People of Preston Aqua Fit Ladies

People of Preston is a campaign created to share the stories behind the faces that have shaped Western Kentucky University’s Raymond B. Preston Health and Activities Center over the years. The regular patrons and students are who make up the face of our facility. This campaign allows for our program to build trust and relationships with already loyal members to hopefully connect personally with even more of our Bowling Green community.

People of Preston: The Aqua Fit Ladies

The Preston Center to most is a place of leisure. It is the go to spot to get a break from a hectic day during lunch. It is an open basketball court to put the trash talk to the test. It is the starting point to so many exercise plans. It is a fitness center. It is a place of development.

For others the smell of chlorine, the warmth of the natatorium’s pool deck and the thought of that first cringing step in the water is what comes to mind when they think of the Preston Center.

The Preston Center is more than a gym to me because…

AquaFit is a form of water aerobics that has been offered at the Preston Center for 25 years. Throughout that time, multiple teachers have taught the course but four participants have remained loyal amidst the ebb and flow of instructors. Elizabeth “Liz” Woosley, Linda Spinney, Barbara Beck and Kathryn “Kitty” Hall have been coming to the same group fitness class since as late as 1994.

Linda Spinney said the Aqua Fit group has become so close that she has lunch with the instructor and knits regularly with Liz, another regular class participant.

Amy Wininger, 47, the current instructor for the class, also has a connection with not only the Preston Center but Western Kentucky University too.

Wininger was a graduate student at WKU in 1994 and an assistant for the Preston Center's dance studio when the department was looking for water aerobics instructors.

“I had no experience in the water, as far as I wasn’t a lifeguard, [but] I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll give it a try.’” Wininger said. “And so, I kind of learned on the job. I didn’t get a certification, but I ended up loving the people and loving the water.”

She explained because the exercises are in water they become concentric movements, allowing for more flexibility and more range of motion without getting sore.

“It’s kind of an oxymoron,” she said. “When you don’t do it, you get sore. When you don’t do it, you’re more likely to have those little muscle issues.”

Wininger has now taught for 25 years, through four pregnancies and in five different cities all over the United States.

Wininger said teaching water aerobics wasn’t something she sought. It was just a job she stumbled upon and found she really enjoyed. She said she hopes the class is advertised more so that others can enjoy the benefits of the water.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t even know that we have this class,” she said. “There’s definitely a need. In every city, there is a need for water movement.”

Wininger said teaching water aerobics has made moving and acclimating to new cities that much easier with all of the people she has met through the classes and through the Preston Center.

“I have a network of friends and support [here],” she said. “And I enjoy seeing people from different walks of life whether it’s a former student or a current class participant.”

Liz Woosley

Amy Wininger’s current group has been together for more than four years that they can now lead the class without any instructor at all. However, some participants have been coming for much longer.

Liz Woosley, 70, is the veteran of the Aqua Fit ladies. She started coming to the Preston Center when her husband got a job with the university. She learned of Aqua Fit when she became a member of the Preston Center and has been participating in the class since 1994.

Woosley said she always wanted to learn how to swim. She was middle aged when she finally accomplished her goal. Aqua Fit is what allows her to keep it up.

“We talk a lot,” Woosley said about the class. “We exercise. And we talk about a variety of things but mostly food, so we’re really hungry when we get home.”

She said her favorite memory to this day is her very first Aqua Fit class with the Preston Center years ago.

“The Preston Center is more than a gym to me because it feels like home.”

Linda Spinney

Part of Woosley's "home" is Linda Spinney, 65, a WKU retiree who started attending Aqua Fit classes in 2006. The class was a part of her membership and employee benefits. She has been coming ever since because of the bondage she has created with the other women in the class.

Spinney said the main motivation behind the water aerobics class is the accountability that comes from participating with a group.

“I’ve got a class with some other people, who if I’m not here, ‘Are you alright? Where were you?’” she said.

However, Spinney explained there is always a worry whether or not the class will be cut with such low numbers of participants from week to week. The class used to be offered three times a week for an hour. It is currently offered two times a week during the semester and once a week during the summer for 45 minutes.

She said they often have to ask if they have a new instructor.

“Because we go through instructors, sometimes a different one every year, sometimes every semester,” Spinney said. “We try to be here regularly and be loyal. And that’s a big part of it."

"Same group. Same group of women for a long time.”

Spinney said the Preston Center is more than a gym to her because of the friendships she has made.

Barbara Beck

Barbara Beck, 63, became a part of the Aqua Fit ladies in 1995 when she moved to Kentucky and found water aerobics. She was trailing her husband, who was an English teacher at WKU, and was happy to continue her exercise at the Preston Center.

“I was doing land aerobics before,” Beck said. “I had never experienced water aerobics so this was something new and I have been doing it steadily since the late 90s. I love it.”

Beck said she came to exercising late in life but it has become a large part of her daily routine. She likes that water aerobics is painless exercise.

"You don’t get hot and it’s just rewarding," Beck said.

She explained that the key to living a healthy lifestyle is just finding a routine and practicing regular exercise – regular Aqua Fit.

“It’s a lifesaver to me, it’s really a life saver. It’s such a stress reduction.”

Kathryn “Kitty” Hall

Kathryn “Kitty” Hall, 74, is the fourth Aqua Fit lady and the group-proclaimed comedian. Her daughter, Dawn Hall, currently teaches English at the university and was the one who pushed Hall into water aerobics four years ago.

When asked what a regular day of Aqua Fit was like, Hall joked, "awful. Just, they work you to death."

“She thought I needed to swim,” Hall said. “And I love it. I have met some wonderful friends and I have come ever since, every Monday and Wednesday.”

Aqua Fit generally practices similar movements you’d perform in the gym except it is underwater with equipment like pool noodles, pool dumbbells and floating devices.

Hall said water aerobics made performing certain movements like jogging possible for her. However, she admitted to still not knowing how to swim despite her love for the water.

“I guess under duress and if I was drowning I might do the side stroke,” Hall joked. “But in reality, because we’re in shallow water and we’ve got weights and noodles and things that help buoyancy you don’t need to swim, you just need to come and do your best.”

Hall said the best part about joining this class is the people around her from the lifeguards to the instructors and the people she has met through the experience.

“The Preston Center is more than a gym to me because of all of the friendships that I’ve made here and the good exercise I have got here.”

If you are interested in joining the Aqua Fit ladies, more information is to come on the Fall Group X schedule. Aqua Fit will meet in the Preston Center's Bill Powell Natatorium.

"You never catch a break,” Hall said. “You have to keep it up.”
Created By
Hayley Robb


Hayley Robb

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