Swimming — or even just moving in the water — is a great way to stay active, and in Centre County, it doesn’t have to end when summer ends.
The State College YMCA located on Whitehall Road offers various aquatic exercise classes including a class that helps with flexibility, strength and joint pain called Water Walking.
For the past 10 years, Sarah Hamlen, a State College resident, has taught sessions of this course. The class lasts about 55 minutes and includes a warm-up and cool-down. Hamlen covers aerobics, strength, stretching, endurance and most importantly fun during her classes.
Betsy Wiser, a 75-year-old State College native, is a frequent member of the Water Walking classes and has found great benefit. “This class has helped me physically,” she said. “It really helps me keep my stamina up.”
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Hamlen likes to focus on fun while teaching the class. “The class isn’t all about work,” she said, “I encourage these ladies to do their best with each movement.” These women are able to work with the water to get stronger, move easier and to do things that are more difficult on land that feel wonderful in the water.
Not only does this class offer physical benefits, it also has a large social component. “The friendships are one of the biggest parts of this class,” Hamlen said. “These women have formed a social group that makes the class a really comfortable environment.”
The usual class size is 10 or more and caps out at 16. The ages of participants range from 50 to 90 years. The class runs five days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m. and Tuesday, Thursday at 8 a.m. in the spa pool. Hamlen teaches the class on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Hamlen has taught classes in both in the regular and the spa pools and has found the warm pool to have different benefits. “The warmth helps to relax the muscles and with joint issues,” she said. According to Hamlen, a lot of members have found relief from this class, saying they find it easier to move out of the water, and that they feel stronger and more able.
“People come back for years,” Hamlen said. “They like the class as well as the social, physical, mental and emotional benefits it provides.”