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Wellness in the water

‘The water has something to offer everyone’

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July 19th, 2016
Water aerobics class at Tallgrass Creek pool.

Water aerobics class: (front row, from left) Anne Kyle, Elna Ponto, Wellness Coordinator Cydney Cunningham, (second row, from left) Dee Suddarth, Jean Janecek, Lorie Stapp, Martha Moss, (third row, from left) Joan Grant, Judy Turner, and Debby Williamson.

The water is warm and welcoming all year round in the large, glass-enclosed swimming pool at Tallgrass Creek, an Erickson Living community in Overland Park, Kans. The water temperature hovers around 88 degrees for an always-relaxing experience whether it’s January or July.  

Wellness Coordinator Cydney Cunningham knows Tallgrass Creek’s pool well, as she oversees all water-based activities and exercise classes. Her longtime love of water sports and exercise is obvious to residents who participate in her eight exercise classes each week. 

Life-changing exercise

“The water exercises, for me, have been life-changing,” says Marvelee Converse, who started water aerobics classes about nine months ago.

Marvelee was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 46. After encouragement from both husband Bill and Cunningham, Marvelee decided to try water aerobics. 

“The difference in my mobility was evident immediately,” says Marvelee. “I’m able to move in the water in ways I can’t move on land. It’s very freeing.”

These days, Marvelee rarely misses a water aerobics class and continues to make progress. 

“It’s not only good for the body, it’s good for the head and soul,” says Marvelee. “I am a true believer.” 

Gentle resistance, deep stretch 

To keep her water workouts fresh and interesting, Cunningham occasionally refers to a thick binder that contains handwritten workouts, detailing every water workout she’s ever taught.

“I started it 12 years ago when I began teaching water exercise and continue adding to it,” says Cunningham. “It helps me remember different techniques I’ve used so my classes don’t become predictable.” 

One of those water aerobics classes is called Aqua Gentle Joints. Offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:00, Gentle Joints is an introductory 45-minute class that promotes moderate exercise to help participants understand basic movements in the water.   

“The goal is to increase everyone’s range of motion,” says Cunningham, also a certified lifeguard. “The water offers very gentle resistance so it’s easier to stretch large muscles.”

The more challenging Aquamotion class meets right after Gentle Joints. Class participants utilize various exercise tools such as noodles, weights, dumbbells, and large web-shaped gloves. The gloves were added to the pool’s inventory after being promoted for all water aerobics participants, regardless of age, to reduce gripping of exercise equipment or the side of the pool.

Participants in the class are encouraged to increase their heart rate as they jog laps across the pool and do different suspended water exercises. The exercises increase stamina, balance, and mobility, and strengthen core muscles. 

Water aerobics classes like Aquasize and Aquamotion are designed to gently challenge coordination and flexibility. Exercise schedules are available in the on-site fitness center. 

“We have classes for beginners as well as classes for people who have taken water aerobics for years,” says Cunningham. “The water has something to offer everyone.”

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