In 2007, after being diagnosed with sugar diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, I was prescribed a series of medications for these problems. But although I was eating correctly and doing all the right things (I thought), I began to feel worse. My back started to hurt and I became very weak, and , at one point, could not even walk. I felt that all my strength had left me and I felt really depressed. I went back to my family doctor who sent me for an MRI and then to a neurosurgeon who, after reading the MRI, informed me I had 22 cysts down my spine that could be causing the pain. He also indicated that there was nothing he could do except prescribe more medication for the pain.
My husband, Mac, and I sat down to discuss what could be done about my situation. I had the definite feeling that a lot of the problem could be the combination of my medications and the cysts. I definitely did not want to take pain medication for the rest of my life, so, although we both knew I was not keen on exercising, we both thought an exercise program could help.
Somehow fate had a miraculously way of intervening in my life. During our discussion the mail arrived and among the mail was a flyer advertising exercise programs at the Katie and Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center. Mac immediately noticed the classes for water aerobics and pointed out that this could be the answer "even though you don't swim", like the water or want to get your hair wet! ť But, at this point I felt I had nothing to lose, it was worth a try and we made the call that would change my life. The flyer indicated that we should call Kaytina Haack, Aquatics Director for the JCC. I explained my health problems to her, that I did not like the water and definitely did not want to get my hair wet. Her advice- just come try it out and wear a shower cap! Mac and I went to the JCC that very day and signed up. The next day, scared to death, I took my first aquatic fitness class - that was August 2007.
It was my good fortune that the instructor for this was Robyn Dowling, a wonderful and caring person who made me welcome right at the start. It seemed like Robyn and Kaytina had been sent just to help me through my problems. They both took the time to make sure I did the exercises correctly without pain and I decided to also take some personal training from Kaytina to help with faster improvement to the point that Robyn encouraged me to take a higher level program. She even went to the first class with me to make sure I could handle the moves. It was not long before my back stepped hurting, my blood sugar and cholesterol levels dropped and I could stop taking the medications. I occasionally still have a pain in my buttocks (definitely not from Mac!) but once I get into the water it always feels better. My worst days are on the weekends when I donâ€™t get into the water so I have to make sure I donâ€™t sit around too much.
Becoming a Certified Instructor
Right from the early days after meeting Kaytina and Robyn they encouraged me to become an aquatic instructor. I could NOT believe they thought I could do this, but because all the other people in the class were so supportive of me I agreed to try. I asked Robyn how to get started, where could I go to get the best instruction? She said I should contact WaterART Fitness International Inc., which I did in and in march 2008 I became an instructor at the JCC. In order to be able to help more participants in the water as well as myself I began to take more programs and workshops from WaterART. Last year Shane Whatley, the Aquatics and Recreation Coordinator at the JCC asked me if I would be interested in becoming a (water) Personal trainer. I replied â€śI will go for it!â€ť I took the WaterART certification and later that year I also became certified as a Rehabilitation Specialist. My plan is to be able to help other people just as Kaytina and Robyn helped me.
From Problem-Person to Part-Timer:
When I first began instructing the classes I would not teach from the deck. I did not want to leave my comfort zone in the water even though I knew there were times when I should be on deck to demonstrate moves for the class. However it was not long before I gained sufficient confidence and now, without hesitation, I can teach from the deck when the need arises. My goal is to teach the class a lot of functional moves to help perform daily activities on land safely by working on good posture while getting stronger. I am now a part-time employee of the JCC where I instruct 8 classes a week. These comprise: 4 classes for Senior fitness, 2 for Advanced Senior fitness, 1 for Water Walking and 1 for Mind-Body (Tai-Ch, Yoga and Pilates).. I also have personal training clients.
Better late than never!
I wish that I had started this type of fitness program earlier in my life but, as a friend reminded me â€śThere is a season for everything and this was YOUR seasonâ€ť. I am not sure how everyone else feels abut water but I know one thing; if I had not taken to the water I would not be able to do all the things I can do now. My thanks goes to WaterART Fitness for having all the different types of program available to meet every kind of fitness need. One day I may have to go on medication again but for now, I am able to stand tall and stay fit in the water where my joints are protected, I am stronger and my flexibility and cardiovascular fitness has increased.
My thanks also goes to Kaytina, Robyn, the other JCC instructors and the special people in my class who have encouraged me without fail through every decision I have made. Of course the best thanks go to my wonderful husband, Mac, who has supported and shared this life changing experience with me as well as 45 years of marriage. Of course my fitness experiences would not have been possible without my faith in God and His help. My love to all of you.
STAND TALL AND STAY FIT!!
Barbara is an exemplary example of the how water exercise may change
Your life for the better. We hope you will be inspired to reach out to help others