, Derry, New Hampshire

April 25, 2013

Swimming class joins fitness with friendship

Aquatics fitness class offers more than exercise

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — They are friends in the water and out.

Participants in an aquatics fitness class at the Workout Club are touting the water’s soothing powers for body and soul.

The group regularly shares not only pool time, but often breakfast out after. Sometimes they wear special hats in honor of a holiday or occasion.

Last month, the crew met at Janie’s Uncommon Cafe and wore their Easter hats. Some members host parties for various occasions at their homes.

“We celebrate everything,” class instructor Millie Cartier said. “They often go to each homes to play games.”

Even out of the pool, she said, the friends keep tabs on each other to make sure everything is OK.

Cartier, an accomplished fitness trainer and safety instructor, is also trained in the martial arts. She has taught for more than 50 years.

The aquatics class started to help participants deal with arthritis and other physical limitations. Now,. it’s also a social club for fitness and friendship.

During one recent early-morning class, Cartier divided her time between the main fitness club pool and the therapy pool next door, where some of her class members decided to do their exercises. Cartier said it’s often much warmer in that pool.

To keep track of both groups, Cartier would call out to those in the therapy pool, then turn the corner to keep track of the others in the main pool.

“They are listening ... somewhat,” Cartier said. “But I know how to keep them quiet. When I bring in a new exercise, they get quiet and pay attention — for two seconds.”

Cartier moved into another exercise to get people’s arms moving. She called out for everyone to “swing the bat” and swing their arms.

That turned into a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” led by class member Ginny Murphy.

Murphy, some members claimed, always liked to get the class singing and laughing.

“And they’ve got their own words to some songs,” Cartier noted. “We’ll probably end up on the ‘Dr. Oz’ show.”

Cartier said she enjoys the social aspect of her class, one of her favorites to teach. There is no age limit for people who want to join the group, which usually includes 13 to 15 people.

“I’ll be 90 on April 29,” said Janet McCarthy, who was in the larger fitness club pool. “I’ve been swimming for a long time.”

McCarthy said the class is like an extended family. Her daughter, Roe, is also a member.

Faith Grant joined about five years ago and said the class helped her with knee pain.

“There is definitely a social, as well as physical, aspect,” Grant said.

Ed Kryger is the lone man in the group.

“I think pool therapy is a great thing,” he said.

After he suffered a stroke, Kryger and his wife Maureen signed up to swim. He didn’t hesitate to join Murphy for her next group song, “Bicycle Built for Two,” to go along with Cartier’s newest exercise.

“It’s the best time you will ever see in this class,” Murphy said. “We talk, it’s everything. It’s fabulous.”

Cartier said it’s not just getting into a pool three times a week to soothe some aches and pains. The water does so much more. Many of the members have stuck with Cartier through the years.

“I’ve had a following since my early years in Salem,” she said. “They just follow me. But I do enjoy this group.”