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Swimming Seniors: These Bulldogs still have some BITE in them

September 30, 2014
Adult Fitness Water Exercise participants stretch at the end of their 55-minute session.

Adult Fitness Water Exercise participants stretch at the end of their 55-minute session.

BRENNEN LEGE
Staff Reporter

At seven o’clock in the morning on a Monday, 94-year-old Sedonia Givens uses a walker to enter Louisiana Tech’s Adult Fitness Water Exercise class.

The class, designed for those ages 55 and above, has both senior kinesiology majors and senior Ruston citizens working together toward their fitness goals.
“At first I was afraid of the water but I went in anyway,” Sedonia Givens said. “After I was in there maybe a month or two, and I started sinking.”
Scared but not alone, Sedonia Givens called for her 72-year-old daughter Jon Jon Givens, a fellow participant, to help her out of the pool four years ago.
Although the first year was a challenge for Sedonia Givens, by not giving up on the class, she was able to see progress in the second year there.
“The second year I was there, I lost 10 pounds, then for a while I didn’t lose anything,” Sedonia Givens said. “I guess last year, it’s been about a year now, that the doctor took me off medication.”
As a diabetic, Sedonia Givens had been taking medication for decades. In 2014, she is proud to be medication-free and 20 pounds lighter thanks to the exercise course.
“If you do what they tell you to do, you can see the difference,” Jon Jon Givens said. “The body tightens, you start to build muscle instead of having all that fat, and that helps tremendously.”

 

 

Sedonia Givens, a 94-year-old participant, braces a wall as she exercises her legs underwater.

Sedonia Givens, a 94-year-old participant, braces a wall as she exercises her legs underwater.

Jon Jon Givens said she enjoyed seeing how her classmates have changed. She said their bodies have changed. They said they feel stronger and their outlooks are more positive.
“There’s nothing wrong with getting old,” Jon Jon Givens said. “There’s something wrong with not being able to use the body the way that you were accustomed to using it. You can’t do the same things you did in your 30s and 40s, but you can most assuredly transfer it so that you aren’t decrepit.”
As a person that always had some sort of exercise program going on throughout her life, Jon Jon Givens said now it is her mother who motivates her most to get to the Lambright every Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week.
The head instructor of the class, Smiley Reeves, said she enjoys the energy and optimism the mother-daughter duo brings to the class each week.
“There are many days where Jon Jon just wants to sleep in, but her mother just won’t allow that,” Reeves said.
“They bring so much fun to the class. Jon Jon has always been energetic and Ms. Sedonia is just such a joy in her hot pink cap.”
Reeves said even though consistent exercise has many different benefits, without a “fun factor,” the classes would fail.
“There’s science behind the exercises that we deliver, but we fill it with the fun factor,” Reeves said. “It has to be fun or we just won’t do it; that’s just human nature.”

 

 

Zack Shively, a senior kinesiology major, showing classmates dumbell movements.

Zack Shively, a senior kinesiology major, showing classmates dumbell movements.

Reeves said kinesiology majors benefit several ways in her exercise classes. She explained how it allows them an opportunity to be exercise leaders, learning skills for classroom management.
“They learn how to give direction to a different population other than their peers or student-athletes,” Reeves said.
“They learn a skill that is beneficial to them later in life after they graduate when they may be teaching or stepping in from a management position.”
Friday, Sedonia Givens will turn 95, and Reeves said she plans to surprise the birthday girl with balloons and cupcakes when she arrives to class that morning to celebrate.
Email comments to bsl008@latech.edu.

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