A well-kept secret: Judson community wellness program helps members stay fit

A swim class at Judson.

Here is a little-known fact: Judson Park, a residential retirement facility, offers a fitness program open to the public. 

Currently, 125 community members, ranging in age from 50 to over 80, participate during the week. Classes include water aerobics, power walking and arthritis exercise in the pool, strength training, pilates, yoga, and a balance clinic on land. No contract is required. There is an enrollment fee of $60, and members pay $55/month for unlimited access to classes, the pool and exercise room.

Testimonials from individuals who participate suggest that Judson Health and Wellness Program offers a veritable fountain of youth.

Take Annie Huff, an 81-year-old retired UPS worker and a member since 1996. A former swimmer and tennis player, she could no long participate in sports due to stiffness and knee problems. “Without Judson,” she said, “I don’t think I’d be walking.”

“Judson got me walking again,” claimed Jean Sacatash, 82, a retired special education teacher who recalls how attendants at Judson helped her get into the hot tub and start exercising again after back surgery.

85-year-old Louise Keating, a retired physician, began the wellness program after her second hip replacement. Advised to do water exercises, she added strength training to improve her stamina, balance, and ability to lift heavy objects. Keating credits improved muscle control and balance with preventing slips from turning into falls.

Blanche Valancy, 63, a retired pediatric social worker, has had spinal fusion and knee replacement surgeries.  In addition to the tremendous health benefits, Valancy enjoys hanging out in the hot tub after classes, and sharing stories with friends who show emotional resilience in the face of surgery, illness and loss.

Retired librarian Kay Coss has been a member for 10 years. “I’ve become stronger than I ever was before. I have defined muscles I can see for the first time in my life!”

65-year-old artist Amie Albeit likes the intimate setting and camaraderie. “Participants are smart, thoughtful, funny and welcoming.” Albeit needed aerobic exercise, but joint pain prevented her from doing land activity. Water aerobics works well for her. “Nothing hurts in the water,” she said.

Although decidedly a minority, men also participate. Barry Brown, 74, a retired businessman, has been a member for three years and finds it helps his back problems.

Most members have participated in other programs, but find Judson meets their needs. They talk about the stability (most people who join stay with the program), the professionalism of the staff, and the supportive friendships that develop.

“The instructors are brilliant, well trained and supportive,” said Valancy. “They keep it fresh and inspiring.”

A community wellness program that produces so many inspirational stories ought not to remain a secret.

Judson Health and Wellness Program is located on the 7th floor of Judson Park at 2181 Ambleside Dr.,  Cleveland. For information contact Tom Snyder at 216-791-2393 or tsnyder@judsonsmartliving.org.

Jessica Schreiber

Jessica Schreiber, a Cleveland Heights resident, has been a member of Judson Health & Wellness Program for five years.

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Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 9:33 AM, 09.23.2011