Beating the heat and staying fit is a great combination being enjoyed by nearly 40 participants, primarily seniors, in SwimAmerica's Aqua Aerobics class held 9-10 a.m. Monday through Friday at Yosemite High School.
The class is led by second-year instructor Peggy Decker, director of the Oakhurst Boys & Girls Club.
"The ladies, and a few gentlemen, crave this class and love it," Decker said. "It's as much a coffee clutch and social event to them as it is a workout."
Decker has plenty of experience as a water aerobics instructor. Before moving to Oakhurst, she taught aqua aerobics as well as senior aqua aerobics, and special needs aquatic classes at the Santa Rosa YMCA for seven years.
"In this aqua aerobics class we do strength building, swimming moves, stretching, cardio, a little yoga and we even throw in a little can-can," Decker said. "It's an amazing exercise program for anyone with joint or muscle problems, as it's very low impact, yet you have the resistance of the water to help tone up the body.
Decker encourages all class participants, who range in age from eight to 90, to go at their own pace.
"My students don't need to do exactly what I do just what they can do comfortably," Decker said. "We use Styrofoam pool noodles and float belts, and some of the students bring other aquatic aerobics equipment and weights with them for added extra workout. I always promise to tone everyone up by the end of summer and have an awesome tan to go with it."
Arnell Pippin attended the class last year and was quick to sign-up this year. She exercises five days a week in the winter at the Fitness Zone, but cuts that back to a couple days a week when the Aqua Aerobics class starts.
"The pool is a neat place to exercise, but exercising in the pool is a lot harder than it looks," Pippin said.
She supplements her workout with a styrofoam dumbbell.
"It's just styrofoam, but it soaks up the water and is heavier than it looks," Pippen said.
"Whether it's in the pool or at the gym, Pippen enjoys the social aspect of exercising with a group of people. She admits she was less than faithful to her exercise program a few years ago, but got serious after some heart trouble 15 years ago.
"It was then, on my doctor's advice, I started a routine exercise program," Pippen said. "I'm doing pretty good for a 78-year-old."
"I love teaching the class it's like having 40 new grandmas, and many new friends," Decker said. "My mom even shows up almost everyday. You never leave without a laugh and smile, and the students would all agree. Sometimes when we have the pool to ourselves on Fridays, we play Big Band music during the workout. The jokes are many and hysterical, and it's an excellent way to start every day. Water, laughs, and sunshine."
For the past two years, Decker has heard from participants how much they would love to be able to attend the class year around.
"That would be great, but we have yet to find a pool where scheduling would allow that to happen," Decker said. "It would be so amazing physically and mentally to be able to provide this service year around. There is certainly a huge need for a year around pool in this community for our seniors, that is close to Oakhurst.
"We checked all over last year for a pool we could use," Pippen said. "Everyone would be happy to pay a fee, but we have not been able to find an indoor or a heated pool to use in the winter."
"After a decade in aquatics, I can say the list of benefits of aqua aerobics is monumental," Decker said.
The class costs $4 a day, $10 a week or $30 a month. The class will continue through Aug. 16.
Details: SwimAmerica, (559) 324-SWIM (7946).