Water aerobics an easy way to strengthen your body, improve your health

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Water aerobics, instructed by Arlene Fernberg (far right), is offered to the public at Hoffman Hall, Monday through Friday at 8:15 a.m. All ages and abilities are welcome to participate periodically or every day. The first class is free. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

Working out in the water is one of the most therapeutic activities a person can experience. Water aerobics builds cardio, strength and resistance all while being easy on the joints and in a cool and relaxing atmosphere. Such activity can also improve the cardiovascular and respiratory system in the same way as cycling or running but, of course, it’s low impact.

Some 15 to 21 participants take part in water aerobics at Hoffman Hall regularly. Class is offered from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. Monday through Friday in the facility’s Olympic-sized, handicapped accessible pool. Currently, a second class focused more on strengthening than full-fledged aerobics, is being considered for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. New class members are invited to join any day they wish; the first class is always free.
Arlene Fernberg is the instructor and was new to the Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Department in September.

“The class is very welcoming. We’ve had lots of new people,” Fernberg said. “We have people in their late 40s to their 80s, people who’ve had knee and hip replacements, some who are looking to strengthen their core. We’ve even had an autistic young man.”

Water aerobics is intended for both women and men and it’s not limited by age or ability. Fernberg said the wheelchair lift can assist anyone who has difficulty walking to get into the pool.

Styrofoam pool weights are used with the program, typically 1, 3 or 5 pounds in weight. Some participants bring their own weights too, she noted. Everything is done in the shallow end of the pool.

Each water aerobics class is a four-step process. It begins with certain exercises that stretch the upper and lower body. Next, the focus is balance, then aerobic moves and finally weights. Modifications are offered throughout the 45-minute period, though Fernberg said most of the moves are “very easy to do.”

“The most important part is we’re bringing up our heart rate,” she said. “Overall, it’s just fun. Not everybody comes every day either. Anyone can show up at any point for any reason and get something out of the class.”

Water aerobics is an ongoing class offered all winter. Showers and locker rooms are available on-site. Fernberg added that the parking lot and sidewalks are always clear and salted early, throughout the winter months as well.

“It’s very accessible, affordable and a great way to stay active in the wintertime,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me they sleep better at night after doing water aerobics. I have one lady who said the strength she’s gaining is helping her to do more stuff in her job. Many of the participants are finding it’s been very helpful to them.”

If interested, community members and non-residents are welcome to simply show up to a class or call Hoffman Hall at 326-2985 with questions.

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