Then: The Sanford Health Wellness Center’s aquatics program was chosen largely in recognition of the staff’s dedication. With 10 part-time instructors, the facility offered 60 aquatics classes and a variety of special events such as wine tastings and family dive-in parties. Many of the programming ideas were generated by staff, who also cooked up special promotions. New at that time was Bosom Buddies, a warm-water exercise program for breast cancer survivors.

Now: Programming is still Sanford aquatics facility’s strong suit, says Aquatics Supervisor Kathy Grady, who has been with the center since 1990. “Many of my 16 instructors have been here almost as long as I have. They love what they do. If someone has an idea for a new program, I can say, ‘Great, run with it,’ and I know they’ll totally take charge and organize it.”

For example, a staff member recently came up with a brand new program called Bridging the Gap, which works with people who have just had a hip or knee replacement and want to transition into mainstream water aerobics programs. The instructors and managers meet weekly to discuss programming, what they can do to keep members involved, and ways to attract new members. One new area of interest is in strength cross-training, to encourage members to move between water and dry activities. Grady also teaches a Masters Swim class. The Bosom Buddies program is still going strong, and other therapeutic classes have been developed, including Oh My Aching Back, Joints-n-Motion and Working Out for 2, designed for pregnant women. The Adaptive Aquatics program, started in 2008, has consistently grown to include over 75 students with various forms of developmental disabilities. The facility also hosts the Special Olympics Training Program that runs for eight weeks each year. A host of other programs from Aqua Zumba to Deep Water Cardio provides something for everyone. Currently the center has around 4,500 memberships, including families, with more than 10,000 individuals using the facility on a regular basis.