Coronado Water Aerobics Class Has More To Offer Than Just Exercise - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Coronado Water Aerobics Class Has More To Offer Than Just Exercise

by Alessandra Selgi-Harrigan | Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2019 12:00 am

Exercising in water definitely has a relaxation element, apart from being good for the body and mind. Water aerobics classes have a long history in Coronado. Participants have found that it’s not just an exercise class it’s also a place where you can find people you have many things in common with.

Some students have taken the class for as many as 40 years, while others are newbies, but they all agree on one thing - the friendships forged in the class are precious. Fellow water aerobics students call each other if one person doesn’t show up, they share rides and write cards if someone is not well. Some have shared more than just a ride, some share experiences, like Pat Taylor and Gwyn Bent who both lost adult children and through their common grief they have become tight friends. Taylor, a retired teacher, lives in North Park and has taken the class for about 10 years. She even convinced her husband to take the class. He takes the 8 a.m. class with her and while she takes the 9 a.m. class, he bikes along the bike path.

The water aerobics group is truly like a family. “It’s amazing to me the stories we share. We talk about problems and go through a lot together,” Taylor said.

She credits Bent who reached out to her after Taylor’s daughter passed away with helping her go through a hard time. “We bonded,” she said.

At one point Taylor and a fellow student named Phil shared an interest in growing plants and gave each other cuttings. Taylor explains that the group is also sort of a book club. “We share titles and talk about it during the class,” she said.

Although there is the the social part, water aerobics is a good form of exercise. Water aerobics is a type of resistance training and compared to aerobics on land, it has the elements of added water resistance and buoyancy. The heart works just as hard as regular aerobics exercise and pumps more blood to the heart. It’s a fun and effective for any age and participants don’t have to be strong swimmers.

Dorothy Delasalas has been participating to the class for 40 or more years. A friend told her about the class and the two were supposed to meet at the pool one day. “She never turned up but I took the class,” she said.

Delasalas has been taking the 9 a.m., class everyday except Saturdays and Sundays. Her friend who was standing nearby, Mary Merrill, has been attending the class for 18 years and she considers herself a youngster because of that. “Since I met Dorothy my life has never been the same,” she said with a big smile.

She and others call Delasalas “Deep end Dorothy” because when Merrill first started the class Delasals hung out in the deep end of the pool.

Friendships and support are very important for the participants. “We learn a lot from one another,” said Delasalas.

The class has other benefits too. “It helps my arthritis and my whole being. I look forward to this. I couldn’t do without it,” said Delasalas, who is 84 years old.

Merrill found out about water aerobics after she retired from a career in teaching. “I was running near here with a trainer and the trainer suggested, ‘This could be good for you.’ I came. I didn’t know anyone and noticed a lady at the back of the pool (Dorothy)” she recalled. Merrill has been taking the class ever since.

Students at the class range in age from their 60s to their 80s and come from varied backgrounds and cities. Former physical education teacher Chris Duryea has taken the class for 43 years. “It’s the best thing you can do. You jog in place, do aerobics stretches, bursts. It’s a very excellent cardio program. We do arm work and sit ups. We call this our own fountain of youth. To me it’s the best club anyone could belong to. It’s great group of gals. There are some men, four or five, and they enjoy it too,” she said.

The group gets together outside of class once a month. Duryea took over organizing the monthly luncheon for the group once Jeanne Shoemaker, fellow water aerobics friend, passed away. The luncheon is always held at Miguel’s Cocina on the last Monday of the month.

Another former teacher, Judy Andrews, found water aerobics after she had breast cancer. “I feel really good, it strengthens my back. My oncologist said “keep doing it.’ It’s the best exercise ever,” she said.

“You can’t worry about what you look like. Some people laugh when they go by on their bikes. You can’t worry about it, just get in the water,” said Barbara Lohlein, a 30-year water aerobics student.

Some mornings it is hard to get out of the bed, especially on cold winter days, but Lohlein says that the support she gets from the other students is very important. “Knowing your friends are here will get you out of bed. When you make a habit of it, it’s very healthy. I feel I’m in better shape that ever…it helps with having better heart rate, sleeping and maintaining myself graceful at an older age,” she said.

The community center pool will be closed for the month of November so the group is sad and will miss each other. “Everybody will be back,” said Lohlein.

The class uses water weights and some students have their own webbed gloves, which help to get more of a workout, and a floating belt. The class usually has about 25 students and in the summer it can grow to about 30. Classes are at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.