Imagine teaching three water-aerobics classes a week, participating in line dancing classes, and helping care for a toddler. Sound like a full plate? Now imagine doing it all at age 84. This is precisely what Lakewood senior Florence Rotondo does every week. And you thought your schedule was full!
The 16 month old is Florence’s fifth great-grandchild, whom she loves dearly. And while her line dancing skills are second to none, her real claim to fame comes with her position as a Waterworks instructor at the Central YWCA.
The majority of Florence’s students are half her age — a statistic they say doesn’t matter when she’s pushing them to work hard in class. Longtime student Carol Lyons describes Florence as an upbeat and fun instructor who regales her students with amusing personal anecdotes. “Her stories always keep us going,” says Carol. “She is a real motivator.”
Florence was among the pioneers of the aquatic exercise movement in the Dallas area. While participating in a Jazzercise class at the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center in 1979, she learned of a new water aerobics class that was forming. She signed up and fell in love with this form of exercise, eventually taking over as instructor for the course.
“Before I took the class at Lake Highlands North, I had no idea of the power of this wet stuff,” says Florence. “Water exercise provides unbelievable therapeutic benefits for your whole body, both inside and out. There’s no stress or strain on your joints, and the continual resistance of the water gives you a free massage!”
Florence has been a Lakewood resident for 50 years. Before retiring, she spent 25 years as a church librarian and 13 years as the director of the Northridge Presbyterian Church Preschool. She currently teaches the “Waterworks Deep and Shallow” class on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Central YWCA on Ross, where she has taught for 10 years. John Eoff, programs director at the Central YWCA, says he is impressed by Florence’s level of personal commitment to aquatic exercise.
“Being a newly founded YWCA program not yet fully recognized,” says John, “Florence personally raised funds for the equipment so desperately needed at the time.” In addition to this class, Florence volunteers her time teaching a class of seniors at Vickery Towers. It is easy to see why so many people describe Florence as a role model.
For more information about the “Waterworks Deep and Shallow” class, contact the Central YWCA at 214-826-9922.