Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness: You’re never too old to enjoy the water

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By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.      

 Let me start by saying, “well Ms. Mary Mosley, you don’t have to talk about me so bad any more; it’s done-thank you for not giving up on me.”

Have you ever considered exercising at 60-70 or 80-years-old with limited movement or not a whole lot of muscles? Well there is one way of exercising that is both enjoyable, not too strenuous and it is an excellent way to increase your cardio vascular needs.

According to the young Olympic hopefuls, one of Fort Lauderdale‘s best kept secrets is the Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness Class. Just kidding about the Olympians; however, the latter part is true.

On Monday through Friday mornings from 7:15 -8:15, you can find 20-30 feisty seniors vigorously working out in water aerobics. The exercises are very therapeutic, for they are designed to allow seniors to increase flexibile joint stability, balance, muscle strength and cardio endurance.

For the past few decades there has been a group of senior citizens- “go getters”- who every morning t are able make their way to their ‘healing pool’ for a day of relaxing, communing and exercising.

May Bynes-Richardson, one of the babies of the group, says for her, “it’s a time to commune with others and receive the benefits of movement and activity that is most needed for us as we begin to age and them old ladies have a lot to educate us young folk on.”

Water aerobics is a perfect form of exercise for seniors because the buoyancy of the water reduces the stress and pressure on the joints.

Instructor Brittany McClendon believes that you should meet the needs of the class by reaching them where their abilities are. “I adapt the exercises to meet the various physical activity levels of the group,” she says with a smile of confidence.

Dr. Ellis Parker, Sr., the “Headmaster” of the group, attributes his abilities to move around freely and with much pain to his involvement in this program. “Much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known preventive measures. One key measure includes practicing a healthy lifestyle   along with a glass of good wine.

If the old saying is true, “like water off a duck’s back” it would appear that these seniors have achieved a measure of that good quality. Rain or shine, hot or cold, these enthusiastic seniors, whose ages range from a young 50 to a younger 80, eagerly stand at the ready with excitement and a gritty boldness.

Mary Lou Bonner, who is a young 80 or something, has been a member of the group since the beginning. “It is a great place to get a full body workout, while hanging out with the other young people and it’s good companionship. When I’m not under the weather, I make my way down here to just be around others my age and to laugh,” Ms. Bonner said.

Everyone can join in the fun; No one is left out. Start exercising at a low intensity (especially if you’ve been mostly sedentary), and progress gradually.  Ms. Evelyn Smith, who was extremely active in the community with a numerous organizations stated that nothing would stop her from serving. Do to complications from health issue, Ms. Smith has slowed down a little but not enough to keep her away from the group. When she can, her son still brings her out to get a dip in the pool even though she is in a wheelchair.

With that infectious smile of hers she looked into my eyes when I asked her how she was doing, she said, “ I just like to come out and if I can get in I do and if not just being out with friends is good.”

Blacks are disproportionately impacted by diabetes, hypertension, obesity, et al, so aquatics as a form of physical training is one of the best, most effective  exercises. Being low impact, it is perfect for a person of any age.

Periodically, the group gets together socially for luncheons, parties and other activities. These seniors are true 21st century gladiators living healthy lives. “Water aerobics is the best medicine they could ask for that’s not in a bottle,” says long time participant and benefactor of the program, Marvia B. Simmons.

Exercise is great of benefit; however, another important aspect about this program is that it allows others to see older people enjoying themselves and learning to get over the fear of the water.

This is important because as you may not know, parents and adults that have a fear of water and cannot swim usually raise kids that can’t swim. Statistics say that Black children under the age of five years die from drowning disproportionately to other groups.

Valerie E. Gibson aka (Bubbles) retired from Fl. State Department of Juvenile Justice has found a passion for Water Aerobics at Bass Park.

“It’s a great bond with the ladies. We get together every holiday for planned events. Our recent endeavor was to make a donation to Andrew Gilliam, candidate for Fl. Governor. The ladies gave me the nickname because I like to make “Bubbles” in the water.”

Michell Parrish-Green—I retired from FL Department of JJ and joined Bass Aquatic Club.

At the start of each day I look forward to fraternizing with the ladies at my water aerobic club. They provide so much knowledge, wisdom and hope for a better and brighter day. We have developed a very close bond of love and appreciation for each other.” We are Family. I got my sisters, brothers, father and mother with me at Bass Aquatic Club”

Ethel Pearl Maloney says, “It’s good to have companions to exercise with you because it will help you stay on a regular schedule, add to your enjoyment and that’s what this group does for me and besides it keeps me younger.”

As only an artist could put it, our own Bennie Edwards says that “like art, regular physical activities, healthy eating, and avoiding bad karma is beautiful and the ladies and gentleman at Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness Class, all of them are beautiful.”

Some of the exercise tips for older Americans that the American Heart Association says is good for them are found in the activities of Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness Class. If you have a family history of heart disease, check with your doctor first before beginning any exercising program. It’s a good idea to have a physical examination and take a graded exercise test before you start your program.

Pick recurring, repetitive activities that challenge the circulatory system, and workout at an intensity appropriate for you. Pick activities that are fun, that suit your needs and that you can do year-round. Because muscular adaptation and elasticity generally slow with age, take more time to warm up and cool down while exercising. Make sure you stretch slowly.

To all of the participants of the Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness Class- all of you- including the men, don’t stop doing what you are doing and since you all are old enough to remember, as Clarence Carter said in his song, “keep on stroking!”

If you’re interested in finding out how to join the Bass Park Golden Aqua Fitness Class contact Bass Park at: 2750 NW 19th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311 or Phone: (954) 828-8983

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About Carma Henry 13575 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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