Exercising in the water is low-impact, easy on the joints, and is great for conditioning and cardiovascular health.
That’s why four Callaway residents drive 80 miles roundtrip to the YMCA at Gothenburg Health about three times a week just to reap the benefits of water exercise.
It may seem like a huge time commitment, but Callaway resident Kristen Berger said it’s worth it to her.
“Life is about choices,” Kristen said. “You can choose what the priority is.”
She works at First State Bank in Callaway and also raises cattle. She wakes up every morning to run at 4:30 a.m., and she makes time for swimming at the Gothenburg YMCA pool because of the health benefits it gives her, such as better flexibility.
“The natural stretching that you can do in the water … it’s such good physical therapy,” she said.
Mary Smith and Carol and Burt Willis are retired and they had been exercising along with Kristen at a hotel pool in Broken Bow and at the Callaway outdoor pool in the summers.
They had heard great reviews about the swimming pool at the YMCA in Gothenburg so they decided to try it out. They found it had many benefits including warm water, a larger area and a friendly YMCA staff to help them and greet them each day. The four of them joined the YMCA and started carpooling to the YMCA just for the pool exercise.
“It helped me so much because I have bad knees and arthritis,” Mary said. “The swimming was tremendously helpful.”
Mary said her goal when she is exercising in the water is to stay in motion for the entire hour workout to strengthen her legs and keep her mobility. She swims, walks in the water, stretches and does water aerobics.
The workouts so far have improved her arthritis symptoms and delayed a knee surgery.
Burt and Mary are retired teachers and coaches. Burt was a former high school and college athlete and has always been active. However, he has neuropathy in his legs and now water exercise is about the only kind of exercise he can do.
At the Gothenburg pool, Burt treads water and uses a noodle to float while he kicks his legs.
“You always feel better when you exercise, no matter what you do,” Burt said. “It’s about all I’ve got left. I can walk in the pool but not anywhere else.”
Carol said the water exercise has helped her lose weight and control her Type 2 diabetes as exercise is essential to regulating her blood sugar levels.
In addition to the physical health benefits, Carol said she enjoys the social aspect of being a YMCA member.
“Being retired, especially during Covid, you got displaced from being around people,” Carol said. “Once everything opened up again, and it felt safe, we have enjoyed going to the Y and making connections with others and making new acquaintances.”
All four Callaway residents said they have felt welcome at the Gothenburg YMCA from the minute they walk in the door to the minute they leave.
“We very much enjoy the people at the Y,” Carol said. “They are accommodating and friendly and know you by your name when you come in. That makes us want to come back. We have also enjoyed the people we have met who are also swimming like us.”
Mary encourages others will join her and her Callaway friends at the Gothenburg YMCA pool.
“People ask me about it all the time, and I always give it a glowing review,” she said. “The facilities are just wonderful. The water is wonderful. The staff is great to work with. We’ve just had a wonderful experience. People who aren’t taking advantage of it are crazy.”