In 2011, about a year after I moved to Estes Park, I underwent a complete knee replacement surgical procedure. It was my third knee surgery and second titanium knee; and although I thought of myself as a veteran of the knee-replacement rehab experience, this time I learned something new.
I was working under the general supervision of Annie Slack, whose Mountaintop Physical Therapy practice was located right next door to the Healing Waters Pool, and my therapist was the very capable Patrick Martchinck. Annie and Patrick put their heads together and suggested that I spend one of my therapy sessions each week using the Pool.
Within a couple of days I found myself in the warm water and on the treadmill, which Patrick initially set to a very slow speed. To my delight I discovered that my whale-like body only weighed a fraction in the Pool's four feet of water of what it did on dry land. Within minutes, Patrick had me walking sideways on the treadmill, taking long strides and exercising muscles I would not previously have dared to challenge. I even ended up walking backwards, of all things. Before I got out of the water, I also was able to do the same stretches and bends I was doing on my stairs at home, except this time in warm water and with almost no impact on my knee tendons and muscles. From my point of view, it was a lot of progress for the effort I expended.
In short order, I began to extend my half-hour of Pool therapy with Patrick into an extra half-hour of workout on my own after Patrick left for his next client. When I “graduated” from physical therapy, I stayed with the Pool as an exercise client, and for several years now I have used the pool for one hour a week, usually striding along to my customized music playlist of ragtime piano pieces, military marches, and accordion polkas (to each his own, I guess!). I have found that I can walk on the underwater treadmill at 3.3mph, while I’m most comfortable with something like 2.2mph on dry-land machines. Also, I learned right away that I could always get my Pool exercise done no matter how inclement the weather outside was.
Arguably one of the most important personal successes the Healing Waters Pool has contributed to came when I incorporated weekly use of the Pool into a general weight-loss program. Even though my Healing Waters exercise was at most one-sixth of my weekly physical activity regimen, I found that it was a welcome break in my exercise routine, that my Pool use being by appointment meant that I ALWAYS got it in, and that I tended not to overeat on days I used the Pool, simply because I was already invested in good diet behavior on those days. Eventually I lost 130 lbs on my eating program. More important, I have kept the weight off for more than two years. I am very grateful to have found such an unlikely health resource in a small town like Estes Park. P.M.
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