The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

January 13, 2014

Group workouts lead to long-term fitness

DANVILLE — Working out with a group keeps many long-time fitness buffs going past those first week or two of good-intentioned New Year’s resolutions.

Marty Walzer got Dr. Bill Gibson into swimming at the Danville Area Community Center and Gibson has started Walzer into lifting weights there.

“It’s ski season and as we get older we need to use our arms and legs more. They don’t do what they used to,” said Gibson, a retired doctor from Riverside.

“Swimming is really the best exercise I’ve ever done. It uses every muscle,” he said.

The center sees a jump in membership with people resolving to exercise more. Executive Director Jean Knouse estimates they will get 50 to 75 new members from January through early February. The center has 3,200 members.

While Gibson and Walzer usually swim a mile a day twice a week at the center, they often see Terry Gallagher, of Riverside, doing the backstroke. “To have a partner helps,” said Gallagher, who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. She gets in and out of the pool via a lift. Gallagher has been swimming at the center five days a week for 11 years.

A swimmer for 30-some years, Gallagher used to do water aerobics at the center. Of swimming, she said, “It makes me feel wonderful.”

“It obligates you a little bit more,” Walzer said of swimming with someone. He is the retired owner of The Pine Barn Inn.

A high school and collegiate swimmer, Walzer, of West Hemlock Township, played a lot of racquetball when the center initially opened.

“No matter what someone’s ability or interest is, there are very few things we don’t try to accommodate,” Knouse said.

“I have met more people here,” said Gibson of the center.

Before getting into swimming, he exercised with the Silver Sneakers program for some time.

“It’s a community center and not just for fitness and recreation,” Walzer said.

It was Walzer who suggested the center start a 100-mile swim club last year with 47 people swimming 8,400 miles. When they started the club, they guessed 10 people would reach the 100-mile goal.

He, Gibson and Gallagher are 100-milers who plan to finish 100 miles this year.

Walzer has charted a map showing how far the swimmers have gone. “We’re about as far as LA. I think we’ll come down the coast, go to the Panama Canal and come back up the Susquehanna,” he said. “We are following Lewis and Clark,” he said.

Allison Cotner, of Riverside, has been working out at the center more than four years. “My husband (Russ) grew up using the center,” she said.

She went to Zumba classes and when she was pregnant swam more. “I hadn’t done that since high school,” said Cotner, who is also a 100-mile club member. She tried CrossFit for the first time on Jan. 10.

A mother of two boys, 3 and 1, she has completed triathlons, including a longer one. She and her sister-in-law, Andrea Cotner, of Rush Township, who also has young children, trained for a triathlon last winter. They rode spin bikes, swam in the pool and pedaled bikes or took long runs outside the center, which provides babysitting.

“If I sign up for a race or the 100-mile club or CrossFit — the competition aspect motivates you if you join with a group,” Allison said.

“If people are part of a group, they are more likely to come back more often,” Knouse said.

She pointed out the center has a range of “tremendous fitness opportunities” for all ages, including kids shooting hoops, challenging programs such as CrossFit, TRX and boot camps, racquetball and Silver Sneakers for seniors.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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