Tallgrass Creek Residents Keep Fit on Land -- and on Water

OVERLAND PARK, KS  (May 4, 2015) -- Tallgrass Creek retirement community residents are enjoying more group exercise classes – everything from  Dance Fusion to Aqua Core 'n More to Strength Training – on land and on water these days. The fitness schedule was recently updated and enhanced by Fitness Specialist Camin Bell and Wellness Coordinator Cydney Cunningham, who both joined the Resident Life staff earlier this year.

Bell, who is in charge of land-based fitness, and Cunningham, who oversees all water activities, have each brought some of their favorite forms of exercise to Tallgrass Creek. Together, they manage 21 fitness classes each week, offer one-on-one personal training, and maintain the community's fitness center and temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed indoor pool.

Bell holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has taught a variety of classes for more than 25 years. While in the Pacific Northwest for 17 years, she performed in dance companies, taught dance classes, and helped implement exercise programs at a retirement community in Seattle.

"My background in dance includes extensive knowledge in kinesiology (the study of human movement) and anatomy," says Bell. "Dance is a great, fun exercise that promotes physical and mental well-being and is perfect for all ages."

Bell added a class called Dance Fusion to the schedule, which involves 45 minutes of rhythmic movements to music while standing and sitting. The coed class meets weekly in the clubhouse classroom.

"The class goes by very quickly," says Phyllis McCalmon. "You almost don't realize you're exercising."

Bell also added a weekly gym circuit class to the lineup, which introduces participants to the different pieces of equipment in the fitness center.

"We have great equipment in the fitness center," says Bell. "But it can be intimidating to try new equipment, so this class allows people to try it in a supervised, safe way." 

Other land-based classes available to Tallgrass Creek residents include Stretch and Strengthen, Sit and Get Fit, Gentle Yoga, and Men's Only Strength Training. Tai chi classes meet Friday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and are taught by retired physician and resident Merrill Stiles.

Cydney Cunningham discovered her passion for water-based exercise and activities as a high school lifeguard.

"What began as a way to get through college turned into a passion for water exercise and physical therapy," says Cunningham. "I just fell in love with it."

Cunningham graduated from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and has worked at the North Kansas City Community Center for the last ten years. She implemented and supervised the center's pool activities and organized programs for all ages, including seniors.

Cunningham has added two new classes to Tallgrass Creek's array of water exercise choices. Aqua Gentle Joints is a slower-paced class that meets twice a week and focuses on moderate exercise to help relieve joint pain. The more challenging Aqua Core 'n More also meets twice a week.

"In Aqua Core, we utilize different pieces of equipment that help participants keep their feet off the ground while exercising," says Cunningham. "The suspended exercises in the water are definitely a tougher workout but great for increasing stamina, balance, and mobility."

Other 45-minute water aerobics classes offered throughout the week include Aquasize and Aquamotion—gentle supportive workouts in the water designed to challenge balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility. All water aerobics classes take place in Tallgrass Creek's large, temperature-controlled pool.

Bell and Cunningham will soon offer fitness seminars featuring outside professionals. They love the “let's do it” attitude they have found at Tallgrass Creek and are grateful they have found a place where their passions are also their careers.

"There is such an interest at Tallgrass Creek in fitness and living well," says Cunningham. "We are inspired and motivated by the residents we work with every day."