Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
One recent morning, Joanne French has graciously invited me to participate in one of her water aerobics classes.
Once Post photographer Wayne Hinshaw leaves, I slip into the water.
The classes typically last 45-55 minutes, with warmups, aerobics and strength training, followed by a cool down.
Don’t think that just because you’re in the water, it’s not a workout.
It’s a workout.
We start by stretching out arms, as about 12 women form a loose circle around Joanne, chatting quietly.
(Once Wayne leaves, the second class is much chattier. That doesn’t bother Joanne a bit ó she’s loud enough that everyone can hear her.)
We go into a series of kicks, backward and forward, then to jumping jacks, which are difficult on land but easy in the water.
From there, we shift to cross country ski moves as the lifeguard looks on.
There’s no music in water classes, just the splashing of the water and the echo of the instructor’s voice.
The morning sun shines on the water.
In a few minutes, it gets quiet as the women get more intent on their workouts.
We move from one end of the pool to another.
Some of the women have their hair fixed and their makeup on. A few even wear earrings, while others are more casual. A few men join the group as well.
The group then starts working with water weights.
(I realized later that was more of a workout than I thought ó I was a little sore the next morning, but not bad.)
We work the weights to the front, to the side, up and down ó about every direction you can think of.
Then it’s to the side of the pool for more work before we cool down.
Lifeguard Sarah Zander, who’s also been teaching the Zumba dance class, says there’s not much movement of members between land-based and water-based classes. Each has its own base of people.
But, she says, “Water exercise is for every age and size. We have evening classes and they come out of there hot and sweaty. You do not have to be old to do water exercise and reap the benefits.”
One of those people who has reaped the benefits is Sylvia Butler. Ten years ago, she was in a wheelchair, the result of a broken back.
“I couldn’t hold a newspaper or walk through Wal-Mart,” she says.
Water aerobics changed that.
“I love it,” she says. “I also don’t want to be in a wheelchair.”
Cat Harrison is a former YMCA board member who began taking water aerobics classes 10 years ago.
“I love it,” she says. “When you’re by yourself, it’s something to do.”
Joy Hamilton is relatively new to the program ó she and her husband began coming in December.
“I’m a water baby,” she says. “I love the water.”
She’s looking forward to having husband Don rejoin her after his bout with pneumonia.
“We enjoyed that together,” she says.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or