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W.E.T. class offers exercise, fun

It seems like a simple premise: Let’s Get W.E.T.

But in this case, the W.E.T. stands for Water Exercise Together, and that’s what participants do in classes offered through Oak Valley Hospital District’s Family Support Network. Classes are hosted every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the indoor heated swimming pool at the Best Western Rama Inn on East F Street in Oakdale, the first class of the day from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and the second class running from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Instructor Cheryl Bridges has been with the program from the beginning and is a physical and occupational therapy aide. The class is open to adults of all ages and abilities and Bridges said the water exercise class offers a safe, ideal environment to help attendees improve their physical condition.

“We have participants from Escalon, Waterford, Oakdale, Knight Ferry, Modesto,” Bridges said of drawing from throughout the region.

She said the class has always been hosted at the indoor pool of the Best Western Rama Inn.

“They have been very nice, they have let us stay here a long time,” Bridges said of Best Western, noting that the class started there in 2003.

Family Support Network, which runs the class, is supported by Oak Valley Hospital District. Cost to participate is $40 for 12 sessions. Each class session lasts for an hour and participants can choose to attend one, two or all three days of the week, whatever fits best into their schedule.

“Some people come on the recommendation of doctors, some come post-therapy, others through the Family Support Network and some come because of word of mouth,” Bridges explained. “Some come two times a week, some come three times.”

Class is designed for adults, ages 18 and over, and can be beneficial for a number of health issues, from arthritis to helping recover from knee or hip surgery, to being a good form of exercise for pregnant women.

“Anybody that can get in and out of the pool independently can come,” Bridges said.

Formerly with Oak Valley Hospital District, Bridges and a co-worker at the hospital had the idea for the class over 10 years ago and were able to bring it to fruition. She likes to work with 10 to 15 people maximum in the pool and said all classes are well attended. Those that are interested in learning more can try one class for free, to see if it is something that might work for them.

Modesto resident Mary Jane Henderson joined the group with her husband, when a doctor recommended it for him to deal with back problems. She said it helped both of them and though her husband passed away in 2012, she has continued to attend and benefit from the sessions.

“It keeps me moving and mobile, it helps my back and overall it’s a healthy thing to do,” she said, noting that she attends all three days. “I enjoy it and it’s a great group of people.”

Henderson’s sister, Georgia Molino, also attends but had to wait a while to get in because the class was so full.

“I had to wait a year,” she said.

Now, Molino has been attending regularly for several years and she said the class helped immensely when she had to have knee replacement surgery.

“They said six weeks rehab minimum,” she explained of having the surgery at 78-years-old. “In five weeks, I was driving, swimming…I’m 81 now and a lot of my recuperation was because I’ve been coming to these classes.”

Another success story can be found in Sue Field of Oakdale.

“Two years ago I came in on a walker, I had back problems, I had back surgery,” Field said. “Cheryl has worked miracles … I walk in myself now.”

Bridges is certified in CPR and water safety and said she enjoys working with the classes each week. There is a mix of men and women, though most that attend the class are women. Bridges demonstrates each exercise for the class, sometimes getting in the water to do the routines as well, other times instructing from the deck of the pool.

And though none of the participants was complaining about being put through the paces, Bridges said it does provide quite a workout.

“They’re ready to get away from me after an hour,” she said, smiling.

The Best Western Rama Inn is at 1405 W. F St., Oakdale, and more information about the Let’s Get W.E.T. class is available by calling Family Support Network at 209-847-5121, ext. 10.