Growing is Good for You
Growing up, many of us had a visual reminder of how much we’d changed over a year’s time. As the years go on, we start tracking our growth in different ways. Often writing down where we see ourselves in the future, or where we’d like to be down the road. But no matter how we grow — physically, mentally and emotionally — it’s nearly impossible to define growth because it’s so very different for everyone. What we have found — and what we hope you’ll find as you read these stories — are the common threads among all of us: Strength, determination, focus on health, friendships, community and a feeling of joy on the journey toward change and growth. These two stories illustrate how believing in yourself and taking steps toward something new can make a difference in how you feel every day. No matter your age, growing is good for you!
From Teacher to Student to Teacher Again
It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Laura Seagrave. She moved from the southside of Indianapolis to Westfield, bought a new house, got married, and started a new career: As an aqua fitness instructor at Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation. When she moved, Seagrave didn’t know anyone, but that was about to change.
An avid yoga enthusiast, Seagrave began investigating local yoga studios in search of a class to join. She quickly found that a much more affordable and all-encompassing option — a membership at the Monon Community Center — included not only yoga classes but hundreds of other classes. After becoming a member, Seagrave decided to take a yoga class called Stretch N’ Flex. It was taught by Jenny Owens-Cripe. Someone she now calls a friend and mentor who opened the door to the next phase of Seagrave’s health and wellness journey.
“Jenny was always so engaging and friendly and was a welcoming face for me in class,” says Seagrave. “She takes time to talk with others before and after class and is a huge support system of encouragement for everyone. I soon found myself engaged in those conversations, too, and learned that Jenny not only taught ‘on land’ yoga classes but she was an aqua fitness instructor as well.”
Upon Owens-Cripe’s recommendation, Seagrave found herself taking one of the aqua fitness classes as part of her fitness routine. “It was love at first splash,” laughs Seagrave. “I immediately felt a change in myself. I felt stronger, stood up straighter and felt more energized. There is such a camaraderie of the people in the class and in the water that just makes it such an enjoyable experience. It is more than just the physical improvement that I was seeing. I actually felt uplifted and better overall. I was hooked.”
At one of Owens-Cripe’s aqua classes, she announced an opening for an aqua fitness instructor and encouraged anyone interested to sign up for the certification. Seagrave knew this was a chance to expand her skillset and build on something new. Even though she was retired from teaching in the classroom — something she had done for over 10 years — Seagrave wanted to help someone reach their goals again.
“I gained so much confidence and strength in the water by trying something new and stepping out of my comfort zone that I thought if I can help people feel this same way — it was going to feel amazing,” shares Seagrave.
In summer 2019, Seagrave began teaching aqua fitness classes. She encourages anyone thinking about taking the next step to go for it. “Teaching has always been in my heart and I knew I missed it. This was the chance to showcase my leadership skills in a whole new way,” says Seagrave.
“Maybe I can pay it forward and inspire someone else to take a leap of faith for themselves and encourage them to go beyond what they may have thought was possible. Go ahead — dive in,” smiles Seagrave.
Translating Exercise to Every Day Life
Hank Levandowski has always been an active guy. In addition to a fast-paced career, he was an avid sailor and golfer. He and his wife followed family back to Indianapolis in recent years and were in search of a new exercise facility to call home. Once settled, they began noticing the beautiful park system around them which sparked a visit to the Monon Community Center (MCC). What they found was the perfect setting for staying healthy and on the move.
“I’ll admit, we were in an exercise rut. We would arrive at the MCC and she would head off to a group fitness class,” says Levandowski. “I would make my way to the Fitness Center to use the machines, free weights, ride the bike or hop on the elliptical. Then we would meet back up and head home.”
In 2018, a knee replacement led to the need for a new approach to staying strong and flexible. Levandowski says SilverSneakers® group fitness classes helped him approach fitness in a whole new way after his knee rehab was complete. He’s now a permanent fixture in SilverSneakers® classes and enjoys every minute of it.
“There is a SilverSneakers® class for everyone. I started in the Classic class right after rehab and it was the perfect starting point,” shares Levandowski. “I was ready to progress from there and I now attend a SilverSneakers® Boom class that has gotten me back to playing golf, hanging with my grandkids and just being able to do things around the house that I used to do.
The Boom class boosts overall fitness through muscle conditioning and activity-specific drills to improve strength and function skills. “I’ve found the exercises I’m doing in these classes allow me the flexibility and ability to move better, which translates to a lot of everyday tasks I needed to work on after the knee replacement.”
SilverSneakers® instructor Gretchen Lightfoot says the program is a lifeline for folks looking for an adaptable workout for both the mind and body. “As we age, it is important to practice the mind/ body crossover and by staying active on a regular basis, and working out with specific patterns, it helps to keep both healthy and engaged.”
Levandowski is quick to point out that it is more than the benefits of a health and fitness class that keep him coming back. “It isn’t just the physical part of the classes that I enjoy. It is the mental workout as you think about the coordination of mind and body that takes place during class. The added benefit of social interaction with other class members is a plus, too. It’s really a way to look at staying healthy from a ‘holistic’ viewpoint,” shares Levandowski.
Even in your 70s, he says you can learn something new and encourages everyone to put their fears aside. “Don’t miss an opportunity by not taking advantage of all the MCC has to offer. As your fitness level increases, you will find you are moving faster, stronger and have a better sense of balance every day,” shares Levandowski.
Levandowski encourages others to expand their horizons, to grow a little bit. “The benefits of staying active are pretty obvious, but the new friends and smiling faces you’ll meet while getting healthy are ‘silver’ icing on the cake.”