YMCA’s rehabilitation workout a splash for seniors
Published 10:10 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015
For more than 25 years, Beth Sojourner has trekked to the YMCA and dipped into the pool with a diverse class of people eager to go for a swim.
With foam weights and a sprightly pep, Sojourner — who started out as a participant herself — guides a class of around 15 who use it as a unique way rehabilitate injuries and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“I had some free time after I dropped my daughter off at school,” Sojourner said of how she found interest in water aerobics. “I started taking the class and instructors left and found other things to do. I’ve stuck with it ever since.”
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This particular class may seem like simple exercise, sometimes even mandated by doctors, but the men and women who come for the workout stay for the camaraderie.
“It’s the fellowship that keeps us coming,” Sojourner said. “We’re all from different parts of the community with different lives, different situations. It’s a nice place for us all to meet.”
Hazel Kline Dixon has been crossing the state line from Tallulah, La. for eight years to come to the water aerobics class.
“I was in an accident and I had to go to physical therapy. After I finished my physical therapy, they told me if you can come here three times a week, you can go in the water three times a week,” Dixon said. “My son decided that he wanted me to do that, too, so he paid for my year membership and came with me until I got acclimated. I’ve been here ever since.”
The water allows the seniors to move with more agility and perform exercises they may not be able to fully complete on land. It also provides a resistance for working out and improves the use of joints with people who have arthritis or similar chronic diseases.
“Since I’m retired, I wanted to find something to keep me active. I work in the yard and I wanted to help limber up my body and keep it in shape,” Linda Parker said. “I want to keep working in the yard and keep moving. Once you retire, for a while, you’re in limbo with what you want to do with your time. This helps to keep me motivated and be active.”
After an opening stretch session, the class lifts hand weights in the shallow end and performs cardio exercises in the pool. Sometimes to work the shoulder muscles, they’ll throw Nerf balls back and forth across the length of the pool, and the session culminates with leg weight training.
It’s a productive, fun way for people to grow in both mental and physical health, Sojourner said.
To those who go every week, jumping in the pool for a workout is always a splash.
“It keeps me moving and going. I have to walk with a cane and I have knee problems along with my back problems because of the accident,” Dixon said. “ It lets me do things on land I wouldn’t normally be able to do. I love it. That’s why I keep coming,”