The tide has been rising lately for water aerobics classes in the warm-water swimming pool in the Marjorie P. Lee retirement community in Cincinnati’s lovely Hyde Park neighborhood.
“We’ve had an influx of people joining our class, especially with newer residents moving in,” Wellness Coordinator Monique Lamb said this month. “I had my biggest class ever last Friday. I had eight people in the pool.”
A warm-pool welcome for newcomers
“We’re getting a lot more people, and the new residents we have moving in, they’re more on the active side, and a good majority of the residents moving in have been interested in the pool,” Lamb said.
Some of them had prior experience with aerobics classes and were enthusiastic about joining in. Another, who has extensive experience with pools and swimming – he swam all his life – has been telling Lamb about his grandkids’ swimming competitions. He swims laps in the mornings.
Someone who has been participating in Aqua Aerobics is five-year Marjorie P. Lee resident Barbara Christman, who typically visits the pool one morning early in the week and then takes the 9:30 a.m. Friday aerobics. The 45-minute class also happens at 2:30 p.m. Mondays.
She was born and raised in northern New Jersey, “so I spent a lot of time in the ocean,” she said. “I do enjoy swimming, and I always lived near a pool or the ocean.”
She and her husband lived in New Jersey for five years before Procter & Gamble transferred them to Cincinnati in 1962. They lived 40 of those years in Anderson Township, where their four children attended Turpin High School, and she moved to Marjorie P. Lee from Mount Washington.
Unlike the ocean at times, “The water’s nice and warm,” Christman said. “I’m all about warmth.”
Inviting water temperatures
The pool’s water temperatures are usually “from 87 to 88 degrees – bath water,” Lamb said. “And I know the residents really enjoy that because it helps loosen their bodies up.”
“Oftentimes, if you’re cold, you have a tendency to tense your body up, and you stiffen up,” she said. On the other hand, “If you’re in the warm-water setting, you’re able to relax your body and have a full range of motion.”
“I do enjoy the warm water myself,” Lamb added. “I see I’m able to do more than I would be able to do on land, just having more flexibility. I have the ability to lift my leg further up versus if I were on land.”
Aqua aerobics also helps participants get a workout but without as much strain or stress on their bodies and without the soreness that can happen the day after other kinds of exercise.
Also, “You feel a little energized after the workout, and not feel, ‘I’m exhausted,’ and sore afterward.
Resident Kate Powers, who worked out with Christman and Lamb one day this spring, said she enjoys simply “the feel of the water, and it is a really lovely temperature.”
She also appreciates the body's natural flow of movement in the water – and the fact that many water exercises relax and elongate the muscles.
“My body just desperately needs stretching,” Powers said. With some of the exercises, “I can feel myself starting to stand up straighter, in a way that’s comfortable.”
She also enjoys the chitchat during exercises, as does Christman, who notes: “When you’re really swimming, you can’t really have a conversation. So I only do that once a week, and come here for the (Aqua aerobics) exercise.”
Lamb loves the ability to be creative with the exercises she leads the class to do. They do a good variety, including occasionally silly things like jumping jacks, which participants are able to do in the water.
“They don’t have gravity working against them and don’t feel as exerted in the water. So they’re able to do jumping-jacks, bunny hops, the sky is the limit when it comes to the exercises we’re able to do in the water,” she said. "That’s one thing that I really enjoy.”
As with the aqua aerobics and other wellness programs, there's an overall new energy at Marjorie P. Lee, said Anthony Williams, the services administrator for the continuing care retirement community (CCRC), which offers independent living apartments, as well as other options for when residents' health-care needs change. Those include assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care.
"We've had a lot of new residents move in recently, as we come out of the COVID period, and restrictions have been lifted," he said. "It's really brought a sense of energy to our community as a whole."
"I will also say our residents, with their COVID shots and boosters, are becoming more comfortable in we'll call it a 'post-COVID world," Williams added. (The public health emergency prompted by COVID recently ended, to the delight of residents and Episcopal Retirement Services team members.)
"We're adapting to the new world we live in, and they're more comfortable coming out and being engaged, and just getting re-energized after being locked down for a couple of years," he said.
In another move that follows the end of the health emergency, next weekend, Marjorie P. Lee's Archea dining room and Adams Cafe will reopen on weekends for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and residents will be able to invite guests for lunch and dinner.
To schedule a tour of Marjorie P. Lee, contact Jennifer Schlotbom at 513-533-5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.