The YMCA is bringing back its popular Warm Water Aqua Fit classes and Restorative Pool Time.

Tentatively beginning January 30, 2017, the program will run a 12-week session from Monday to Thursday at the Grace Hansen Therapeutic Pool on the third floor of the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre on Summer Street in Halifax. The warm water classes use full body exercises to promote muscle strength and endurance, as well as joint flexibility and overall balance, and will be followed by a 45-minute therapeutic pool session.

The program is offered through a partnership between the YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth and the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which provides the facilities.

“The class is intended for people who have arthritis or any kind of condition for which low or no-impact exercise would be beneficial,” says Cathy Beairsto, Coordinator, YMCA Healthy and Active Living. “Warm water exercise and restorative pool time is a big plus, because being cold is an enemy for anyone with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis arthritis, conditions that limit mobility, or a joint condition such as fibromyalgia, for example. Some people with these conditions have difficulty taking Aquafit classes in traditional pools because the water is too cold. This provides the additional benefit of warm water.

“The Restorative Pool Time, which will follow the classes, is intended for anyone who wishes to exercise on their own, who wants to spend additional time in the warm water, or who may benefit from additional exercise instruction or ideas from the instructor.”

The classes will be led by a qualified YMCA Aqua Fit instructor with a lifeguard on deck for the classes and the 45-minute restorative pool time after.

Cheri Gunn, Program Manager, Person Centered Ambulatory Care at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Center, said that therapeutic pools are often distinguished from community pools by their physical accessibility options and water temperatures ranging between 92- 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Water based exercise can benefit many individuals and is a vital therapeutic modality within our rehabilitation programs,” says Cheri. “In some cases, individuals are able to perform activities and exercises in the water that are too difficult to do on land because of pain and/or weakness and flexibility.  Moving and exercising in water can help individuals improve strength and flexibility, regain function, manage pain and improve their overall quality of life. Both past and present patients regularly tell us how being able to access the pool after their rehabilitation stay or after their therapy program finishes helps them continue to recover and be healthier.  Supporting people within our communities to be healthier now and into the future is a shared vision of both our organizations.”

Cheri says the Nova Scotia Health Authority is looking forward to growing its partnership with the YMCA, which also co-ordinate on the Abilities in Motion program for people with mobility issues at the physiotherapy gym at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre.

“The addition of community programming within the therapeutic pool is a natural fit,” she says. “We both share a keen interest in supporting our communities to have opportunities for affordable and fully accessible health and wellness programming. It is through the generosity and advocacy of our community that our pool was able to be renovated and we want those who can benefit from it long term to be able to use it.

Cathy echoed the sentiment that the partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement as it allows people who take part in the classes to take a leadership role in choosing exercise and therapy that offer concrete health benefits.

“It’s beneficial for people once they leave the rehabilitation centre to do programs that increase their independence and give them more control over their recovery process,” she says. “There is also a benefit from the social component of the program and I think that’s a valuable asset as well.”

The Aqua Fit program will be offered Monday-Thursday from 6 p.m.-6:45 p.m. and participants can choose how many classes to participate in each week:

  • One class costs $120 + HST
  • Two classes, $220 +HST
  • Three classes, $320 +HST
  • Four classes, $420 +HST

For more information, or to register, please call Cathy Beairsto at (902) 422-9622 (ext 225), or contact the Community Y Welcome Desk at (902) 422-9622 (ext 221).