Delray Beach: Wet & Wonderful

10457057659?profile=RESIZE_710xSharon Goldstein, 89, on the pool steps at Berkshire by the Sea in Delray Beach. Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Almost-90 fitness fan makes big splash with her seaside water aerobics classes

By Mary Thurwachter

Sharon Goldstein’s students wear caps with substantial visors and dark sunglasses to partake in her morning water aerobics sessions at Berkshire by the Sea. After all, the sun can be brutal as it rises over the Atlantic.
Goldstein’s class isn’t brutal, but it’s no walk in the park either.
“It’s a place to get some healthy exercise,” the soon-to-be nonagenarian says. (She’ll turn 90 in September.) “I work them very hard. It is work, but something you get used to.”
The classes are free and offered Monday through Friday from mid-March to the end of April, when Goldstein lives at her Delray Beach timeshare.
Her students are “quite a bionic group,” she says. “I have so many people in the pool with me that have had hip replacements, knee replacements and shoulder replacements. It’s been great for them because most doctors, after they’ve had that kind of surgery, will recommend exercise after they’ve gone to rehab. They tell them to get to a pool and walk. I expand on that theme.”
The water workouts have helped Goldstein stay fit. “I don’t have any bionic parts,” she laughs.
Her daughter Jane Kapusta says: “Mom has always been into exercise and eating healthy. She is not an extremist. Desserts are usually included after dinner.”

10457061680?profile=RESIZE_710xPeople in the seasonal classes are ’quite a bionic group,’ Goldstein says, with various joint replacements. She took up water aerobics at age 75 after injuring her foot while playing tennis.

Commanding attention
Sometimes, the morning workouts become a little too social.
“At the beginning of each class, I announce that the only voice I want to hear is mine, otherwise I kind of lose control when everybody starts talking,” Goldstein says.
The suntanned fitness guru has been coming to the Berkshire, a 51-unit timeshare resort on North Ocean Boulevard in Delray Beach, for more than 40 years, but didn’t start teaching water aerobics there until 15 years ago.
The mother of five from Milwaukee took up tennis when she was 40, loved it and excelled at it until a foot injury sidelined her at age 75. That’s when she took the plunge into water aerobics.
“It was such a wonderful outlet because when I couldn’t play tennis anymore, I thought, oh, what am I going to do?” she says. “My life is at an end. But then one of my dear friends said ‘you would really enjoy water aerobics. Try it.’ I did — and I got hooked.”
The following winter, when she arrived at the Berkshire, she marched down to the pool first thing in the morning and began to do water exercises. Another woman asked to join her and, before long, a class was born.
“We put up notices right in front of the elevator that there was a water aerobics class from 9 to 10 every day Monday through Friday, and no charge. Come and exercise and get some healthy workouts,” Goldstein recalls. “That’s kind of how it evolved.”
Music was part of the program from the start but as time went on, she got help with that.
“One of the guys comes with his iPad or pod and plays music,” she says. “I’m so not tech; all I know is he has this small thing, and he connects it to that, and it makes wonderful music.”
Most any kind of music will do, she says: “Disco, songs from musicals, all kinds of stuff just as long as it has a decent beat.”
She learned many of the exercises during classes she takes four days a week back in Wisconsin, although she does improvise. Exercise balls and pool noodles used in her classes are provided by the resort, for which she is most grateful. Early on, she bought those items herself.
She’s also grateful for “Sergio and Heron,” two resort employees who faithfully clean the pool before each class. “The pool sparkles every morning,” Goldstein says.

10457062486?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Berkshire provides pool noodles and someone else brings a music player to spice up the class.

Positive feedback
Reviews of her work can be collected by talking to the folks around the pool or in the hot tub where arthritic exercisers go to unwind after the vigorous sessions conclude.
“I’ve been with her since the first year,” says 79-year-old Bonnie Arnold from Prince Edward Island province in Canada. “I have a lot of arthritis. It has certainly helped me.”
When the group gets chatty, Goldstein “gets us to settle down. We laugh and carry on. We have a good time. The feeling is just wonderful.”
Another student is Goldstein’s daughter from Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Kapusta says her mom is “not a drill sergeant, but wants everyone to get a great hour of water aerobic exercise, but at each person’s physical ability and to stay focused during class.”
Kapusta, 62, has a bad back and goes at her own pace but says she still gets a great workout.
One of Goldstein’s students discovered she and Goldstein were neighbors back in Milwaukee.
“We both live on Lake Michigan about two blocks apart,” says Mary Dengel, 83. While most in the class stay at the Berkshire, Dengel has an apartment at the East Wind Beach Club co-op next door. “We’ve become very good friends,” says Dengel, who like Goldstein is a widow.
Goldstein’s husband, Bob, died a year and a half ago at 92 from complications of COVID-19. He had been an enthusiastic participant in his wife’s aqua exercise classes.
“Sharon’s just amazing how she does these water aerobics,” Dengel says. “We do a lot of stretching and we jog in place and get our heart going.”
Certain weeks have bigger groups, Goldstein says. “We have the turnover people that are only here for a week or two or three, and then I get a new group. But most of them are repeaters.
“My biggest thrill is when they come back and say ‘oh, I continued this when I went home.’ That’s always a good feeling for me.” 

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