Water aerobics can be beneficial for seniors and adults at any age who are looking for a low-impact but vigorous sport to keep fit, relieve joint injury, pain or osteoporosis.
It’s been almost two years since aquafit lessons were held at the Terrace & District Aquatic Centre after it closed for renovations. Since the pool reopened four months ago, swimming lessons for kids and adult open lane times have resumed, but aquafit classes are still missing from the roster.
“It’s just rather discriminatory because every other population segment is represented in Terrace except seniors,” a local senior says. The resident requested to remain anonymous because of privacy concerns.
“There isn’t a lot to do in the winter and there are a lot of people that think it’s just a joke that they haven’t been able to find anyone.”
Before the pool closed, around 15-20 people would go to the aquafit classes offered for either one hour in the mornings or in the evenings, with around 10 classes per week.
Speaking to its benefits, Randall Cote, 53, is a regular swimmer and visits the pool twice a day to exercise and meditate. He says swimming helped him get back to leading an active lifestyle after he suffered a brain injury in 2009. He says swimming can be beneficial to everyone’s exercise routine, but especially for seniors who have mobility issues.
“A lot of these people are living a lifestyle that doesn’t require them to do any physical activity whatsoever. Aquafit classes are good for people like that,” he says.
“It just makes me feel good, and that is the bottom line. It’s for my mental well-being, my spirital well-being and my physical well-being.”
Concerned with the lack of classes, the resident says she spoke with the city’s leisure services department about the reason behind the delay.
“None of the lifeguards, who are paid $25 an hour, want to do it,” she says.
All lifeguards must have a Water Safety Instructor certificate to teach lessons, but none of the city’s current 17 lifeguards are trained to teach aquafit specifically.
Aquafit is a fitness instructor course and does require certification, though it isn’t required by the city or the employee’s union collective agreement. If the city’s pool staff don’t want to take the training to teach aquafit, they don’t have to.
“They’re hiring these lifeguards, and they’re allowed to say they don’t want to do it because it’s not in their job description,” she says. “Aquasize went on for years and years, and they never had a problem of finding instructors before.”
Any changes to the city’s lifeguard job description would have to go through the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2012 first, which can take up to two weeks after submission.
“I’m gobsmacked. Seniors have paid the longest and highest taxes in Terrace, and they’re being denied the right, if they can’t swim, to go and utilize the pool.”
The city’s spokesperson says managing and starting all of the pool’s existing programs after a major renovation takes some time to build capacity and train the newer lifeguards. Five out of the 17 lifeguards currently teach youth swim lessons, and the city hopes there will be more instructors available as they aim to hire eight more lifeguards.
“The City of Terrace is aware of the need for aquafit classes and we have been working on that very diligently, but there is a lack of instructors in the community,” says Karisa Petho, city officer of communications and business development. “We’re holding the training here in Terrace to ensure that there are instructors and we can get this up and running as soon as possible.”
On March 8, the city announced it will be hosting aquafit instructor training classes with the Canadian Aquafitness Leaders Alliance Inc. at the aquatic centre. Registration is open for anyone, not just city employees.
Future availability of classes is still to be determined.
Aquafit instructor classes will be held from April 4-8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Early bird prices are at $250 for residents and $350 for non-residents, with deadline for in-person registration set for April 1.