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Try your first Friendswood Adult Fitness Class free

Date: May 9, 2016

The City of Friendswood Parks and Recreation Department is looking for both new students and new instructors for their adult fitness classes.

“Many people don’t realize that the City provides Zumba, weight training, Yoga, and other classes multiple times each week,” said City Recreation Manager Heather Whitty. “We would offer a greater variety if we had additional instructors,” she added. Pilates is just one of the adult classes she is hoping to offer.

While the classes are meant to strengthen the body, some current students said it has an additional social benefit. “We have a small group of about 20 ladies that meet all the time outside of Zumba and we’ve just become really good friends. That was just a side benefit of going to the Zumba class,” Deborah Wood said. She has been in the City classes for almost two years.

“The first day I walked in, I was nervous,” Wood said. “I just went ahead and did the class. Afterwards they said, ‘Oh, you should come to our breakfast on Tuesday.’ So I went home and told my husband about it and he said, ‘You should go…that’s how you are going to get to know people.’”

Zumba, Yoga and walking in the park are Wood’s three favorite ways to exercise. “I’m over 60 and I think I feel better now than I did when I was in my thirties and forties because I’m doing something. I’m not sitting at home and I’m making my body move. It’s also the friendship of all of the people I’ve met,” said Wood.

An injury 20 years ago prompted Cheri Moran to check out yoga. She liked it so much she became a certified instructor. “Everybody can do Yoga. I really work to teach a class that everybody can do and I will modify if there’s somebody in the class that is having difficulty, or for some reason you have a knee or a hip (injury), we modify so you can be in the pose, too,” Moran said. “I can think of several people who started just one day a week. Now they take all four classes that the City offers and they are trying all sorts of adventurous things, not only on the (Yoga) mat, but in their life in general. You see a real confidence in how they hold themselves,” she said.

While the majority of the students in the City Adult Fitness Classes are women, there is a growing acceptance of the benefits of Yoga among men. “It is really good for men, especially men who like to work out, or men who play sports, because a flexible muscle does not tear as easily and injuries are greatly reduced. That’s why you are seeing the NFL and Major League Baseball and basketball, and golfers, all incorporate Yoga into their training regimen. It’s just that important,” Moran reports.

Adult classes are offered during the week, at different times, various places and with a variety of instructors.  The first class is free, then for 16 classes, Friendswood residents pay $80, non-residents pay $100. Residents age 60 and older pay $60 and non-resident seniors pay $80. Whitty said, “In some cases, the personal value from taking the class is greater than the cost.”

“I’ve seen ladies who were overweight, take off a lot of weight,” said Zumba instructor Sandy Vlasek. “I’ve seen people with zero self-esteem be transformed. To feel important is huge.”

Who knew exercise could be fun? Beverly Hale found the answer. “A couple of years ago I missed working out, but I hate going to a gym. Approaching 60, I thought I needed to get into an exercise routine. (The City) had the special, ‘try all of the classes for free,’ so I did the Zumba first, then the Yoga, then the weight training. It is almost three years ago and I haven’t stopped because I enjoy the small classes and the instructors, and somebody telling me what to do. It’s fun,” said Hale.

Moran thinks the classes have one of the elements that exemplify the “Friend” in “Friendswood.” “We have a huge community. It’s very supportive. It’s wonderful. Everybody knows everybody else, and if you don’t know them when you first come into the class, you will shortly. They are so supportive of each other. It’s nice to know that if we don’t see you for a couple of days, somebody is wondering, ‘Are you OK? How are you doing?’”

Many Zumba instructors, Vlasek said, get to know their students physical capabilities and socially. “The ladies that I have met in class are great people. They come in all shapes and sizes and different economic backgrounds.” She encourages everyone to give the adult fitness classes a try. “Bring tennis shoes, a smile, a friend and some water. We’ll do the rest.”