WA­TER WORKS:

Swim class keeps se­niors ac­tive

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By DARA MCBRIDE

ELK­TON — There’s noth­ing like tak­ing a dip when it gets hot out.

But while some might be ex­cited to try out the new out­door pool at the YMCA of Ce­cil County, there’s a group of se­niors (the “Splash­ing Se­niors,” to be ex­act) that’s just as happy to keep us­ing the in­door pool.

Stu­dents in this class aren’t try­ing to bench press at the beach. The goal is to just move. Some are deal­ing with joint re­place­ments, run­ning with the help of a pace­maker or have vary­ing de­grees of men­tal ca­pac­ity.

Class in­struc­tor Rachael Lawrence ex­plained it’s no prob­lem if a stu­dent doesn’t get the moves ex­act.

“Any­thing they do in the wa­ter is OK,” she said. They can adapt moves as needed and go at their own pace. In one class, Lawrence had stu­dents try to bal­ance on wa­ter. Some were able to, and some weren’t – so they just fol­lowed along with the other moves.

Lawrence, 42, got into group ex­er­cise on land. She has about 20 years of fit­ness in­struc­tor ex­pe­ri­ence and has been teach­ing the “Splash­ing Se­niors” for about five years. She also teaches a gen­eral “Aqua Fit” class, which is sim­i­lar but more in­tense.

As a teacher, Lawrence finds the “Splash­ing Se- and will joke that her stu­dents feel like her “backup dancers.” She said she will no­tice stu­dents bud­dy­ing up and help­ing each other.

The class is for­mat­ted sim­i­lar to any other work­out class, al­beit with some dif­fer­ences. Al­though there is a warmup pe­riod, it looks more like a meet and greet. Stu­dents ad­just to be­ing in the wa­ter and Lawrence chats with the class about what’s new. Then Lawrence starts in­struct­ing 30 to 40 min­utes of car­dio be­fore lead­ing a cool down.

Sometimes, it’s the lit­tle vic­to­ries that are im­por­tant.

“We’re go­ing to get you back to walk­ing to the mailbox,” Lawrence said.

While the class usu­ally has a pretty steady turnout, Lawrence said class size will go down in the win­ter when se­niors are liv­ing in warmer cli­mates or have more dif­fi­culty get­ting around. Al­though the out­door pool is now in use, it will not be used for the class since it bet­ter suits the class to work­out in­side.

Mil­lie Jones, Linda Ayres and Dian John­son, who are all in their 70s, come ev­ery week. They agreed the class helps them stay healthy – and it’s fun. class dou­bles as a so­cial ac­tiv­ity, as stu­dents will of­ten sit down and talk over cof­fee af­ter class. The group also or­ga­nizes a hol­i­day lunch and will make plans for other ac­tiv­i­ties and trips – this July they will even go tub­ing down the Brandy­wine River.

The pro­gram is co-spon­sored by Se­nior Ser­vices and Com­mu­nity Tran­sit and the YMCA, and open to se­niors 60 and older, so se­niors can get in for just $10 a month. That the pro­gram is avail­able at such a low cost is im­por­tant for se­niors, typ­i­cally a group on a fixed in­come.

A com­plete range of mo­tion ex­er­cise pro­gram, it is de­signed for flex­i­bil­ity and mus­cle strength­en­ing – not nec­es­sar­ily for the for­mer star swim­mer.

Doris An­der­sen, who takes her par­ents to the Y on Mon­days and Wed­nes­days and watches from the side­lines, said she is “thrilled” with the class.

“This has just been a god­send,” An­der­sen said.

Her par­ents, Don and Dona Field­house, are 90 and 84, re­spec­tively. An­der­sen said the pro­gram has helped with their mo­bil­ity and bal­ance. Don was ner­vous about com­ing, jok­ing the women. Re­cently, the class has seen a small but grow­ing group of men. Al­though he usu­ally only works out for about 40 min­utes be­fore head­ing for the hot tub, that’s still an im­pres­sive and im­por­tant 40 min­utes for the 90-year-old.

The class gives Dona, who is now in a wheel­chair, her free­dom back.

“I can do any­thing in the wa­ter, but not on land,” she said.

She is a long­time Y mem­ber and took wa­ter aer­o­bics for sev­eral decades, she said. Al­though this class takes things a lit­tle slower, it shares some of the same con­cepts. She cred­its reg­u­lar ex­er­cise with why she re­mains healthy and mov­ing to­day.

“It I hadn’t been do­ing this for years, I wouldn’t be here to­day,” she said.

How­ever, she’d love to see her adult kids join her in the class.

“They need to ex­er­cise,” she said. “You can’t do the kind of things you used to do.”

Par­tic­i­pants must regis­ter for this pro­gram in person with the Se­nior Ser­vices and Com­mu­nity Tran­sit Cen­ter. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 410-620-3101.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY DARA MCBRIDE

Rachael Lawrence laughs as she has fun in­struct­ing a se­nior fit­ness class at the YMCA of Ce­cil County.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY DARA MCBRIDE

Rachael Lawrence, now a swim and fit­ness in­struc­tor with the YMCA of Ce­cil County, has about 20 years of fit­ness train­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

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