MSR Dromedary Bag). After receiving “advanced sidemount cave training”, it was time for me to continue to practice and develop my skills further and see if sidemount could work for all the environments and types of diving I was doing apart from cave diving. So after 1 year of traveling in the UK, Europe and Australia, conducting myself over 200 sidemount dives. I found out rather quickly that sidemount worked for all my diving situations. The limits I found where really with backmounted equipment. It was then after realising that and building my own skill level (over 1 year period) that I decided I was going to start offering side mount training to others who wanted to learn.

Initially the majority of sidemount training I conducted was in the UK. This meant the equipment I was instructing in needed to pass European C.E approval. “Obviously” this meant that a custom razor harness with a drinking bladder as a buoyancy device was going to be out of the question!! So I opted to use the equipment rigging methods I learnt during my time with Steve Bogaerts and his razor system, to “greatly” improve the commercial “Multi-use C.E approved sidemount systems” on the market at the time.

Most of my training in the UK was conducted using the Hollis SMS 100 Side Mount System. I need to make quite a few changes to this system to get it to work better, but it was never ideal.

The major changes were;

  • Removing the standard bungee as they are way too thick to put around valve correctly and you cannot customise the length to suit each person.
  • Removing the door handles or rails and adding d-rings to the waist, as this would address many of the issues with the cylinders “hanging at the sides”

Even though these and slight other changes were made, the system still was not even close to the razor system I had been diving, the wing lifted in the wrong places, the inflator was difficult to use and connect to at the start of the dive. The whole thing felt bulky to use, this system was greatly impacting my diving and training, I found I was all the time making corrects to placement of weights on the rig as the balance was never correct.

Others “Multi-Use Systems” I used and configured for others included the following;

  • Razor Harness using the Hollis SMS wing for buoyancy.
  • Hollis SMS 100 systems (single and dual bladder).
  • Golem Gear Armadillo Sidemount System.
  • Diverite Nomad Expedition System.
  • Oxycheq Recon Sidemount System.
  • OMS Tesseract BCD and Profile Sidemount System.
  • UTD Z-System for Sidemount.

Article - What sidemount harness and BCD should I buy 4All the configurations mentioned above are (Multi-use) backmount and sidemount systems. Each of the manufacturers tell you to use the “rails” or “door handle” for cylinder attachment to the harness. What you will see is that I do not use the rigging system they suggest and instead use what is known as the “waist clipping” technique. I have found that on all these multi-use systems, I have had far better results getting each system to work on divers learning sidemount. At this point I was responsible for teaching over 30 people with these systems configured in this way. You can see what some of these divers thought about the training.

Now I teach with Sidemount Only systems and always travel with x4 complete sidemount teaching sets. This allows me to train up to x3 people without the student needing to buy their own equipment (try before you buy). All my sidemount courses have a minimum of 3/4 days and are limited to a maximum of x3 people, please research your sidemount instructors experience before paying them for any training.

Some tips when picking your sidemount instructor;

  • They should be using sidemount for the majority of their own diving.
  • Avoid someone who tries to push you to buy a sidemount system before you take training, all equipment should be provided during your course.
  • Avoid learning with a group size of more than x3 students.
  • Insure your instructor has at least 1 year worth of sidemount diving experience.
  • Instructor should have a high skill level (e.g. is a certified sidemount cave diver).
  • All open water sidemount courses should be x4 days in duration.
  • Cost of sidemount training should be approx 750+ euros per person (if less I would avoid that course).
  • Sidemount Instructor has actual experience using all the different systems on the market.
  • Sidemount instructor actually learnt on an intensive sidemount instructor training course not just on a half day upgrade, straight after learning a student level sidemount course themselves.

With the ever increasing “open water” sidemount instructors hitting the dive industry, make sure you select someone with a lot of sidemount experience and worldwide teaching skills. Bottom line if you are going to pay for training, then you should be getting the maximum value you can, this can only be done by getting training from someone with a high level of sidemount experience and who truly believes in sidemount diving and the equipment configuration used.

I hope this information helps the people reading this with your equipment and instructor selection. Don’t just take one person’s word that their system is the best and works, try them all out if you want. Remember with me, I am that confident about the training I offer, you can just bring your mask, fins and an exposure suit and use all my equipment before you decide on what’s right and what works, I will even do the first day of a booked course FOC and we go our separate ways, no worries, that is if you do not get what you want from me at the end of the 1st day. Look forward to your questions and meeting you in the water – Steve Martin

The questions I ask and answer in this article, you should ask to any instructor you and thinking to invest your money and time into for training. With the ever increasing number of dive instructors out there, I suggest you look for what makes each dive instructor special and stand out from the others; most importantly you are looking at who will give you the most value for your particular course. I believe that you should get the most value from any courses you take; these questions below are what you should ask to every instructor, they will help you find the right person to teach you.Article - What should you be looking for in an instructor..?

My diving credentials;

  • Steve Martin;
  • PADI Course Director #626508
  • TDI Technical & Cave Diving Instructor #18183
  • TecRec Instructor Trainer (Full Trimix)

When did you learn to dive and when did you become an instructor..?

I learnt to dive from the early age of 16, back in October 1999. Then just 2 years later I became a technical diver at the age of 18. 2 more years on I did PADI Divemaster and Assistant Instructor in 2003. 16 months later aged 21, I went onto become a PADI instructor in November 2004. From then on I was working as a full time instructor in the UK, this involved taking groups of diver’s overseas to destinations around Europe. I became one of the youngest PADI Course Director’s at 23 years old in July 2007. Since becoming a Course Director I’ve been working freelance, offering diver training in recreational, technical and instructor level courses all around the world. My biggest achievement was building the experience needed to become a cave diving instructor which I did in 2013, since 2010 I have been one of the key people leading the field in the development of side mount scuba diving.

Are you a full time or part time instructor..?

Since I became a dive instructor I have worked full time in the industry. I am a full time dive instructor that actively teaches diving courses, this is my sole source of income and funds what I love to do. When I am not teaching a course, I make a point of regularly spending time diving for myself. This allows me to push and develop my own skill level and keeps my passion and enjoyment for scuba diving. With part time instructors, I have found that even though they are mostly as dedicated as full time instructors, they may not find enough time to run courses which is needed to keep their teaching skills at a high level. They can also fall short on time staying up to date with new diving skills, techniques and equipment developments as well as their own dive fitness level.

What countries you have worked in..?

Article - What should you be looking for in an instructor 2The countries I have worked and lived in are; UK, Scotland, Malta, Greece, Mexico, Australia, Solomon Islands.

The countries I have visited and conducted courses in are; all around the UK, Shetland Islands, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Egypt, Maldives, Bahamas, Florida, California, Mexico, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand.

What did you do before becoming a dive instructor..?

Everybody I knew had no real idea of what to do once they left school. Most enrolled in colleges and universities or just found any job they could. From the ages of 16 to 18, I spent my time developing sales skills working for outdoor activities companies and then decided that I would be one of the few people that would try something “outside of the box…” From the age of 10, I have been involved in water-sports, it started with water-skiing. At 18 years old I realised I had what it takes to help others learn and share what I loved to do and was so passionate about.

I became a waterskiing and barefoot instructor throughout 2001 to 2003, while working for Lowwood ski school, Windermere, Lake District, UK. It was during those 2.5 years while developing my teaching skills and building my scuba diving experience. Combine this with the fact that I wanted to travel and see the world… Lead me to my chosen career as a scuba diving instructor and instructor trainer.

If you’re not out diving what else do you do..?

I now spend most of my spare time keeping a high fitness level, since 2013 I have been doing crossfit training 5 to 6 days a week. I believe keeping fit is important for any diver especially someone who makes technical dives. I regularly run, road cycle, swim and do weight training to balance it out. Other interests I have are kite-surfing and I enjoy any competitive sports. If I have to stay indoors then, making online training videos, doing website development and catching up with friends and family over Facebook and Skype.

Steve Martin Crossfit Training in MexicoAre you involved in technical diving and how did you start..?

With anything you do, especially technical diving I found that you needed to make technical dives on a regular basis to keep your skill level high. Another would be the need to take further technical training with people who specialise in different fields of technical diving. I have always had an interest in wreck diving and went technical for that reason and the fact that technical divers learn a higher skill set than recreational divers. I learnt to technical dive in Egypt during 2001 and worked my way through the courses to become a TDI advanced trimix diver (open circuit). I built up my technical dive experience working for many dive centres around the world. In 2006 I became a DSAT, PADI TecRec deep and trimix instructor. Two years later I became a PADI TecRec instructor trainer writing my own distinctive specialty courses for teaching people sidemount scuba diving.

2008 was probably the biggest eye opener for me; this is when I learnt to become a cave diver, possibly the hardest environment within technical diving. This took me to Mexico’s cenotes and a cave instructor called Steve Bogaerts, later I would go on to learn advanced cave penetration using sidemount equipment configuration. From then on sidemount diving became my passion…

What types of dive environments, do you have experience diving in..?

I have been subject to diving in many different dive environments throughout the countries I have been to. These environments include;

  • cold water diving (4*C, drysuit)
  • warm water diving
  • remote location diving (Shetland and Solomon islands)
  • hazardous dives with high current, low visibility
  • wreck dives (involving penetration work)
  • deep dives
  • cave diving
  • DPV dives

What are your goals for the future..?

Since creating online training materials, I now want to help educate as many people around the world as possible. Now that I have the online training this gives me the chance to reach divers that I might never get to meet in person, so I am very proud and privileged to be in the position I am. After all we only get so long on this planet and to help as many people as you can is a great way to spend it, I think!!

Quite a few people say I don’t want to sidemount because I don’t want to carry two cylinders!!Article - Why we should all now use sidemount diving equipment

That is a very good point and for many divers, they see equipment overload and it does initially put them off, but why do you have to carry two cylinders I say… when you are in a warm water location (using a wetsuit) diving sidemount with one aluminium cylinder “at your side” is in fact a great way to dive. The divers I have trained in sidemount single cylinder really enjoy the freedom, of having a cylinder off your back provides and they quickly find out that adding an additional 2nd cylinder is not that different and even easier to balance and trim yourself over using a single cylinder.

After a few dives more using two sidemounted cylinders correctly they then start to see the many added benefits of carrying x2 cylinders underwater. All this then results in a changed perspective from each of the divers and the problem of carrying two cylinders is no more, especially if you have someone else bring them to the water’s edge for you!! 😉

So why do we have our cylinders on are back anyway..?

My explanation for both guys and girls, picture yourself at home and the washing machine has just finished its wash cycle, you do not have the spin dry function so your full load is still soaking wet… okay you look outside it is a sunny day, so you are going to use your washing line. I bet you generally empty the wet washing into a basket, then pickup the basket using the two handles on either side and carry this approx 100 to 200 yards to your washing line. Not too much of a problem carrying that weight for such a short distance right..?

Now I want you to imagine that same heavy wash basket and the weather is not suitable for drying outside, your partner has the car so you are now left with walking to your local laundry shop 10 mins walk from your house. Do you still fancy carrying that wash basket? …No, me nether!! It is too heavy for just our arms to carry, so what we do is either find a rucksac or bag with wheels and put the washing in there for transport. This is because it is much easier to carry the heavy load on our backs.

Carrying your backmount scuba diving systemThis is the exact same problem we are all faced with when using are “even heavier” scuba dive equipment. Again picture yourself you have your normal cylinder, bcd, regulators and lead weights, we are at the dive site and the walk to the water is a good few hundred yards away. It makes sense our BCD’s are designed like a backmounted rucksac, it makes carrying are SCUBA gear to the water possible. Once you make it to the water, what a relief to get that weight of your back right 🙂

Underwater we can feel weightlessness by adding air to our BCD which allows us to become neutrally buoyant, but what we still can notice is when we move and especially change orientation by turning onto our side, upside down we feel the weight of our backmounted equipment shift, this is due to our centre of gravity changing due to placement of equipment on are back. When using sidemount equipment are centre of gravity shift is not like backmount as the sidemount cylinders balance each other out all the time, and the positioning of the cylinder(s) gives you a much more streamlined profile, this creates real underwater freedom, comparable to that of a freediver!! …just using scuba 😉

I think backmount BCD’s where originally designed like a rucksac, as an easy way to carry our weight of equipment from land into the water, while keeping our hands free “not because backmounted equipment actually performs better underwater”
Another huge advantage to sidemount diving, if you think back about that few hundred metres walk to the water I mentioned, the walk can be made much easier; by setting up the regulators on the cylinders and then leaving them at the dive site entrance point prior to the dive, you then get changed into your exposure suit and sidemount BCD and walk relatively weight free to the water’s edge… once there you can then put on our sidemounted cylinders (in water) and go diving, without all the stress and strain of the walk with equipment normally on your back!!

Thinking back to the story, you could say that diving in sidemount is just like doing your washing at the laundry shop in the first place!! 😀

Sidemount Experience with Steve Martin YouTube Video –

Article - Why we should all now use sidemount diving equipment 2Is sidemount really that much better than backmount under the water..?

Yes, let me explain – backmounted equipment is not as hydrodynamic as sidemount equipment, meaning that when using side mount you can achieve;

  • More buoyancy control through better streamlining of all your equipment.
  • More comfort as your spine can flex as it is supposed to do.
  • More efficient propulsion and glide from every kick you make.
  • More tasks like operating your BCD inflator and deflator become even easier.
  • More comfort knowing you have extra redundancy in case of equipment failures
    • more available air supply, for yourself and buddy
    • complete redundancy if a regulator fails for any reason
    • all this results in you having more time and less stress underwater

Top 5 benefits for why we should choose sidemount;

  1. Generally most sidemount harnesses are custom fit, this adds comfort and allows correct fitting for all body shapes & sizes.
  2. Having the option to put on the heavy bits (cylinders) in water first, makes scuba diving far easier and gives you more energy for underwater swimming.
  3. Being more streamlined underwater makes more dive sites accessible, as many sites have challenging conditions like currents, long swims etc…
  4. For many ladies sidemount makes technical diving possible (no twinsets to carry)
  5. Using sidemount diving just looks way cooler and much more fun!!

So when you really think about it Sidemount equipment is better than backmounted equipment in nearly every way you can imagine… I thank you for taking the time to read this article and hope you have enjoyed its contents. I know you will have lots of questions after reading this, don’t worry I am expecting them, after all I designed the article this way 🙂

I have been diving for over a decade now, my only wish is that I had discovered Sidemount diving from the beginning; most of you have the chance to do what I could not!! Sidemount scuba diving really is the future!

Find out more about Steve Martin through his Fan Page

November 2008

As a fully certified “backmount” cave diver, I decided to learn more and train at the advanced “sidemount” cave diving level (my instructor Steve Bogaerts).

sidemount-development-chart-steve-martinFebruary 2009 (+3 months)

My first PADI Distinctive Specialty Instructor outlines and teaching presentations were written & approved (single & twin cylinder). Given my background and as an instructor trainer I instantly saw the opportunity to take “sidemount diving” into the open water environment.

Important note: Even though my sidemount courses where developed it would be another (+1 year) before I would teach my first sidemount student. This was mainly due to me building my own sidemount skill level in the open water environment. After all there was little to no information available about sidemounting from boats and the sidemount equipment available at the time was lacking!! So it was down to me doing it the hard way and getting wet, that year was spent in Australia.

December 2009 (+10 months)

Before I trained my first student, I would have 150+ open water sidemount dives “under my belt”, more than half where made on Australia’s most famous shipwreck (S.S Yongala). Having now gained lots of experience myself I decided to further refine my distinctive outline and changed it to have x2 standalone sidemount courses (single cylinder) and (twin cylinder).

March 2010 (>1 year after the course was developed)

The first person was trained in (twin cylinder) sidemount a Matthew King …Later followed several training courses and the start of something I knew then would go big in the dive industry!!

April 2010 – (1 month later)

As a PADI Course Director (Instructor Trainer) it was only natural for me to want to help develop other instructors to teach their students “something I knew they would love to do” and other “open water sidemount instructors” where needed to grow awareness and popularity with sidemount in the open water environment, “after all it is not just for cave divers anymore” …so after now having conducted several sidemount courses in Australia, I applied to PADI to become a “sidemount instructor trainer” for my own distinctive specialty (single & twin cylinder).

Important note: Another passion of mine is and always has been wreck diving. Given my wreck diving and sidemount experience to date and through what I had learned about penetration training during my “advanced cave side mount course” I decided to have a go at putting together a technical distinctive specialty “Advanced Side Mount Wreck Diver” which was approved in April 2010.

sasha-sm-essentialsApril 2010 to October 2010 (+7 months)

With the interest in my “sidemount diving courses” spreading… It was time for me to head back to the Manchester, UK (north). There I would conduct sidemount training at both student and instructor levels. This extended to me travelling to several locations in Europe to promote sidemount (Greece, Portugal and Mallorca). I also  decided to revisit Mexico to gain further experience by assisting Steve B on a sidemount cave diving course and do lots of cave diving in sidemount, constantly improving my own skill level.

November 2010 (+21 months after developing first course)

I decided to update and revise my current sidemount courses. Major change was to stop teaching the (twin cylinder) specialty course and instead offer my newly developed distinctive specialty course (sidemount essentials). At this time I also decided to stop training sidemount instructors and instead concentrate on offer high end student level sidemount training courses. The main reason for this was due to me having no real ability to “quality control” what other instructors where doing with my distinctive sidemount course “a lot can change in a year”.

Important note: At the time of writing this page (February 2012) none of the sidemount instructors I have previously trained, have ever come back to me for a sidemount training update or retraining. All instructors I trained are still offering my now dated distinctive specialty “twin cylinder” training course. I believe it is crucial to get updates “from the source” this allows you to move and develop with the times. This is even more important when the instructor does not spend everyday working and diving in sidemount configuration.

December 2010 to June 2011 (+7 months)

I was back in Australia again, this time with one focus to further promote sidemount diving in the open water environment – ohh and escape the European winter 😉

the-official-razor-side-mount-instructorsJune 2011

Steve Bogaerts invited me to join him and two others and at the time we would be the only four Razor Side Mount System instructors worldwide. Since I had already trained with Steve on advanced level sidemount diving, no additional training was needed, I was willing to run Go Side Mount endorsed courses and asked them if we should bring my Sidemount Essentials program under there banner so to speak. But due to business negotiations between us, we decided to both go are separate ways. I maintained friends with Steve and have a huge amount of respect him and the cave training I received.

July 2011 to September 2011

Brought me back to the UK/Europe to further promote sidemount diving and awareness of my sidemount essentials training course.

November 2011 to February 2012

It was European winter time and a good opportunity for me to escape back to Australia for 4 months, of course I took all my sidemount equipment with me.

February 2012 

I am back in the UK/Europe to get ready for a big year of sidemount training. PADI themselves have finally decided to offer standardised sidemount training courses, this will mean a huge amount of new sidemount instructors hitting the market. Like anything in life some things are worth paying a bit extra for and if that is high end sidemount training from a highly experienced sidemount instructor/trainer then I look forward to hearing from you.

**Important note: everything you have read so far in this article was actually written in February 2012, with the release of my new website you are currently reading this on, I decided to update this article… it is now 4.5 years later and rather than give you a month by month account as I have done since I started sidemount diving and the development of my courses, I will just tell you the highlights of where I am at now 😉

November 2016

vimeo-subtitles-2For the last 4+ years, I moved between Gozo (Malta) and Mexico mainly. I continually improved and improved my Sidemount Essentials course and trained many divers at this level. I then used this course as a benchmark level before I would continue to train sidemount divers into the technical fields; like deep decompression and cave diving. I got to a point where every course I would advertise I would generally fill and then in the busy periods I could not meet the demand for the customers wanting courses, so this got me thinking… how can I still help and train all the divers from around the world requesting me, if it was unlikely that we would ever get to meet in the water.

Then one day it hit me, every sidemount course I did was almost exactly the same as the last, all the equipment setup workshops, the briefings, the in-water training sessions etc… So what if video recorded myself doing all the equipment setup, BCD system, regulator system and cylinder setup. I would then have all the students just watch it before the course start, then we could spend more time in the water!!

Well let’s just say this worked, it worked so well in fact it would make more in a year than I would make in the water teaching diving. Even better than the financial rewards it actually prepared the people taking my training course really well and meant that in the 4 days someone would train with me, we got a lot more time in the water developing skills and then divers left even better than I ever could get them before I started with the online training materials.

So I got thinking again and decided to make more online training videos for my course and this time concentrate on skills done on the course as well as cover the common problems for each skill and then video how to best correct each. This lead to me releasing an 8 hour skill video after going through hundreds of hours of video material I had shot from students in training from all the courses I had conducted.

Now I had a full online training product that covered everything in my Sidemount Essentials course. During 2015 I was amazed at just how well prepared somebody could be from using my online materials and study at home, then come to me for in-water training, the results were amazing and I will let you read the 40+ testimonials I have added to this website, just scroll up and down the page you are on right now, I will let them speak for themselves.

The entire year of 2016…

Based on the huge success of my online training; since it’s initial release in 2014. I decided to invest the entire 2016 year, into remaking from scratch a completely new range of online training materials. In fact the website you are reading this article from is completely new and designed around hosting my new eLearning online scuba diving training video lessons. I don’t think I need to say much more as this entire website covers the new materials and exactly what they will do for you, I am expecting this to really take off and I can not tell you how revelived and excited I am after spending 12 months of my life working almost everyday on this, and I mean working 8+ hours each day, sometimes one day blurring into the next.

I hope this article, gives you a clear picture of how sidemount grew over the years and the part I was/am lucky enough to be playing in it. Thanks to everyone reading this and investing in my online training, you keep me doing what I do and I would not change my job for anything!! Cheers, Steve Martin

With online video based training …you can see it, hear it and experience it !!

FAQs, Articles & Testimonials
 21 H 53 Min | 165 Videos
  • Free Course Lessons | 50 Minutes split over 7 Videos
  • Backmount Course | 2 H 23 Min split over 22 Videos
  • Sidemount Course | 10 H 17 Min split over 69 Videos
  • All Divers Course | 3 H 47 Min split over 25 Videos
  • Technical Diving Course | 3 H 2 Min split over 26 Videos
  • Finning Techniques Training | 1 H 22 Min split over 13 Videos
  • Hand Signals Training | 31 Minutes split over 5 Videos

Who are these products suitable for ?

Whether your a newly certified or highly experienced recreational, technical diver or dive instructor my online training will benefit you.

It is modular in design so you can watch and re-watch all sections as many times as you like, each course is broken down into small manageable sections, each with many 3, 5, 10 or 15 minute single videos. Out of all 165 videos, average length is 7 Min 9 Seconds.

You just choose your chosen equipment configuration, backmount single & twinset, sidemount or technical multi-cylinder. Note all HD training videos are edited with a complete voice-over using the latest production quality audio and video recording equipment available.

Website and training courses are fully optimised for mobiles, tablets and desktops

Using a smart phone or tablet ? ..then watch these videos

I’m no longer selling a single product… Instead a 12 month membership subscription

Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 7 separate courses.
Containing 165 individual lessons, 21 h 53 min of video material.

        finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials
Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 6 separate courses.
Containing 143 individual lessons, 19 h 29 min of video material.

      finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials
Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 6 separate courses.
Containing 139 individual lessons, 18 h 51 min of video material.

      finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials
Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 5 separate courses.
Containing 70 individual lessons, 8 h 34 min of video material.

    finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials
Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 5 separate courses.
Containing 117 individual lessons, 16 h 28 min of video material.

    finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials
Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Once you purchase this subscription, you will gain access to 3 separate courses.
Containing 23 individual lessons, 2 h 23 min of video material.

finning-techniques  hand-signals  free-tutorials

Note: click on images above for full details on each course

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Your chance to test my online training videos, free of charge.
Contains 8 individual lessons, 57 minutes of video material.

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$0.00 for 1 year Add To Cart

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All courses are available in packages

Example: Package 1 includes all courses, but if you are not interested in for example backmount, maybe package 2 or 5 is better choice for you?

You can get missing add-ons later

After purchasing a package, you can always get the additional missing courses later, but you will get a much better deal if you initially get the full package.

More info

The goal was to create online training, capable of surpassing most instructors!

Scuba training should not be limited
to meeting in person only !!

I now have online training products that far exceeds anything else to date, my goal was to have something that could be as good as me actually being there in person with you and arguably in some ways even better than that!!

More about Steve
Learning starts before you hit the water

We work on practical dive skills in-water but understanding what you need to do and why, comes through learning dive theory which is best done through video based eLearning.

A student during their course can easily recall previously learned information, then focus 100% on underwater skills.

This maximises students and instructors time, resulting in skills being better performed and absorbed during training.


Here are just some highlights from my new online training series ?

Each second of video has a “high quality audio” voiceover added, designed to maximum your learning experience.

Has a more modular design, with smaller more manageable videos lengths, average being just 7 minutes. New updates are added easily to each video series and members immediately notified of new content as it gets released.

All workshop videos were shot in 4K and converted to 1080p during editing, this allows for amazing high detailed close-ups. All content was professionally edited using AVID Media Composer which gives smooth transitions, slow-motion effects all greatly improving your learning experience and save on your valuable time when watching.

All lessons come completely subtitled in English, these are optional, you just select them in the video player.

Step by step guide to weighting yourself in just your exposure suit and using a single backmount cylinder.

Step by step guide to weighting yourself using a twinset or sidemount cylinders and full technical equipment with stage and deco cylinders.

Includes standard backmount systems, XDeep Ghost and Zen.

Includes various sidemount systems, Razor 2, XDeep Stealth (Classic, Rec & Tec), Ultimate and AGIR Ratatosk.

As well as older systems like; Hollis SMS 100, Golem Gear Armadillo and Dive Rite Nomad.

Now added a comprehensive Backmount Course with 8 h 34 min content split over 70 individual videos. This will help all levels of divers especially the ones straight out of there open water course.

Covering everything from the essential equipment setup to proving why when correctly weighted you won’t need a removable weight belt and if your BCD completely failed underwater you can still safely swim to the surface without assistance from your buddy.

Both my backmount and technical diving course packages include twinset modifications along with setup & training tips that will for sure improve your backmount diving.

I cover all the pros and cons of twinset compared to sidemount diving and why for multi cylinder technical diving you should consider using sidemount configuration.

31 minutes of content split over 5 training videos, which cover over 100 individual hand signals. I go into exactly how to make each signal and what situations you should use of them for. Note all hand signals shown are ONE HANDED versions as when you dive it is often common to have one hand occupied.

There are hand signals for making different finning techniques, as well as general signals for all divers and technical divers including deep / cave. I also include special signals I use and recommend other instructors to use for communicating with students in training.

1 h 22 min of content split over 13 training videos, which cover all the finning techniques recreational and technical scuba divers use. Each video goes through step by step how to develop each finning technique as well as show you the common problems and how to over come them.

Also included is an 8 minute video on training drills on correct body position and a special 11 minute training video on stretches & exercises for scuba divers. To view all individual lessons and actually see what your buying (click here)

Simple put… I started again so I could FUTURE PROOF my online video training series. It would need to be more user friendly and be easy to update as time passes and the dive industry develops. My old video series consisted of just 6 videos, 5 being 1 to 1.5 hours long and 6th being 8 hours in duration.

The new series has currently 165 videos with close to 22 hours of content and the average video length being just over 7 minutes making each video easier to watch and re-watch as well as index.

All course lesson videos are now available through a state-of-the-art online eLearning training system.

Since the release of my old video series (April 2015), new video content was shot between May 2015 to August 2016 (1.5 years) this includes, students in training and 2 months of additional footage that was shot solely for the purpose of these new online training products.

It all comes down to how do you make the best training and learning experience for all types of divers whilst maximising each divers ability to retain theory and skill development. Explained in these 3 steps…

1st – A diver needs to understand what they need to be able to do and/or learn, otherwise there time spend underwater is generally wasted and not productive. A diver also needs actual in-water practice and training in order to develop any new dive skills.

2nd – to know what to practice you need theory, know how to correctly setup equipment and understand how to do dive skills, this comes by studying the online training materials. You can learn this just from your instructor but the amount you can learn at the same time as trying to actual perform skills is more difficult and often a lot is misunderstood or missed. Online training fixes this!!

3rd – once student hits the water and tests a new equipment configuration or dive skill, they get direct feedback on how well they performed it. Having seen the online video prior to an instructor underwater demonstration helps the student understand exactly what they are watching, which means better performance during training.

After a training course, skill retention and theory knowledge drop over time, this is where the online videos again come in full swing as the diver can refresh any all or any parts that they feel they need to before again hitting the water.

Cylinder band which secures lower cylinder boltsnap is positioned and tested in four different places in relation to the extension post, proving exactly which is the best location that works for securing your sidemount cylinders.

Cylinder band height is moved from my recommend setup height, higher and lower on the cylinder in 5cm increments, I prove how this effects your cylinders trim.

Loop bungee is fully testing from my optimal suggested setup length again in 5cm increments. This shows what happens if your sidemount bungee is too short or too long and what effect this has on your cylinder trim.

You will find even more detailed feedback further down this homepage, here are the highlights of requested improvements by customers using my old training series.

• Underwater clips should have narration or commentary added to them.
• Training videos should be shorter in length, broken into sections and easier to find.
• Like to see more close-up video of equipment configuration and slow motion of skills being done.
• Videos need consistent sound quality, if your video based training was professional edited it would be amazing!!
• Like to see more on diver making ascents and ascent techniques.
• Like to see more on diver trimming and sliding d-rings/cylinder trimming.
• Want more configuration setup and skills for trimix divers and divers carrying/using 5 or 6 cylinders.
• Avoid using black bungee on a black background, make knot tying easier to see.

All these requests have been fully implemented into my new video series plus much, much more!!

One customer from my old video series written this in his feedback form… “It would be enlightening to see less experienced people than Steve, actually make mistakes and then Steve corrects with a voice-over. I always learn more from mistakes than from seeing it done right”

So based on that feedback and since I document and video record all my student in training. I actually went back through all courses I taught since 2009 “7 years worth” and after reviewing thousands of video clips, I selected the best ones related to actual problem solving of student during training and edited them into the new video series.

Now each of my current 165 online training videos have a comments section just below each of the actual videos. It is simple if you have watched the video twice but still have a question or do not fully understand something, just use the “leave a reply” section below each video and I will do my best to answer any and all questions raised.

This comment section is also a great place for you to leave feedback, that you think may benefit other users when they are watching the same video.

Please note: you can only leave a comment if you are an actual customers with access to that particular course.

Customer feedback from my old online videos, was the driving force behind my new series !!


Thank you to all my existing customers, I have taken all your feedback on board and implemented it !!

My first online equipment configuration training videos were released 10th July 2014, then 10 months later I completed that series on 20th April 2015 with 8 hour underwater sidemount skills video.

I then had 623 unique customers purchase my online products since there initial release with 200+ people taking the time to complete my comprehensive feedback questionnaire, you can view the questions asked and the customers responses by clicking on the image below.

[envira-gallery id=”1374″]

Studies show 82% of people find video based courses more effective over text & image based ones!!

The reviews are in for my new video series.

Members can request new equipment reviews …most popular I will create new videos for !!

Benefits for all Members…

• Access to a secret members only group, questions answered daily!!
• Members can request new content, most popular I will act on.
• Access to new review videos after I test the latest dive equipment

Why my online training works so effectively…

1) You can pre-study weeks before your actual training course
2) Now educated, aware of your weaknesses before in-water training
3) Have online skill videos to benchmark your in-water skills against
4) Re-use online training courses to refresh knowledge & skills


Why you should invest right now…

• Full educational based training system, that is tested & proven.
• My focus is different, no text to read it’s about video based learning
• This training works for both divers and instructors.
• Helps you become safe, competent and really enjoy all your dives
• Myth busting secrets answered “do I really need ditchable weights?”
• More knowledgeable, this stops shops selling you the wrong gear!!
• Save dive time, get into water with equipment correctly setup.
• Guaranteed you will look & dive better than any diver in your club.
• Bulk buy deal available for instructors and dive centres “just ask”

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You can find information about my in-water training courses below…

Do you already have the essential diving skill set…Essentials Training ...using backmount configuration

What are the essentials..?

Buoyancy = being able to control yourself in any depth in the water column (being able to utilise your entire lung volume for precise control).
Trim = being able to hold your body position flat “like a sky diver in free-fall” without straining your body (key is having a balanced equipment configuration).
Propulsion = being able to effectively use a variety of fin techniques to best suit the diving environment you are in (having precise, efficient kicks are crucial).

The simple concept is this… “Before you make any movement underwater you should always have correct B.T.P (Buoyancy, Trim and Propulsion); by ensuring this every effort you make will be at its maximum efficiency…” Developing this essential skill set you will now be able to develop “arguably” the most important skill… “Good Awareness Underwater”

Do I need to dive in sidemount to learn these skills..?

It is true that using sidemount equipment configuration in my opinion gives the best overall platform to learn this skill set; however gaining experience and taking essentials training in your current equipment configuration is still possible… the key is getting the right instructor who has the necessary experience to enable you to maximise what you can learn, so you can take the most value from any training you pay out for.

Will this essentials training be included with your sidemount courses..?

Short answer is YES it will, however if your know your current skills need some work or you are not sure, then contact me and I can walk you through what covered with the essentials training. We can decide together if you will need another day or two on top of the course. What I want is for you to get the most value for any training you receive their is a good reason why I am not the cheapest out there.

How long does your essentials training take..?

If I said to you what does practice make..? “most people would reply with perfect…” well I think it practice makes permanent this is because what you practice may not always be correct. A dive instructor who has a great deal of teaching experience and dives in different environments like open water, technical, cave would have the best ability to pass judgement on this… I generally conduct essentials training over 2 days, the idea is that I work with you to get your diving configuration to its maximum efficiency, then I develop your core diving skills. This includes advanced breathing techniques (buoyancy control), fin propulsion techniques like modified flutter kick, frog kick, helicopter turns, backward frog kick… While you demo back what you have seen, this is recorded in short videos, that are reviewed during the debrief and then you can further practice the skills until you master them.

Having efficient diving techniques will take plenty of practice, what is important is that you go away practising something that you know is correct… this can only be insured by taking essentials training from someone who can actually do underwater what you want to be able to do…

How do I get this training and what will it cost..?

This training will be done at my daily rate and is designed to prepare you for any other training course. If your skills are good then it may only take 1 day to work on the bits above your need more development in.

A try dive session different than all the others…Sidemount Experience ...try dive using sidemount configuration

What is a sidemount try dive session..?

It is a session designed to do one thing, put you into “the same exact system” I use and then put you straight underwater to experience sidemount diving. All the donning and doffing skills, equipment workshops like setting up your sidemount system, regulator & cylinder setup are all left for a full training program.

I will make it so you can get underwater in sidemount as “quickly & stress free” as possible.

Most people have said they learn more about buoyancy, trim and propulsion techniques in this short session with myself, than in any of their previous training courses. This is not just a try dive but a chance to experience sidemount diving exactly like I setup all my full course students.

What will we do..?

I set you up in a custom fitted sidemount system (approx 30 mins)
Then don x2 sidemount cylinders to you (whilst in water)
We then descend and do some exercises (regulator switches & SPG checks)
Then spend 30 to 45 minutes testing out your overall diving skill level (with skills from my essential program)
I will then doff cylinders and debrief the session (with video reviews)

What do I need to start..?

You need to be; PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent rating) and at least 18 years old with 25 logged dives (minimum).
Mask & Suitable Fins
Suitable Exposure Protection
All other equipment provided
Session can be done in pool, confined or open water site.

Training that will forever change the way you dive!!

Sidemount Essentials ...Steve Martin's signature training courseThe training I offer is based around the following concept…

  1. Diver develops the essential skills (which every diver needs)
  2. Diver needs a truly balanced equipment configuration (sidemount gives this)
  3. Diver needs a cutting edge training course (backed by years of experience)
  4. Diver is capable of deciding what’s next (now experienced & ready)
  5. Diver is able to learn advanced/technical levels (correctly due to foundation training)
  6. Diver gets the return they expected!! (for the money & time they invested)

This concept is what I am 100% behind. That is why there are no short cuts in learning to sidemount with myself, the training you will get will not leave you thinking of going back into a backmounted (twinset). If it does, then I would look at giving you your money back (seriously)!! You getting the right sidemount training course and instructor will make all the difference…

You would not believe the amount of emails I am starting to get from newly certified sidemount divers who are complaining that sidemount is not working for them and they did not get what they have seen in my photos and YouTube videos.

My short reply to those emails is… So, sorry to hear that, now let’s have a Skype call this way I can easily explain why this happened to you and ways to remedy it. Usually it is down to the equipment selection, the amount of time spent learning and the instructor’s knowledge/skill level is questionable. If you are looking for sidemount training then please save yourself this problem, contact me before you learn (it will cost you nothing but time).

I will happily give anyone 15-30 minutes of my time and if you still train with someone other than me, at least you will have a better idea of what training you should be getting.

Training conditions and detailed course information…

  1. Upon booking confirmation, you will receive 50% off your access to my latest online training videos membership
  2. All divers must use approved training equipment (listed below)
  3. Training must take place over a minimum of 3 full days (recommend 4 days)
  4. This training course will not be the cheapest out there, this is for good reason
  5. If you have a sidemount certification and want to take it further (contact me for options)

My training equipment;

  • Sidemount Harness and BCD = XDeep Stealth or Razor System (if you use another system, let me know)
  • Sidemount Regulators = Apeks Sidemount Package (if you have your own, let me know)
  • Sidemount Cylinders & Hardware = (Selection of LP Steel and Aluminium)

Firstly, you do not need to go out and buy equipment, if fact I recommend against it. Unless you have taken a training course and you know sidemount is the way you want to head why invest so much in equipment..? How about instead pay more for your training and then make an informed decision on equipment selection (thus saving you time, money and frustration in the long run). All sidemount equipment will be provided for you during training, if you have your own you can bring this.

Sidemount Essentials is a 4 day training program that does much more than teach you how to sidemount dive, it makes you into a well rounded and capable diver.

During the program you will develop and tested on the skills every diver should aim to have…
Sidemount Essentials ...Steve Martin's signature training course 2

  • Diving in a team, how to deal with diver emergencies
  • Develop the correct reflex responses to surprise equipment failures
  • Essentials skills like advanced navigation techniques and SMB deployment
  • Advanced Buoyancy, Trim & Propulsion (finning) techniques
  • Dive planning and discussing the what if’s and pre-dive problem solving
  • Learn how to adapt to varying conditions, like current, surge, being lost
  • Adapting to different dive sites and boat diving techniques
  • Learn advanced navigation and underwater awareness techniques

Some benefits for the recreational diver;

  • Diver will develop the essential skills set.
  • This course is a lot more than just an “intro to technical diving”
  • Easier to learn twin cylinder diving using sidemount than a backmounted twinset
  • Course stays within recreational diving limits, increases safety and allows more in water time for learning
  • Best thing to do is contact me and we can talk through your diving experience and together make suggestions on your best way forward.

Some benefits for the technical diver;

  • Enables access to dive sites that taking a backmounted twinset is either difficult or impossible.
  • Your cylinders are put on and taken off in water so no more straining your back and body.
  • A system that offers a “true” redundant and independent air source (without carrying additional cylinders).
  • Having the cylinders at your side enables better trim and buoyancy control (than with a twinset).
  • Have easy access to your cylinder valves should a problem arise (fixes the can not reach behind the head twinset problem).
  • Same equipment is used during more advanced technical training e.g. “wreck penetration” and cave diving in “restrictions”.
  • Having this speciality enables you to take further training using sidemount equipment during any PADI TecRec technical courses.

What will we do..?

There will be; theory, equipment workshops, surface land drills, training dives and open water dives. All will include detailed feedback and daily video debriefing sessions.

Sidemount Essentials ...Steve Martin's signature training course 3

  • Cylinder Setup Workshop
  • Regulator Configuration Workshop
  • Sidemount System Workshop
  • Accessories Workshop
  • Surface Land Drills
  • Propulsion/Finning Techniques Workshop
  • Review and Practice Valve Shutdown Procedures
  • Review and Practice Gas Sharing Protocols
  • Advanced Buoyancy Training
  • Navigation Workshop (Correct Compass Use)
  • Advanced Dive Planning & Underwater Simulation
  • Team Diving Protocols & SMB Deployment

Suggested schedule;

  • Day 1 – Equipment workshops & skills training dive 1.
  • Day 2 – Complete theory, surface land drills & skills training dives 2 & 3.
  • Day 3 – Open water dives 1 & 2 (& skills assessments)
  • Day 4 – Open water dives 3 & 4 (& skills assessments)

What do I need to start..?

You need to be; PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent rating) and at least 18 years old with 25 logged dives (minimum).

  • Mask & Suitable Fins
  • Suitable Exposure Protection
  • All Sidemount Equipment (will be provided)
  • Compass/SMB & Spool (contact me for my recommendations)

Sidemount Essentials can be combined with technical level upgrade options…Sidemount Essentials ...Steve Martin's signature training course 4

  1. Sidemount Essentials = 4 days
  2. Sidemount Essentials Tec 40 = 4 days (minimum)
  3. Sidemount Essentials Advanced Nitrox = 4 days
  4. Sidemount Essentials Advanced Nitrox Deco Procedures = 7 days
  5. Sidemount Essentials Tec 40, Tec 45 = 6 days
  6.  Sidemount Essentials Tec 40 Tec 45 Tec 50 = 8 days
  7.  Trimix Training Course(s) for PADI and TDI available – please contact me for details, a lot is based on your current experience and qualifications.

Please note: additional PADI/TDI training materials and certification fee(s) apply (pre-study recommended).

What can I do once certified and what to try next..?

All future technical level courses can be done whilst wearing sidemount once you have done the initial Sidemount Essentials training. Here is a test I suggest you try, it should prove how good the sidemount essentials program actually is… I suggest you visit my fan page, then look at all the sidemount essential divers and view anyone of their facebook profiles and you will see if they are still using sidemount or not 😀

I look forward to your questions and the chance to train you in sidemount. If you are an experienced instructor and want to offer this Sidemount Essentials Course to others then read my instructor level training courses below.

Steve offers all TDI and PADI technical courses in sidemount configuration only…

Technical Diving Courses ...TDI and TecRecI have been offering PADI DSAT and later TecRec courses since 2004, in 2008 I learned to sidemount and have never looked back. It is true I loved diving with a backmounted twinset, but once tried sidemount I have yet in several years needed to donn a twinset. This is because quite simply put sidemount works in my opinion better for all forms of technical diving. The trick is knowing how to sidemount correctly and that is where I can help you.

What course options are there..?

Training courses and certifications offered in the TDI range, Advanced Nitrox, Decompression Procedures, Helitrox, Normoxic Trimix or Full Trimix. I also offer the full range of equivalent levels under the PADI TecRec system, see details below…

  • Tec 40 -The entry point into the technical range, it provides a transition from recreational to tech. Although the use of full tech gear (doubles and wings) is preferred, it does allow modified use of recreational gear in some situations, provided the diver has two separate regulators, with one of the first stages fitted with a long hose. The intended working limit for a diver of this grade is 40 metres/130 feet with up to 10 minutes of non-accelerated decompression while breathing up to EANx50.
  • Tec 45 -The diver now must wear the full ‘standardised’ tech rig, including wings and doubles, plus an additional deco cylinder. (Note that side mounted cylinders are an acceptable alternative to back mounted doubles throughout the TecRec range). The course will allow the diver to go to 45 metres/145 feet and make accelerated decompression dives using any mix of EANx or oxygen.
  • Tec 50 – At the end of this course the diver will have the same set of skills and knowledge as the present Tec Deep Diver. As such it represents a high level of competency for a technical diver. Although the option exists to make the last dive of the course using trimix, it is intended as an air/nitrox rating and by the end the diver can dive to a maximum of 50 metres/165 feet and make extended, accelerated decompression dives.
  • Tec Trimix 65 – This course opens up the advantages of trimix to the diver, and divers are qualified to make multi-stop decompression dives that employ EANx and oxygen for accelerated decompression, and any trimix with an oxygen content of 18% or more. They can dive to a maximum depth of 65 metres/210 feet.
  • Tec Trimix – This level is essentially the same as the existing course of this name. Therefore there is no numbered suffix after the course title — there are no limits are placed on how deep the diver can go after training, providing they build their experience gradually.

What do I need to start..?

TecRec prerequisites vary (best to contact me), but the following applies to anyone interested in technical diving:

    • 18 years or older
    • Medically fit for tec diving (physician’s signature required)
    • Willing to accept the added risks that tec diving presents
    • An experienced diver with at least 100 logged dives
    • Certified as a PADI Enriched Air Diver and PADI Deep Diver or equivalent (equivalencies vary please contact me for more information)

Technical Diving Courses ...TDI and TecRec 2

It is best to contact me with the level your interested in and I will provide you with all information you require. For the costs of each course, please email me with your location. I do offer training all over the world, you just need to check with me when I will be close to your area and I can talk with a local dive centre and put together a course schedule for you. More details of how I operate are explained on my sidemount course training page.

What equipment do I require..?

Below is a list of the equipment you require for making technical dives in sidemount configuration, I may be able to provide the equipment for you. If you have your own I can help you customise it to get the most from it and the course with me.

  • Mask, Fins & Suitable Exposure Protection (snorkel optional)
  • 2 Single Tanks
  • 2 Primary Regulators and 1st Stages
  • (Stage Cylinders and Regulators extra)
  • 1.5 to 2m long regulator hose (recommend Miflex)
  • Sidemount Harness & BCD (approved by instructor prior to the course)
  • Dive Tables, Depth Gauge & Dive Timer (or Dive Computer)
  • Divers Tool or Knife
  • Slate with Pencil
  • Two Surface Signalling Devices (whistle & SMB or signal mirror)
  • Reel & SMB (if required by local regulations)
  • Compass
  • Multi Pouch Or Pocket
  • Redundancy Equipment (spare bungee, double ended bolt snap, cable ties and mouthpiece)

What can I do once certified and what to try next..?

There are many levels of sidemount specialties after you start down the technical training ladder.

If Carlsberg made Cave Courses in Sidemount…

Cave Diver Training Courses MexicoThey would probably be offered in Mexico and look like this;

My goal is simple, it’s to offer you one of the best cave training courses available. After each course I run, I take the time to sit down and re-look over every aspect of the course, focusing on how each day can run better, the ideal locations, the equipment, logistics and ways I can best video document your training experience… Depending on your current experience level and any cavern or cave level certifications you already have, I then determine what days of my program you need to do.

Types of cave training;

  • Cavern Training – allow 4 days.
  • Intro to Cave Diver – allow 5 days.
  • Full Cave Diver – allow 8 days.
  • Upgrade from Intro to Full Cave – allow 3 to 4 days.
  • Stage Cave Diver – allow 3 days.
  • DPV Cave Diver – allow 3 to 4 days.

Only x3 student spaces are available per course; once the 1st person books in that will fix the exact course dates for other students. You need to allow additional days before & after course (for practice or guided dives).

All you need to do;

  1. Arrange time off work for yourself (and family if you want to bring) suggest 7, 10 or 14 days.
  2. Book your flights to Cancun, Mexico and accommodation in Playa, Puerto Aventuras or Tulum.
  3. You only need to bring essential equipment; suitable exposure suit, mask, fins & dive computer, I can provide the rest.

What I will do;

  • Pick you up & drop you off each day from your accommodation, days generally start 8am to 7pm.
  • I provide cylinders, transport to dive sites (daily entrance fee varies & payable by you, approx. 10 to 20 US per day).
  • I provide you with complete sidemount cave training equipment.
  • Daily basic lunch provided between dives, you can also bring your own.
  • Debrief you with HD video feedback during training, all videos are yours to keep after training.
  • We will make a 50+ picture photo album and 4 to 5 minute highlight video of your course, this will appear on my Side Mount Scuba Diving facebook fan page.

So how does it work exactly;

Most divers come to me for a full cave training course, this takes 8 days from start to finish. The first 4 to 5 days are the intro to cave level and the last 3 to 4 days are the full cave part. Once the full cave is completed it is normal that divers stay on and do 1 or 2 days additional guided cave dives where we visit some special non-training caves. If 10 days straight is too much diving for you don’t worry, I can do first 5 days to complete intro then everyone has a day off to rest then we can continue… more rest days can be added if needed, best to discuss this with your holiday needs in mind.

Still not sure what you might need, don’t worry I suggest you contact me, with your experience and let me know your current diving certifications and I can then let you know what you need to complete either via emails or better over a Skype call.

Who can join;

Any diver that is at least 18 years old, has a advanced open water certification (or equivalent) with 50 logged dives. Courses will be conducted in sidemount, you do not need to be certified in sidemount to join, I will include training and certification within the training. One of the most important skills a cave diver must master is buoyancy control, depending on how good you feel you are, I will suggest upon talking to you and at booking stage, if you should take an (optional) day or two before the cave course start doing an open water sidemount workshop.

If you have no sidemount experience and/or you feel you are not very competent with your diving essential skills, buoyancy, trim & finning techniques, then I suggest you do 2 days prior to each of our 8 day program.

Here is a basic outline of what we will do;

  • Day 1 – Cenote Ponderosa – Theory, land and open water workshop on buoyancy, trim and propulsion techniques.
  • Day 2 – Ponderosa – Theory, land and open water “stress test” skills circuit and instructor lead cavern dive.
  • Day 3 – Chikin Ha – Theory, line laying workshops, cavern dive and instructor lead intro to cave dive.
  • Day 4 – Taj Mahal – Theory, x2 intro to cave level dives.
  • Day 5 – Taj Mahal – Land workshop, x2 intro to cave dives with missing diver and lost line drills 🙂
  • Day 6 – Car Wash – Theory, Navigation and open water water skills circuit, instructor lead cave dive.
  • Day 7 – Minotauro – Theory, x2 cave dives with restrictions and air sharing.
  • Day 8 – Gran Cenote – Theory, x2 cave dives with complex navigation.

I will provide regulators and sidemount system (if needed), you just need the rest.

Cave Diver Training Courses Mexico 2Cave training equipment list;

  • Wetsuit (5mm or 7mm) water temp 25*C
  • Wetsuit Hood (3mm or 5mm) or hooded vest
  • Suitable fins and wetsuit boots (no split fins, call me if you have been using these)
  • Mask (suggest black silicone)
  • x3 Non-directional cave markers/rem’s & x3 Directional line arrows
  • x2 backup lights (small, suitable for helmet mounting)
  • x1 canister light suitable for cave diving (I can provide if you do not have)
  • x2 line cutting devices (suggest eezycut)
  • x1 saftey spool (approx 30 metres long)
  • x1 wetnotes
  • x1 Dive computer
  • x1 timing device (watch or dive timer)
  • x1 compass (can be a small button compass for watch, suunto make a clipper compass)

I can provide helmet for use during training. Dive lights need to have a 4 hour burn-time (minimum).

Remember: all equipment can be provided during training, this will include complete sidemount system, regulators, lights, cave equipment. You just need to bring suitable fins, exposure suit and mask. If you have your own equipment please provide me with a full list so we can check its suitability before you bring it.

Sounds amazing, what does it cost..?

I usually take a 25% deposit (ideally via PayPal) upon booking confirmation.

  • Sidemount workshop (optional) – 300 USD (per day).
  • Intro to cave course (5 days) – 1500 USD.
  • Full cave upgrade (4 days) – 1200 USD.
  • Complete cave course (8 days) – 2400 USD.
  • Guided cave diving (includes 2 dives) – 300 USD (per day).

All courses will include your final certification and will be sanctioned TDI cave courses. If you join the complete cave course and are very competent moving through the training days, the training can be completed in 7 days, if so I will either reflect this in the price or do an additional day of guided diving (including video filming).

More information & help with booking;

Please contact – – Skype name: steve626508

I hope this is a good enough reason for you to drop everything and come over, don’t be one of those people wishing you would have 😉

I want to teach sidemount will you train me..?

Yes, but there are conditions (please read in full).

Firstly, the sidemount instructor course I offer is unique to all the rest; join me and become an official Sidemount Essentials instructor.

Instructor Level Training Courses ...available WorldwideSidemount Essentials is a custom speciality, that I have been developing over the last 6 years. Starting from 2017, I have decided to offer this level to instructors who have a real proven passion for sidemount diving and looking to offer the highest quality Side Mount training to their students. Any instructor that has this credential constantly receives training updates from myself, ensuring their teaching abilities remain up to date and consistent with my own.

You must first take my student level course and then spend time developing your own sidemount diving skill level, before I will consider you to become a Sidemount Essentials instructor. There is no fast track option to getting this instructor credential, sorry. This is the only way I can assure everyone else, that you have taken the right initial sidemount training and then put the time in needed to become a highly competent sidemount diver, before offering this level of training to others.

Sidemount diving is something that I have spent the last 6 years changing my life and business around. I only want to work with people who have a true passion for wanting to teach sidemount diving and who are looking to really make a real difference within the dive industry.

Reasons to offer Sidemount Essentials;

Firstly it will separate you from all the other “Side Mount Instructors” in this now booming market…

  • Enables you to build a solid name and reputation for yourself in the sidemount training world.
  • You will be offering my Sidemount Essentials specialty, which has a world renowned quality stamp on it.
  • Students will pay for valuable training.
  • Steve Martin will be supporting and backing you 100% as a sidemount instructor.
  • I will also back and support your business, helping you and it stand out from the others.

Please note: there are restrictions placed on how you conduct the sidemount essentials course; this is to ensure worldwide consistency between instructors and maintain the reputation and creditability of the Sidemount training program.

How do I maintain my Sidemount Essentials Instructor rating;Instructor Level Training Courses ...available Worldwide 2

  • Attend an annual training update, conducted by Steve Martin (2 days)
  • Use only the latest up to date teaching presentations and videos
  • Maintain the fixed course price for the sidemount essentials program
  • Only use the approved sidemount equipment listed on the Sidemount Essentials course page
  • Training must take place over a 4 day process, strictly following the skill sequence and course outline
  • You can only offer this sidemount course to others (maintains quality and value)
  • Any changes to the training outline must be authorised by Steve Martin
  • You will pay Steve Martin a fixed fee per student completing this training course.

After we have agreed that you are ready to become a sidemount essentials instructor. You will join a sidemount essentials course I am conducting and assist a minimum of x1 complete training course. I would be training you to become a competent instructor, not just giving you a ticket to teach. So if you are not up to scratch then more work would be needed before I can provide you with this certification. Training with me to become a sidemount instructor is not going to be the easiest option, the most valuable and rewarding, offering you a sustained income in the future …most likely!!

Instructors I have trained and currently authorised to teach this program for 2017 are;

  • Vas Proud, his facebook profile (view here)

Please note: All instructors that wish to keep on this list, will need to meet the conditions above. That way I can be sure the students receive the best sidemount training from any instructor I am seen to be endorsing.

Some training is worth paying that bit extra for…

I offer training in Mexico and Gozo (Malta), occasionally I offer training in the UK.advice-and-tips-for-new-divers

Soon I will be releasing courses dates for 2017… Please take your time and read through this page.

Course prices include;

  • All tuition & instruction from Steve Martin
  • All air fills (nitrox & helium mixes are at extra cost)
  • Courses will run 1on1, if your the only student booked in (max x3)
  • I will provide all sidemount diving equipment (if required)
  • Hire of a suitable sidemount mount harness & BCD
  • Hire of a sidemount regulator system
  • Hire of a set of sidemount cylinders, hardware & weights
  • Certification (if required)

What is not included;

  • Dive facility in Gozo cost €40 per person, per day.
  • For Mexico there is a $10 to $20 per person, per day, dive site entrance fee instead.
  • The training materials for standardised courses (students required to study before they arrive)

5-cylinders-to-no-mount-demonstrationPlease note: My online training membership access will be charged at 50% once you book onto a course. If you have these materials already 50% will of there cost will be deducted from your course training fees.

For other standardised TDI and PADI courses I recommend you obtain the course materials/manuals prior to the course, so you can study in advance (e.g TecRec Deep & Trimix Manuals, TDI Nitrox/Decompression Procedures Manuals). You are required to bring your personal mask, suitable fins, dive computer and exposure suit (dive centre can provided if needed at additional cost).

All training dives have a maximum depth limit of 30 metres, skills dives generally conducted between 8 and 10 metres (unless your booked on a technical course)

Training Options and Costs;

  • Guided Diving (per day), I either do custom daily training or guiding; I include photos/videos as I do with all training.
  • Sidemount Experience is aimed at all backmount or twinset divers that want to try out sidemount, this session runs over a 1/2 day.
  • Sidemount Essentials Course is done over 3 or 4 days, with 6 to 8 training dives suitable for all levels of certified diver.
  • Sidemount Stage/Deco Cylinder Handling workshop is done over 2 days and is suitable for experienced side mount divers only.

Please note: All my training runs on a fixed daily rate. €275 EURO (in Gozo), $300 USD (in Mexico) and £250 GBP (in UK) this is all per person, per day.

You just total up the amount for example 3 days of any kind of training in Mexico is 900 USD. I generally run all courses with 2 student, 3 is my maximum and if a training course actually has 3 people on it this makes the days a little longer for everyone, so in return for this I will reduce all daily rates for each person on the course by 10%. All courses will run even if you are the only person booked on. If you book in as a group of 3 people, you get a 10% discount per person off all training rates.

Cave Training Courses …see training options on actual section (above)

TDI Technical Courses …I train all divers in sidemount configuration only

    • Guided Technical Diving (per day), I either do custom daily training or guiding; I include photos/videos as I do with all training.
    • Sidemount Essentials + Advanced Nitrox, can be done over 4 or 5 days with at least 8 dives, suitable for all certified divers.
    • Sidemount Essentials + Advanced Nitrox + Decompression Procedures, can be done over 8 days with at least 12 dives, suitable for all certified divers.
    • Advanced Nitrox + Deco Procedures can be done over 4 or 5 days with at least 8 dives, suitable for all certified sidemount divers.
    • Helitrox or Adv Wreck or Trimix Experienced Side Mount Divers, days vary based on dive experience, contact for more information.

Sidemount Essentials Training with Steve Martin

Please note: All TDI Technical courses include the hire of cylinders and equipment but does not include the gas fill costs or any boat costs to get to the wrecks – all tec courses can be completed with shore dives (boat dives optional). I do offer a special discounted rate for guided dives (including photo/videos) this is for any divers who have already booked onto a course, dive centre day rates gas costs need to be added depending on the type of diving you are doing.

PADI TecRec Courses …I train all divers in sidemount configuration only

  • Guided Technical Diving (per day), I either do custom daily training or guiding; I include photos/videos as I do with all training.
  • Sidemount Essentials + Tec 40, can be done over 4 or 5 days with at least 8 dives, suitable for all certified divers.
  • PADI Full Tec Deep Course (Tec 40 to Tec 50), can be done over 8 days with at least 12 dives, suitable for all certified divers.
  • PADI Tec 65 & Tec Trimix, can be done over 6 to 8 days with at least 8 dives, suitable for certified tec 50 divers.
  • Tec Advanced Sidemount Wreck Course (Custom Speciality), 5 days and minimum 8 dives, suitable for experienced sidemount divers.

Please note: All PADI TecRec courses include the hire of cylinders and equipment but does not include the gas fill costs or any boat costs to get to the wrecks – all tec courses can be completed with shore dives (boat dives optional). I do offer a special discounted rate for guided dives (including photo/videos) this is for any divers who have already booked onto a course, dive centre day rates gas costs need to be added depending on the type of diving you are doing.

Students will need to:

  • Book flights, accommodation (contact me for recommendation list)
  • For Gozo (Malta) courses, I usually have an apartment with 3 bedrooms, this means 2 bedrooms are available for students during training (contact me for rates/availability)

Terms and Conditions:

  • A deposit of 25% is required upon booking (if this will be a financial problem, contact me)
  • Deposit is withheld upon cancellations (without 1 month cancellation notice)

Bookings and Enquiries:

It is essential that we get in touch, so we can discuss your current diving skill level, your expectations and goals of your training. I work on a day by day rate, and courses such as “Side Mount Essentials” have a minimum set number of days. This is set to ensure that you receive the right amount of time to practice and develop the necessary dive skills needed for the foundations of your sidemount development. Having a “structured” course also allows you ample time to absorb and retain the information presented during that course. Any additional days to complete training will be charged at my day rate.

Side Mount Training with Steve MartinBook now by emailing I am happy to spend 15 to 30 minutes with anyone via Skype to discuss your sidemount training, this will not cost you anything…

I want you to be happy with the training you receive…

So this means, if you are not satisfied at the end of your first day, you reserve the option to cancel your further training days without further payment, no problems and no hard feelings. If after day 1, you are 100% satisfied with my training then your sidemount development can continue! So for just one day of your time you get the chance to find out if I am the right person to be training you. As a professional, I would much rather somebody be 100% satisfied with the training they receive than feel obligated to stick with something they are not necessarily happy with.

Why do you offer this money back guarantee..?

Having myself taken many training courses from a variety of instructors over the years, I have found that, while sometimes the course I paid for was enjoyable and did indeed meet my expectations, there were often occasions in which a course I enrolled in and paid for did not fulfil these same expectations and was not a rewarding or enjoyable experience. In hindsight, my training development would have been a much more fulfilling and enjoyable experience had I taken the time out to properly research each individual instructor and their training philosophy’s.

So I believe that you should retain the right to choose whether or not my teaching style and philosophy is the right one for you. I am confident in my teaching ability and understand that some people may choose not to continue their training. And so therefore, I am more then willing to spend the necessary time training with you, in order for you to make that decision.

I believe in always teaching to the best of my ability and I believe my training is more than worth your time and commitment. If you would like to know more, you can view what others have to say in the testimonials found on the about page (view here)

Side Mount Essentials Training is now available in Gainesville, Florida

Looking for training in Florida ?

Our freelance instructor Joseph Seda is now offering endorsed training courses out of Gainesville

Joe completed his side mount essentials instructor course with Steve Martin after an intensive 2 weeks of training in April 2017

For group training over a long weekends, Joe might be able to travel to a dive site near you, note additional travel expenses may apply

Please contact Joe directly for available course dates

All instructors follow strict training guidelines

All students must enroll and complete relevant online training prior to taking any in-water courses regardless of instructor

Training currently offered in Florida is side mount experience conducted over 1 day or side mount essentials taking 3 to 4 days

Workshops also available for all levels of certified side mount divers who are looking to improve their skills or learn something new like stage and decompression cylinder handling – 727.470.5513

2017 schedule and training locations …find out where I will be and when !!

I will be in Australia, until February 2017

After I will be back in Mexico, contact me for my course availability. New training calendar coming soon, check back here for details.

Please research your future instructor carefully!!
…not all training courses are the same.

Ask yourself has your future instructor;

  • Written & developed their own proven training courses
  • Have the experience and ability to train dive instructors
  • Uploaded YouTube videos, inspiring and helping divers
  • Trained hundreds of divers in your chosen configuration
  • A website and facebook fan page with 5600+ subscribers
  • A public YouTube channel with 5000+ subscribers
  • A proven history of actual dive experience in your chosen field
  • Given unbiased advice on equipment selection over the years
  • Advised & worked with dive manufacturers to make equipment
  • Been invited to host talks & seminars around the world
  • Lastly eat, sleep & breath around your training course time
    online courses sold

    Years of experience


    Trained students