Water aerobics

Participants in a water aerobics class at the Bullhead City Municipal Pool do a deep stretch as directed by Zarhia Walters, near the center of the pool looking toward the right.

BULLHEAD CITY — Water aerobics is one of the more popular offerings at the Bullhead City Municipal Pool.

Some sessions draw up to 45 people seeking low-impact, high-resistance group exercise that can improve cardiovascular health, muscle tone and overall well-being.

The norm is 35 to 40 people in the pool for the morning class. It’s currently offered Monday through Saturday in the mornings from 10 to 11 a.m. An evening class meets Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6 to 7 p.m., according to the Parks and Recreation pool schedule, through Sept. 30. 

The pool is closed on Sundays.

On a recent Thursday morning, there were 41 people stretching or doing light jogging to warm up.

Zarhia Walters, 19, led the class that morning. There are various instructors for classes.

She said she plans to become an emergency medical technician. 

Walters said she enjoys interacting with the participants, a group composed of people who recently had surgeries, injuries or other medical and physical problems that make other forms of exercise difficult or even impossible.

“I try to keep it fun,” Walters said. 

Water aerobics can alleviate the pain of arthritis and other aches, create muscle mass and help achieve weight loss.

And because most of the movement is in the water, participants can do a lot of kicks, crunches and other movements but not realize it — at least not until they notice the post-workout muscle soreness later.

Walters said she often will provide alternatives to people with physical challenges that might make some exercise movements too difficult — even in water. Over time, she said, she has gotten to know most of the people and can design a workout to best suit them.

An example: Some people doing an exercise move meant to enhance core strength can use a noodle for support while others need to hold the edge of the pool for more support. 

Walters smiled when she talked about exercisers who tell her about feeling sore after the class.

“They know that was a good workout,” she explained.

She said she spends most of the session in the pool, demonstrating exercises while verbally motivating the participants.   

Many of those participants are seniors.

“I’ve been coming since 2008,” said Gail Koch, 81. “I can’t do floor exercises, but this keeps my joints moving.”

Koch has undergone knee and hip replacements but said her back gives her the most problems.

She said she attends water aerobics as often as she can, also going lap swimming. There are days when she’s in the pool twice for water aerobics and once to swim, she said.

“It really helps,” Koch said. “This is my entertainment.”

She comes whenever the pool is open, which except for maintenance is year-round. 

Koch is far from the only participant extolling the virtues of the program.

“It really keeps me going. If the pool wasn’t here I don’t know what I’d do,” said Dar Vanderpool, 80.

She said she has survived lung cancer, has broken her hip and suffers from neuropathy in her feet.

“If it wasn’t for this pool, I’d be laying in bed all day,” Vanderpool said. “It’s fun, relaxing.”

She said she attends the morning class and sometimes also can be seen in the pool during lap swimming. 

Another regular, Debbie Baye, 59, had lung cancer.

She said she goes to morning and evening classes along with lap walking in the pool.  

“I love it,” Baye said. “You get pressure on your chest. That helps you take deep breaths.”

Koch and other regulars interviewed find it sometimes chilly during winter. They wear wetsuits or rash guards on those occasions to keep their arms warm because their arms are raised above the water most of the time. 

In cold weather, the water is heated to between 74 and 80 degrees.

The women also said that it’s one of those local and affordable things to do that is not as well known as it should be.

Go to www.bullheadcity.com and go to Departments, then Parks and Recreation, followed by Aquatics, for prices, schedules and other information.

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