Batam’s fountain of youth

Monday, February 22, 2021

by Marcos Benjamin (text and pictures)


Batam’s swimming pool has a new use. Until today it was only used for the children’s swimming classes, but now the adults of the community are going to take profit of it too. There are forty people already enrolled and a waiting list of at least 20 waiting for a spot at the hydrogymnastics classes. The turn up was so unexpected that the commandant of Batam’s UPP, Captain Ribeiro, is already rethinking the times of the classes.

“We didn’t expect so many people at the beginning, but we are already figuring out a way to include everyone” the officer affirmed.

For now, those who managed to get a spot are divided into two groups, with classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Corporal Fratani and Soldier Negreiros take turns in instructing the residents. The first group has classes from 7am to 8am, while group two has classes in the afternoon, from 1pm to 2pm.

At ten past seven in morning, the sun is already burning at Realengo, the district where Rio’s top temperatures are commonly measured. While the students pass by the external douche before jumping into the water, the teacher of the day, soldier Negreiros, checks the temperature of the water.

“Let’s go guys!” the teacher called.

“Yes let’s start!” answered Mr. Martins da Silva, age 66, who is retired and has been living in the community since he was 10. He suffers from bursitis in his left shoulder and enrolled in the classes after a recommendation from his doctor.

“I’ve attended two classes and it was enough to feel an improvement on my shoulder. Today I can raise my arm with less difficulty than before,” he celebrates.

Already in the pool, the alert students watched every single move the teacher was making. He began with stretching, which is most important thing before beginning the exercises.

“Attention, everyone! The movements have to be well executed. Guys, the most important is to make sure that the water is leveled up with your shoulders, don’t forget!” the teacher asserted.

Teacher Negreiros has a variety of exercises. Besides stretching, he teaches exercises for the lower limbs, the upper limbs and the gluteus area; and to improve resistance and breathing. All with the same goal: a healthier lifestyle.

“Let’s go guys, do it faster” the teacher demanded.”It can’t be easy all the time! Knees up! Straighten your back!” he repeated.

Batam’s magical waters are already rejuvenating and improving the lives of the students. Born and raised and the community, Fernanda, age 31, believes the classes are fundamental. Suffering from a condition that leads to the loss of motor function on her lower limbs since she was 14, Fernanda’s life was made easier by the hydrogymnastics classes so close to home. With only two classes, she already feels the difference when moving around.

“Today was my second class and I can assure you, my balance is already much better,” she commented.

According to Regina, age 46, the classes are aimed to improve her resistance, especially after she suffered from tendinitis on her right knee. The disease the villain of her routine. She works standing up from 1pm to 8pm everyday on a fast-food restaurant. With the exercises, her physical condition has improved a lot and the pains of before don’t bother her anymore.

“I feel better in many different ways. My cardio is better and the pains on my knee are nearly all gone,” she tells us.

Some people take the classes just to stay healthy and, obviously, it is always better when it is for free. This is the case of Mrs. Neusa, age 61, who’s been living at Batam for 32 years.

“I was already doing hydrogymnastics, but it was at a proper gym and I had to take the bus. Now it’s free and I can walk here. It’s practically ‘round the corner of my house,” she explained.

At this time of the year, when even the residents of the highest and greenest areas of the city are complaining about the heat, the benefits of hydrogymnastics are quite obvious.

“There’s nothing better than exercising, keeping in shape and on top of it escaping Realengo’s dreadful heat,” concludes the teacher, soldier Negreiros.


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