A Westfield couple reaps benefits of a water-exercise program

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By Sophie Nulph

Westfield residents Judy and Dan Schwinghammer applaud the benefits of water excercise.

They have been members at PrimeLife, a nonprofit enrichment center in Carmel, for four years. They attend yoga classes, take advantage of the workout room and attend Ai Chi aquatic classes twice a week.

Ai Chi is a water exercise program that is a total-body strengthening and relaxation exercise. The exercise is performed in a salt-water pool with dim lighting and relaxing music and, according to its creators, promotes mental and physical health and improves balance, flexibility, well-being and relaxation.

“We are seeing such great benefits from it that we wanted to make others aware that this even exists.” Dan said.

Judy, who suffered from polio earlier in life, said the exercice helps her flexibility and and strengthens her leg that was impacted by the disease.

“Those benefits enhanced my spirit. It also created a real sense of relaxation,” Judy said.

Betsy Fowler, the instructor at PrimeLife, has taught Ai Chi for 10 years.

“It’s not something you just pop into here and there. It takes a while to learn (the moves),” Fowler said. “It takes some people a long time to slow down.”

The Schwinghammers said it has helped improve their flexibility, strength and confidence.

“I tried (Ai Chi) on land and thought there was no way,” Judy said. “And then I realized what I cannot perform on land I can perform in water.”

The creator of Ai Chi, Jun Konno, has worked to promote aquatics in Japan and around the world with the help of Ruth Sova. It is now the fastest-growing exercise program in the world.

Dan said he likes Ai Chi because of the stretching and flexibility benefits.

“You get in that water and it’s kind of like an escape for a little while,” he said.

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