DuBOIS — Rose Ward and Helen Glowacki have thrown on their swimsuits and jumped in the pool at the DuBois YMCA three days a week for about the last 30 years. Now in their 90s, both women are easily considered the YMCA’s water aerobic veterans.
“It gets your body moving in the morning, when you get old anyway,” said Ward, who is 95 years young. “If you get up in the morning, you could sit in a chair with your coffee and couldn’t care about anything. But if you have a schedule to keep, just come down here, that gets you in, you get moving, your blood gets going, you get woken up and you start talking, and that makes your day. When you leave here, you’re a different person.”
Glowacki, 92, agrees.
“It makes your whole body feel good,” Glowacki said.
Water aerobics, also known as aquacise, is a low impact, low intensity water class, according to the DuBois YMCA website, and is a great way to be introduced to the therapeutic environment that the pool has to offer while gaining flexibility and improving one’s overall health.
“You don’t have the pressure on your knees. You don’t have that pounding,” said instructor Barb Murray. “In the water, we’ve had people get both knees done, and they come back. They get more out of the water than they do going to physical therapy. You can lift that leg higher in the water. There’s a lot of good. Just like the ladies, if they’re afraid of the water, they stand on the side and hang onto the side of the wall.”
Glowacki, who had back surgery years ago, said the warm jets in the pool helped her recover and they still feel good on her back.
Socialization is an integral benefit of many types of physical activity, and aquatic exercise is no exception, said Murray. It’s how Ward and Glowacki met and have grown their friendship.
“We’ve lost a lot of friends over the years — God’s called them home, and that’s hard because you become very close in here,” said Murray, who has been an instructor at the YMCA since 1984. “We’ve had beautiful Christmas parties, we pray for each other, we are a family. That’s the best I can say.”
Aquacise is a class for all ages and there have been at least 40-some students at a time, give and take, over the years, said Murray, noting that there are about that many participating currently.
“They used to have a nice visiting place here until the pandemic hit,” said Murray, pointing to an area in the main lobby. “They just opened a coffee room up about a couple months ago. The chairs are spread out, but they would always come out. And if they couldn’t get in the water, some would drive in just to have their social time together.”
When the YMCA was closed during the pandemic, Glowacki and Ward said they felt like they lost something out of their lifestyle.
“You had an empty spot that you used to do something,” said Ward. “But thank God, we never got it. I got the shot.”
“We had some that were afraid to come back for awhile,” said Murray. “But the vaccine is helping. They feel more relaxed.”
Ward thinks it’s unusual that people take notice of her being active at her age.
“I don’t know why all the fuss — other people get old. I don’t even think about my age,” said Ward. “I drive. I still go back and forth to Reynoldsville where I was raised down there. I go back there all the time, and then as long as I’m physically able to go I will.”
Ward says her late husband, who was a physical education teacher, probably had a big influence on her to remain active over the years.
“He used to jog six days a week, 5 miles each day,” recalled Ward. “He was very active.”
The pair encourages others who feel comfortable in water to try the class out — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30-9:30 a.m. There are also classes from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Once people join they have fun,” said Murray. “That’s what brings them back.”
“For two old girls, I think we look pretty good,” said Ward.