Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feeling Fit And Feeling At Home In The Water

“When Paul Rhodes took his first dip in the therapy pool at Longmont United Hospital, he wore extra large swimming trunks. He now wears medium-sized trunks. Rhodes, 46, credits 2-hour water workouts thrice weekly for helping him go from weighing 225 pounds in August to 165 pounds now. His enviable progress surprised him more than anyone else. ‘Never, ever have I ever belonged to a health club. Me joining a health club? I used to think it was like putting a screen door on a submarine,’ he said. The fun factor of water workouts— in tandem with his improved fitness and sense of well-being — hooked him, he said. ‘I sort of accidentally got in shape. The more I went, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I went,’ he said. Rhodes said he now moves like a man relieved of carrying a heavy backpack. Shedding 60 pounds allows him to dress and undress and get in and out of bed and chairs more easily, he said. That freedom means a lot to a man already challenged by a physical disability. Rhodes was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that stiffens the muscles and joints, he said. His labored gait sometimes leads to falls, and he can’t use his curled arms much to catch himself. This winter, he wiped out on the LUH cafeteria floor and got a mild concussion. ‘The water gives you more of a security feeling of not falling. If you lose your balance, you’ll just float,” he said. “But the water won’t lie to you. It will let you know when you’re doing a great workout.’”

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