When Pat Williams, 76, dips into the large sparkling blue pool at the Homewood Senior Center on Granada Drive each week, she can feel her youth return and her aches and pains slip away.
Williams joined about 25 other participants from various East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging senior centers for a 90-minute aquatics exercise class July 23.
“I just enjoy coming out here,” she said. “I can do things in the pool that I cannot do as well outside of the water. The water resistance exercises help you sleep well, and it’s good for arthritis.”
Council on Aging fitness instructor Lance White stood in the center of his class leading seniors through a series of water exercises from leg extensions, paddle wheels and lunges to water walking activities.
His participants ranged in age from 60 to 80-plus years, said Charlotte Turner, director of senior centers for the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging.
“They are competitive too,” Turner said.
Thanks to a $60,000 donation from United Healthcare, some 65,000 seniors in the Baton Rouge area have an opportunity to participate in water-safety education, receive aquatic therapy and, in the near future, take swim lessons at the Granada location, said Corey Williams, director of resource development for the Council on Aging.
Following aquatics classes, seniors are provided a free, hot lunch and can participate in a variety of games and activities held at Homewood’s senior center.
Pat Williams said she is thankful for the pool, which opened in April.
Her back and foot problems are masked during aquatics classes. Walking and working out on the treadmill can sometimes hurt, but the swimming pool has the opposite effect. “It’s so relaxing,” she said. “It’s better than walking.”
Several senior center site coordinators, including Alice Toombs, of the Leo S. Butler center, helped supervise and motivate seniors who participated in Thursday’s water activities.
“I tell them about the physical and social benefits of getting in the pool and meeting other people each week,” Toombs said.
Pat Williams said Toombs is encouraging, motivating and concerned for her members’ safety.
“I tell them,” Toombs said regarding swim class, “you have to try it. I try to approach them in a Christian manner and I talk to them with respect and about loving and caring and checking on each other.”
Other seniors, including John Richardson, 76, of the Greater King David senior center, take the class for its health benefits. “I have arthritis and pain in the knee, and it helps with the pain,” he said.
Pool exercises help keep Richardson feeling young, he said.
“If at this age you don’t get up in the morning and do anything, you’ll lay up feeling down and the day is gone and you’ll feel the same way and that will become a habit,” he said.
For information on volunteering or learning more about senior activities and centers, visit ebrcoa.org.