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‘Welcome to the Jungle’

By Staff | Mar 20, 2013

Whether you wanted to learn to cook healthier or see what four ladies at or near the age of 80 could do in a swimming pool, there was plenty for people to do Tuesday at the sixth-annual Wellness Expo at Gulf Coast Village.

The event, which has gotten bigger every year, featured more than 20 vendors, 125 people, and a myriad of activities, as well as health screenings for the villagers, many of whom are retired.

The idea behind the two-hour event was to bring people together and talk about being well, said Melissa Wallace, wellness director at Gulf Coast.

“We have educational vendors and our home-health agency is here doing blood pressure,” Wallace said. “We are also doing balance assessments and fitness demonstrations.”

The theme was “Welcome to the Jungle,” and it had nothing to do with the Guns -n- Roses song. The volunteers wore pith helmets and among the goodies visitors had to snack on included Hippo Dip (hummus), Monkey Chutney (trail mix) and gorilla grub (mixed fruit).

The program offered a class in Tai-Chi, and the balance assessment was done with the use of a Wii video-game program.

“We wanted to invite people out so they can learn about safety, wellness and different opportunities available to them,” said Dani Johnson, marketing director. “Everything was complimentary. You don’t need full balance to participate in tai-chi, it will help you get there.”

The vendors focus was on senior health, wellness and safety

But the crown jewel of the expo was the synchronized swimming exhibition put on by Eldora Haines, Marie Day, Rosemary Karpinski and Marion Straussfogel.

The group, which has been together for about three years, admitted it was a little rusty, as it wasn’t able to practice as a result of the cold, rainy weather. Also, two of the members were sick and couldn’t participate.

But they still put on a show for dozens of expo visitors at the pool. To see them still on the go at this stage of their life was an inspiration to many.

To the ladies the pool is the most important part of their exercise regimen. It also sends a message that swimming and staying in shape can be fun and painless.

“We want to show people what we can do three times a week. We get together and it’s really nice,” Karpinski said. “I teach them yoga in the pool and we do cardio, strength and noodles and have a good time.”

The ladies performed four songs for the gathering before stepping away for the cooking demonstration.

All in all, the expo placed the facility front and center in regards to what it does for the community.

“We’re showing a lot of our staff what we can do here and what we can offer,” Wallace said.