Seniors gather daily in the pool at the Roxborough YMCA, 7201 Ridge Ave., for exercise and conversation. They range in age from almost 70 to nearly 93.

by Barbara Holman Lynn

On Ash Wednesday, March 6, a little bit of Mardi Gras came to Philadelphia! There we were, catching authentic New Orleans beads in the Roxborough “Y” pool. I flew back home to Philadelphia on Fat Tuesday after celebrating an “early” 70th birthday year (born in 1949) with friends and family in the Crescent City.

I am a regular participant in morning water aerobics classes at the Y (9, 10 and 11 a.m.) now that I have retired. Seniors gather daily in the pool at the Roxborough YMCA, 7201 Ridge Ave., for exercise and conversation. We range in age from almost 70 to nearly 93. (See accompanying photo.) I can be legitimately called “kid” by some of the men.

In August 2005, I moved to Philadelphia. I believe I am the only Hurricane Katrina evacuee who exercises at the Roxborough Y. My daughter and two young grandchildren accompanied me on a mandatory evacuation from Louisiana heading west. My son also drove from his home in New Orleans to Houston, but he left some time later and encountered really heavy traffic on the escape route. I found employment in Philadelphia through a friend of a friend.

Soon afterwards, I joined the Roxborough Y because of their water aerobics program. I had thoroughly enjoyed water aerobics in an outdoor pool near New Orleans; we exercised after work from 6 to 7 p.m. for years. I still see those friends from time to time at my daughter’s house. Exercising together builds lasting friendships. There is plenty of time to socialize before and after a water aerobics class. I also used my Y membership to swim at the New Orleans Y while visiting my grandchildren. The facility has a beautiful indoor pool constructed after Hurricane Katrina. It is less than a mile from my son’s home.

Please join us at the pool. Some of us have walkers and enter the water by ladder. Others transfer from a wheelchair to a pool lift to enter the water. Some of us drive; some are driven by retired “children”; some of us are transported by a paratransit bus. On Friday we’ll be celebrating with New Orleans “throws” from St. Patrick’s Day parades — silk green carnations, plastic shamrocks, and green beads. Believe it or not, the floats traveling down the Irish Channel on the streets of New Orleans near the Mississippi River actually throw some ingredients for an “Irish stew.” Try catching potatoes, onions, carrots and the coveted head of cabbage. Back in the day, I marched in those parades.

Our motto as seniors is to keep moving in the water. We may not be able to keep up with the 25 to 30-year-old instructors, but we stretch achy limbs and lift our legs in ways we could not hope to replicate on land. Some classes sing out to the exercise music from the 1950s and 1960s and reminisce about the times when we knew all the words to dance tunes. Our hip and knee replacement recoveries are accelerated. Our blood pressure is no longer elevated. Our cholesterol numbers improve. After class, we remain in the pool to share funny jokes along with memories of family and friends no longer with us. Those who are widowed and divorced come to water aerobics at the Y rather than spend a day alone at home. We are happier and healthier as a result.

For more information, call 215-482-3900.