Susan Yates loves water aerobics, and before she came to live at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge in 2020, she was taking classes five or six days a week.
Of course, she and her husband Ron moved in during the period when the pool was closed for construction. Everyone was happy when it reopened, and none more than Susan. However, when water aerobics started back up, she had a problem. Initially, there were two classes a week – 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays – and she had a standing Tuesday-morning commitment that meant she would miss half the classes.
What happened next is a great example of how enterprising, active residents work with accommodating associates to create more opportunities to do the things they love to do.
After checking with the WCBR Fitness and Wellness Team to make sure it would be OK, Susan reached out to all her fellow residents. “I didn’t know anybody from anybody” at that point, she remembers, but “I sent out an email to Residents Connections, and said I was new to the community. I said I was not certified, but I could talk people through it.”
Susan knows how to conduct a session and call out the moves, and she got a good response. She committed to hold sessions on Monday mornings at 10:30 a.m. “That made me make sure I got to the pool.” Sometimes, there would be a session on Wednesday or Friday.
For lack of a lifeguard on Saturdays, the pool could not be opened. Brittany Wisinski, WCBR’s Fitness and Wellness Manager, posted diligently looking for a candidate that could meet the rigorous standards to work at WCBR as a lifeguard with only eight hours a weekend. Brittany lucked out when she found Jacob Moore, a political science major at UVA, who was willing and able to handle the weekend hours and some holiday hours for the residents. With the pool open on Saturdays, this gave Susan the opportunity to lead water aerobics, affectionately referred to as “play dates in the pool,” on Saturdays.
Susan still leads the Saturday sessions, although associates have taken over the weekday times for their classes. Brittany was concerned about “stealing Susan’s slots,” saying “This is something you started, we don’t want to take it away from you.”
Susan’s response was, “It’s not about me.” And she has only good things to say about working with Brittany; she sees them as a good team together. Besides, Susan recently had MOHS surgery and couldn’t get her face wet for a while. That caused her to send out another email in January saying, “I’m taking an early retirement for a while – sort of putting it on hold.” Susan is waiting for the spring activities to die down, weddings, reunions, and personal travel and will reengage with sessions, if there is interest in later in March, when the pool will be open on the weekends.
Simultaneously, Susan learned of an opportunity to join the Fitness Team, and take a Lifeguard Course offered by the local YMCA, through the Red Cross. Susan now is a Certified lifeguard for Shallow Water Lifeguarding (up to 5 ft) with CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and First Aid.
Susan grew up in Naples, Florida, and swimming is a big part of life for her. “I swim a lot. If I’m in the pool, I want to be able to do something.” And she finds water aerobics a great, healthy thing to do.
What is water aerobics? A little of everything, Susan says with some surprise at the question in her tone: “We do jumping jacks, cross-country skiing, marching, breast-stroke, stepping high – anything you can do on land.” One great thing, particularly for seniors, is that “If you fall, you’re going to fall in water, so the worst thing that’s going to happen is your hair gets wet.”
Susan’s going to keep at it, and help others to keep at it. “I’m 68, and I plan to be here another 30 years.”