Friday, November 11, 2011

Having Fun and Getting Stronger at my Local YMCA

(This blog entry covers experiences from the summer of 2006 until later that year.)
The instructors at the Oviedo Y were amazing. So patient and understanding. They always made sure I was safe and they kept a watchful eye on me as we went through the various water exercise routines. I also felt safer knowing that the life guards were right there, too. When I was ready to exit the pool, the life guard on duty would come to the edge of the pool, near the stairway, and would bring my walker over to a location where I could readily reach out and get it. They did this for everyone with special needs and their kindness was most appreciated. Instructors such as Jane, Yolanda, Kim and Barbara -- all gave me their time and guidance as I made my way through this difficult period of adjustment. 
The simple act of getting in and out of the pool was an exercise routine all its own. I was still having challenges with steps, which is why I did some follow up physical therapy in the summer of 2006. Stairs would continue to be a “problem area” for me. 
Weeks turned into months and before I knew it, I was going regularly to the pool for sessions and getting stronger with each passing month. I felt great and loved the freedom that the water offered me. Where I had so many “on land” restrictions, in the pool, I felt so free and carefree. I could jump and enjoy myself without pain. It was such a wonderful feeling. 
After I became stronger and felt ready to tackle a new program, I began a chair exercise class. This is where the participants are seated, usually in a circle, and work routines to strengthen the upper body as well as the lower body. However, all routines are done while sitting. We used equipment such as exercise bands, light hand weights and balls. 
Once I became even stronger, (This was a decision I personally made.) I started the popular Silver Sneakers class. This 45-minute class is done with participants sitting and standing for various routines. (You can choose to sit through a routine, if necessary or preferred.) Chairs are lined up in rows and attendees also use the bands, weights and balls as part of the session. Music helps make the sessions lively. 
When I began Silver Sneakers, I met two other Y instructors -- Andrea “Dre” and Jamie. Instantly, they became good friends. Since I like variety, I tired to vary my work out schedule each week. I did, at least, two water classes per week. Then, I added two Silver Sneaker workouts. I was definitely keeping active, and the more I exercised, the better I felt. My personal program of “getting better and stronger” was actually working. There was no way anyone could have ever convinced me that I would enjoy exercise classes as much as I did. The more I did, the better I felt. (Yes, I have heard professionals say this all the time, but seriously, I never believed it.) 
The Silver Sneakers “gang” (as I personally referred to them) were also a great bunch of men and women. Some did water classes as well, while others were simply committed to the Silver Sneaker program. Again, I was basically the “baby” of the “class.” However, I was made to feel welcome and I must add -- many of these individuals gave me a “real run for the money.” That is, I had to work extremely hard to keep up with some of the participants. My classmates may have been 10-30 years older, but many were in “fantastic” physical condition. As I saw it, I had my work cut out for me. They inspired me to work to a level I never thought possible. 

(Just a quick note. If you ever find yourself needing rehabilitation of this kind, do not hesitate to utilize any facility that offers up a heated pool, especially an indoor one. To this day, it remains my favorite type of exercise. I love the overall freedom I feel in the pool -- it’s exhilarating! I can jump up and down and not feel any pain. That amazes me. When I do other forms of exercise, there is definitely pressure on my joints and on my hips, knees and feet. But in the water, I have this buoyancy that is nearly beyond description. It is a great form of exercise for those suffering from any form of arthritis or who have had an injury that affects that joints or bones. Consult with your physician first before doing any type of exercise but chances are, they will sign off on this type of activity when you are ready.)

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