Not long after the Soboba Sports Complex swimming pool was reopened with extensive safety protocols in place, Daniel Mazza was tapped to teach water aerobics classes. He is a fitness specialist with Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. and has taught group exercise classes and served as a personal trainer at the Soboba Sports Complex. Mazza is also actively involved with RSBCIHI’s comprehensive Diabetes Program that offers case management, education classes, nutrition and fitness visits.
The water aerobics classes began Sept. 2 and will be held twice a week while the weather stays warm. A limit of 10 students has been set to adequately maintain social distancing. Participants have their temperatures taken upon arriving at the pool area and masks are required until they enter the water and must be replaced as soon as they leave the pool.
“This is a very basic class that anybody can do – it’s very low impact,” said Mazza, who recently taught healthy nutrition and exercise classes for Soboba Tribal TANF members. “When we offered these classes last fall, there was a huge interest. Our largest class had 19.”
Classes are scheduled in the morning with one of the lifeguards always on duty and limited to the shallow end of the Olympic-sized swimming pool. He said Soboba community members and patients from RSBCIHI are eligible to attend.
“We have some that want help with their mobility because they have arthritis while others are rehabilitating from an injury,” Mazza said. “This type of exercise most definitely provides multiple benefits because of the constant resistance with the water.”
During the one-hour class, participants were put through various timed drills that included walking across the pool, doing modified squats at poolside and working with two-pound weights covered in foam for stretching exercises to aid in upper body flexibility. Mazza said the series of timed movements provides a fluctuating heart rate which helps with cardio health.
Francie Diaz has been doing water aerobics for years at Powerhouse Gym in San Jacinto. After it was closed due to the pandemic, she continued to work out on her own.
“It’s harder to work out at home because you aren’t with your gym friends,” she said. “This class is great for my health – I try to stay as healthy as possible. It’s perfect for me because it’s not too hard on your body.”
Mazza added that having young children running around during his exercise sessions is also an unexpected complication of working out at home. He said whenever he does push-ups, his young son climbs onto his back for a “ride.” While the extra weight probably improves his workout goals, it definitely adds a new twist to his workout routines.
“A lot of the movements they do in the water can improve and help maintain balance, also,” he said. “Like Francie said, all of them are done at your own pace so if you want an extra workout, you can go fast while others can just cruise.”
Aurelia Mendoza said she joined the classes to exercise more and she liked the fact the class size was limited. Teakwitha Briones McKay was there to improve her knee that she said is “bone on bone.”
“I can do what I couldn’t do at home – these are exercises that don’t even feel like exercises,” Briones McKay said.
Mazza is working out the kinks to offer a virtual gentle yoga class, starting later this month. He said it will be a beginning level class that will emphasize proper breathing techniques.
“Like the water aerobics, the yoga classes will help those that are just trying to ease back into fitness after the shutdown that so many have experienced,” he said.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians