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Sun, Sept. 19

Williams residents take to the pool for water aerobics classes at the Williams Aquatic Center

Gene Hill (second from left), Sherry Sleeper (far right) and two other water aerobicizers take a quick break during a morning deep water aerobics class at the Williams Aquatic Center. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Gene Hill (second from left), Sherry Sleeper (far right) and two other water aerobicizers take a quick break during a morning deep water aerobics class at the Williams Aquatic Center. Ryan Williams/WGCN

The gym isn't the only place Williams residents can go to get in shape. They can also hit the pool for a water aerobics class at the Williams Aquatic Center.

Water aerobics is easier on the body than exercising on land, said instructor Sherry Sleeper.

"What is unique about the pool is you've got the low impact. So if you've got knee problems and you want to run, go run over there," she said, pointing to the water.

Sleeper has been teaching water aerobics for about 12 years, and instructor Michelle Walker has been teaching for about seven years. The two took classes to become Water Safety Instructors.

People can choose between shallow and deep water aerobics. The classes are an hour long and start with a warm up for about 15 minutes. After that, the classes vary.

"I work on different muscles in the body," Walker said. "Sometimes legs sometimes arms, tummy."

Walker adds in some yoga poses to her classes and Sleeper incorporates kick-boxing elements.

"You can take anything and modify it to the water," Sleeper said.

Sleeper said beyond the exercise, water aerobics can help people, especially seniors, with tasks in their everyday lives, like zipping clothing.

"It's not necessarily a weight loss class, you can make it that way, but it's for flexibility, balance, overall health," Sleeper said.

Gene Hill has been doing water aerobics since he moved to Williams about four and a half years ago.

"I wanted my wife to do it, I thought she needed it, and I thought I would come along," Hill said. "I found out I think I got as much benefit as she did, maybe more."

The first year Hill did the class when the pool was open year-round, he lost two inches on his waist.

"I didn't lose much weight, but I just toned up my body," he said.

When Hill first started doing water aerobics, he did the shallow water class. Last year, he switched to deep water. Hill said the deep water aerobics class allows him to keep the weight off of his arthritic foot, since participants are always treading water.

"It is much harder, a much more strenuous workout, because in the deep water you're never stopped," Hill said. "You just can't stand there and catch your breath. You have to tread water and catch your breath."

Beth Michelson has been doing water aerobics for the past five summers, and said the activity benefits the cardiovascular system, joints and muscles.

"You feel so wonderful," she said. "As you age, your body has more aches and pains, and this just really helps to eliminate all that."

Michelson, who is the nurse at Camp Civitan and has a daughter with special needs, said the campers also benefit from exercising in the pool.

"I think the water is such an equalizer, no matter what shape your body is in," Michelson said.

For Walker, her students are the best part about teaching water aerobics.

"They make me smile whenever they come and I really just love them all," she said. "I like when I see improvement, like when they can do something they haven't been able to do for a long time, or when they're scared of the water and they come, or when they have a hard time walking on land but they come here and now they can walk on land a lot better. So it just makes me very happy to do that for them."

More information about the Williams Aquatic Center and water aerobics classes is available at (928) 635-3005.

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