Kristen Lodge: Exercise, laughter and camaraderie, in water
Lori Damon stands in front of the pool area at The Grand Park Community Recreation Center and instructs the 24 men and women in the pool who are laughing and smiling as they bob up and down following her lead.Two people swim over to me as I watch the class.”It’s not as easy as it looks,” one of them says.I think it looks hard. Damon is a certified AEA instructor and is also certified by ACE, which are the governing bodies of aquatic fitness, and land-based fitness certification, respectively.”Many of the exercises we do in class are based on active, daily living,” Damon said. “The movements translate to activities you do around the house or when you are out in the world.” Minutes before the end of the 45-minute session, the participants walk into the Lazy River and they walk a few laps. Then, once back in the pool, they all use balls to perform floating and balance exercises.The senior aquatics program is free to participants, said Damon. “The reason they all come is for fitness and to manage health.” The weekly senior aquatics program is funded by grants through the Grand County Council on Aging. Everyone in the community is invited to attend as long as they are 60 or older.Sharon Schoenberger wrote the grants that started the senior aquatics program. She is the senior coordinator at the Grand County Council on Aging.She was awarded two grants: one from Wells Fargo Community Assistance fund and another from the Alpine Area Agency on Aging.The senior aqua-fitness class began in 2010. Now, the program is a collaborative endeavor between the Council on Aging and the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District.Damon loves working with the older adults, she said.She has been mentored by Judy Gerard, who as a board member at the Grand County Council on Aging, organizes the senior fitness program. During the class, Gerard gives individual help to participants in the pool, while Damon leads on the pool deck.Benefits of water exerciseAqua-aerobics is good for people who want to manage chronic pain or disease, said Damon.”Water is a supportive environment. In the class, participants do things they can’t do on land, and they don’t have to worry about falling down.” It also improves muscle symmetry, flexibility, and range of motion by working your arms and body against the water.The health benefits of aqua fitness have long been recognized, particularly to the senior population, according to Schoenberger. Aqua fitness is an excellent cardiovascular workout that will strengthen the heart muscle and improve the blood flow to the heart and lungs.Swimming can help to lower blood pressure and improve stamina, balance and flexibility. It is a healthy, low-impact activity for all participants and can relieve stress and tension, even help to combat the aging process.Nancy Henry is a Granby resident who has been coming to the weekly senior aerobics class since May 2011. “Lori is an excellent instructor,” Henry said. “Every week is different and Lori really encourages us.” In addition to the benefits of exercise, the class can be adapted to specific injuries. “The class can be as hard as you want,” she said. “Your body can do it. For people who feel they are over the hill, you’re not. It is about exercise, laughter and camaraderie.”
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