Lynn Sefton Ferguson became interested in aerobics in 1979. Soon convinced that aerobics were very beneficial to a person’s health, both physically and mentally, she became an aerobics instructor.
That was 20 years ago, and she is still going strong. Her energy, vitality and youthful appearance speak well for her chosen profession.
She was introduced to aerobics through a friend whose sister was into aerobics in Oklahoma, where it was comparatively new. Her friend wanted her sister to come here for a clinic, but at least 20 people had to sign up to do this.
“So she went around to all her friends and said, ‘Pay $25, so we can get my sister here to teach us aerobics,’” Ferguson said.
“Her sister came out and every year after that, she would come and teach us a new routine. I was really just doing it for my personal use.
“Some friends of mine knew I was working out and was certified, and said ‘Let’s start a class,” she said.
“So I started in the St. Elmo Elementary School cafeteria. We pushed some tables away and started working out. Then we moved to the civic center in Brownstown, the old grade school. We worked out there until it was hit by a tornado and torn down,” Ferguson said.
“Then, there we were, all these people wanting to work out and there was no place to have it. So we started searching in Vandalia for a bigger place to have it, but there was no place big enough. The Moose Lodge let us use their facility,” she said.
But there they had to move the tables and chairs every time, and sometimes there was a conflict in schedules and they couldn’t have the class.
“We did that for a while and then they started the Family YMCA in Vandalia,” she said.
“I had just been to a new clinic in Indiana, and I went to the director of the Y and said, ‘I’ve been trained to teach a kids’ aerobics class.’ He said, ‘I’ve got a problem, I just advertised that we have an adult aerobics class and I don’t have an instructor. So, think about working for us.’”
She went home, figured up her expenses, and, “It came out per hour about what they were going to pay me, so I said, yes, it would be a whole lot easier than working for everybody else and not having the expenses to pay.
“So that’s how I started working for the Y. I started working there in 1984 and been there ever since,” she said.
“We try to keep it interesting, and we change with the times. We do water aerobics in the summer in the Vandalia Pool,” she said. “You don’t have to know how to swim.
We stay in the shallow end, unless you really want to get out in the deeper, where it is harder to work out, and we have a lifeguard on duty,” Ferguson said.
“The (park district) has been gracious to let us use their facilities. They close from 5 to 6 every evening, and they let us use it while they are closed,” she said.
The Benefits of Aerobics
“Aerobics make your heart stronger,” Ferguson said. “It is a muscle, like your thighs and biceps.
“There was a man at one of the first clinics I went to, Dr. Cooper, who wrote one of the first books on aerobics. He told how his heart was getting stronger, and how you can pump more blood with one beat of your heart than someone who doesn’t work out. It might take them two or three heart beats to get the same amount of blood to their heart as the one beat does of a person who works out,” she said.
“You also have more stamina. It makes your blood pump faster when you are working out,” she said.
“Also,” she said, “if you have blockage starting to form, it will make a little vein around the blockage, to make other avenues for blood to flow, around the blockage.
“It just makes you feel better, makes your heart stronger,” Ferguson said, adding that the exercise is also good for battling depression, it gives you more energy and it provides good social interaction.
She is teaching six classes a week now.
She teaches at the Y on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also teaches classes in the Liberty Christian Church gym.
“My oldest student is 89,” she said. “She said she just needed a kick-starter, something to get her going after a long winter.”
Some children come with their mothers and work out for a little while.
Ferguson is a firm believer in the Y and its principles.
“The Y has strong family principles, and they do not turn anybody away…if you lose your job or just don’t make enough money to pay. They have a scholarship program that I’ve seen in use.
“More people could use the facilities if it was on a ground level, where they could just walk in, and with wheelchair and handicapped accessibility,” she said.
Plans are being made for a new Y facility., which she hopes will come to pass while she is still can use it. Anyone in any walk of life would find the Y beneficial, she said, and “there is a very good sports program for the youth,” she said.