Making a splash

You ever go to an aerobics class, and after you do a set or three of some exercise find yourself wanting to do a few more? Yeah, me neither. Until I went to a water aerobics class taught by Sheryl Boerger.

Since I started working to get off the couch and into an active lifestyle, I’ve had one main strategy, and that is to find those physical activities that are so much fun that the fact I’m getting exercise isn’t even on my mind.

Swimming has always been in that category for me, and even though I live in a very dry place I find a way to seek out water year-round. In summer, “go swimming” is at the top of every fun list, and it’s been that way for me my whole life.

Sheryl has been working for months trying to pull together a water aerobics Silver Sneakers class. When I heard last week that she was doing one at the pool in Estancia, I ditched my office for a few hours and made the trek for an afternoon workout. Maybe it’s because I left behind a pile of work in the middle of a Monday afternoon, but man that was fun!

I met Sheryl while competing in the Torrance County 50+ Games, a precursor to the state Senior Olympics held every summer. While that all sounds very proper and serious, the Torrance County part of it (I haven’t gone to the state games) was a barrel of laughs. I clicked with Sheryl over the archery competition last year, when she and I were the only two women (in any age group) who showed up to compete. We heckled each other and had so much fun, and that’s when I found out that she teaches Silver Sneakers fitness classes at Mags Indoor Shooting Range in Moriarty several days a week.

Sheryl’s a bit of a tomboy, even at age—well, she wouldn’t tell me how old she is. Let’s say she’s got a short crop of silver hair and a wrinkle or three that have settled into laugh lines on her face. She’s a powerhouse of fun energy who just makes you want to jump up and join in. Believe me when I tell you that is not my reaction to most exercise classes.

The water class Monday was almost like a comedy routine. That’s because Sheryl got out the door of her house with the wrong set of papers describing the Silver Sneakers water aerobics workout. Her solution was to go on memory, improvisation and suggestions from people in the class. “I don’t care if they’re laughing at me, as long as they’re laughing,” she told me afterward. I was laughing all right: Giddy to be outside in the sunshine, happy to be “playing hooky” from work, delirious to be splashing in water, and thrilled to be working out after far too many days and weeks have passed where my go-to excuse was that I was too busy.

Sheryl’s goal is to make her classes be part socializing, part entertainment, part exercising, and all about fun. Her classes are Silver Sneakers, which pays for them if it’s part of your insurance, but she welcomes people of all ages and abilities—and she teaches all together. “I want people all ages, young and old, women and men, to come,” she said. Something about that really appeals to me. I think we spend too much time wanting to hang out (or work out) with people who are at the same level as us. But nothing will motivate me more than seeing people who are 20 or 30 years older than I am, who are in great shape and loving moving their bodies around. That’s my goal state.

So I was in the water with about 20 other people, and Sheryl was on the side of the pool demonstrating the moves we were doing under water, a pretty silly sight in itself. In between, she cracked jokes like a stand-up comic, chasing after the little pieces of paper with the wrong exercises on them and improvising like mad. I was thinking, “This isn’t a very hard workout. It’s fun and all, but I don’t feel like I’m really exercising.” So when we finished with a set of some move or other, I kept on doing them.

It wasn’t until I got out of the pool that I felt it. Now it’s the next day, and I definitely feel yesterday’s workout, especially in my arms and shoulders.

Sheryl said she has always enjoyed being outdoors and being athletic. She loves sports, playing baseball, football, water and snow skiing, among others. In the 50+ Games, she took a stab at just about everything, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Still, she says, “I can motivate you. But only so much, then we have to build on it. It comes from you.” She stresses that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand in a healthy lifestyle.

Sheryl’s “land-based” class is held at Mags Indoor Shooting in Moriarty from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If you don’t have Silver Sneakers it’s $5 a class. The water aerobics class is Mondays at 3 p.m. at the Estancia pool, through the end of July. Entry to the pool is $3, then the class is $5 if you don’t have Silver Sneakers. To join her classes, contact Sheryl at 505-980-0602.

What physical activity makes you want to jump up and join in? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net. I’d love to hear about it.