I found gold in my backyard

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2007

To the Editor:

Early settlers traveled far and wide in search of gold and wealth. As far as I know, Selma has no valuable precious metals, but it has a wealth beyond material value.

The slogan “Selma has it all” was just wishful thinking until I discovered a “goldmine” of health and wellness being in Selma. For the past six months, I passed the “mine cite” at least three times a week when I took my mom to the Dialysis Center. I noticed the striking edifice from a “distance,” but was not inspired to enter or examine its contents. My “overdrive” lifestyle blurred my priorities and vision in my “frantic” quest for truth and justice.

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In the process, I was challenged physically and spiritually because I was going too fast and searching too wide to recognize Selma’s treasures. Finally, I paused and stumbled when breast cancer besieged my body. I returned, however, to my overdrive lifestyle when the cancer was determined to be remission.

While in India a few weeks ago, I had the chance to exhale and slow down. When I returned to Selma, I committed to change my life style, but I needed help. I remembered the impressive structure within sight of the Dialysis Center. I decided to go inside. I was amazed.

Let me share my routine to demonstrate the awesome diversity of this goldmine. I usually arrive at the facility between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m.

My warm welcome at the front desk is followed by an anxious dash to the tread machine. I greet a neighbor who I didn’t know until I met him on the “machine next door” to the one I now claim as “mine.”

Other familiar and unfamiliar faces fill the spacious exercise room. A common sense of purpose blends with the rhythm of the machines as people gives assistance or just a smile of encouragement. After 30 minutes I move to the strength building equipment. In all of my travels, I had never seen such a diverse exercise system. I moved from one machine to another in childish anticipation.

After 20 minutes I walked towards the women’s locker room and eyed a magnificent gymnasium with multiple basketball goals. I quickly entered and grabbed the closet basketball. I felt like 16 again, playing ball for George Clem High School in Greeneville, Tenn. Basketball, not books or boys, was my love in high school, but after five minutes, my body cried out, “you’re 62, not 16.” Without hesitation I went to the women’s locker room and prepared to enter the steam room.

For 10 wonderful minutes, I experienced the ultimate in relaxation, so I thought. When I exited, women were preparing for water aerobics. They have two huge indoor swimming pools with two giant twisting slides that dived into the water. I made a mental note to experience this water adventure by spring. In the meantime, I decided to take aerobics and yoga on Tuesday and Thursday.

My first aerobics class was last Tuesday. The aerobics class was challenging but I persevered, inspired by another “senior” who was determined to make it to the 30 minute finish line. It was time to shower. I finished in time for the yoga class. I was delighted by the faces of women of different ages, ethnicity and shapes: Asians, Trinidadians, Caucasians and African women sharing the same space and purpose. Within 30 minutes, we ascended to a space of peace, unity of body and spirit. Our teacher, a Trinidadian woman, shared her thoughts and philosophy of life. It was an awesome experience. The following Thursday, my yoga teacher was young but I truly enjoyed her unique style.

I urge every citizen to experience the YMCA. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family; its “medicine” for stress, obesity, diabetes, cancer and life threatening illnesses. The Brown Branch also offers an excellent mentoring program and an after school physical and academic program.

The benefits of exercise are invaluable. Selma maybe lacking in Broadway styled theaters and exquisite restaurants, but few cities can rival its venues for life extending exercises. The walking trail at Bloch Park is also phenomenal. It has strength building activities and words of wisdom at every post. They are also privately owned facilities such as Curves if you want a small and more professional venue.

I challenge Selma to be known as the city where nearly every citizen participates in an exercise program. It is a goal without a racial or political agenda.

I pray that one day the Bridge Crossing Jubilee will be an event that heals the spirit and inspires a collective effort to make Selma the best it can be, for all people, especially our children. In the meantime, we have the YMCA: a goldmine right in our backyard. Selma, we can do this!

Rose Sanders