SENIOR LIVING: Water aerobics among YMCA’s most popular programs

Published 2:18 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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A pool full of senior adults in shoulder-deep water, stretching, bobbing and bouncing to upbeat 1970s and ’80s hits is a typical weekday morning scene at the Stanly County Family YMCA.

The scene on this Tuesday morning consists of 28 adults in the ABC (Aquatics Body Conditioning) class in the YMCA’s warm pool. Similar numbers are found in other aquatic fitness classes, all of which are offered on weekday mornings.

“These classes are extremely popular,” says Stanly Family YMCA Executive Director George Crooker, adding that evening classes were once offered but discontinued during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They may be restored “early next year,” he said, because of demand.

And it’s not just “splashing to the oldies” that draws participants in.

“It’s as much a social event as it is an exercise class,” Crooker added.

While YMCA literature describes the classes as targeted toward “active older adults,” all ages are welcome.

“We’ve had as many as 50 participants in a class before,” said Crooker.

Instructor Kim Bowers, a Norwood native with more than 30 years experience teaching water aerobics, describes the class as “the best and safest workout here.”

Safety is indeed a priority, as the class is held in a pool with a maximum five-foot depth. All class exercises are “head above water,” a lifeguard is on duty during the class and participants use “water dumbbells,” which are made from foam and plastic, and float in the water while creating resistance during exercise.

Participants come from all backgrounds, and include some married couples, including Linda and Dennis Layton of Norwood.

“I’ve been in the class since I retired,” said Linda, “and it’s wonderful…it’s a good workout without the impact of traditional exercise.”

“The warm water is good therapy for the joints when you’re dealing with arthritis,” added Dennis, who has had both hip and knee replacement surgery.

Other participants described the class with positive enthusiasm.

“I love it,” said Terri Peck, a retired educator with Stanly County Schools, with Amy McHale, who makes the drive from Uwharrie Point twice a week to attend, echoing her sentiments.

“It’s a great class and a great group,” she said.

Stanly County YMCA Water Fitness classes include:

• Joints In Motion: Instructors will guide participants through a low impact warm water workout. Exercises are aimed at improving joint range of motion and reducing joint stiffness and pain. Great class for beginners, participants with back pain, arthritis or recovering from surgery.

• ABC (Aquatic Body Conditioning): 45-minute cardiovascular workout performed in the shallow end of the pool. Designed for all levels.

• AquaFIT: A shallow water workout in the warm pool. Class incorporates a variety of equipment designed to increase your heart rate and tone muscles.

• Water Wake Up: 45 minutes of intense aerobic exercise in the deep water using flotation belts.

• Aqua Flex And Tone: A warm water class involving broad movements of the arms, legs and torso.

Go to or call the Stanly Family YMCA (704-982-1916) for schedules and additional information.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.