Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fitness Classes...Not Just for Women! by Cammy Dennis

Kick Butt Kick Boxing

I think most would agree that it is unusual to see men in group fitness classes. Women seem to flock to the group fitness room, eagerly following the exercise commands of the enthusiastic instructor. Men, however, seem much more comfortable getting their workout solo in the gym.

After observing this trend for many years, it is my opinion that this is due to two factors; men and women are different and seek out different things when it comes to exercise and men tend to underestimate the workout they can get in a fitness class.

When we examine some very general gender differences, it underscores why there are more women in classes than men. Women seek out connection, discussion, sharing and emotional expression. A group experience embraces all those characteristics.

Men, on the other hand, typically seek out results, action, physical expression and tend to keep things to themselves. This description lends itself more to an independent workout in the gym.

I have overheard objections from many men related to participation in group fitness classes; the reasons usually revolve around the perception that fitness classes are "too dancey." The image of a group of women all "grapevining" in unison is enough to intimidate any man. At the On Top of the World Communities (OTOW) Health & Recreation center and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa, we offer several dance-based group fitness classes but that is certainly not the extent of our class offerings.

Then there is the notion that the workout in group fitness classes is not challenging enough. I would dispute that and invite anyone who has that thought to come and try the KBKB (Kick Butt Kick Boxing) class or the Strictly Strength class. Interestingly enough, men teach both of those classes.

I asked some male OTOW residents why they do or do not participate in our fitness classes; here's what they had to say:
"I wouldn't exercise at home or on my own. I am much more motivated to exercise with other people. I welcome the stretching and breathing exercises that I get in class." - Bob Housenger (Oxycise class participant)

"It's inspiring! I get inspiration from both the participants and the instructor." - Richard Enos (KBKB participant)

"It would be embarrassing; I don't have the flexibility to do the exercises in the classes. I do more muscle stuff." - Nick Nimerala (weight room participant)

"I go for the high energy and the good physical workout." - Mike Piccolo (KBKB participant)

"I love it! I take two classes a week and they help me stay flexible. If it weren't for the class instructor, I wouldn't know what to do on my own. It's great to be a part of a group and I've improved my flexibility." - Michael Krajokovich (Strength and Stretch Fusion and Chair Yoga participant)

"I haven't taken any classes yet but I want to!" - Joe Jingco (soon-to-be group fitness participant)

Cammy Dennis is the Fitness Director for On Top of the World Communities and The Ranch Fitness Center & Spa.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A World Of Learning Opportunities...A New Approach To 55+ Living

On Top of the World Communities, fosters education and learning as the future of retirement amenities and Master the Possibilities Education Center exemplifies that. With Master the Possibilities and its lifelong learning opportunities, active adult living takes on a whole new meaning.

Master the Possibilities represents a new emphasis to adult education.  Many communities operate on an “activity center model,” using the same space for classes as for recreation or other group activities.  “While several communities have multi-use activity centers, Master the Possibilities is a free standing facility whose sole purpose is education,” explains Daniel Dowd, Education Director. “We promote opportunities to grow, be creative, contribute and continue the learning process we call life. To this end, our Master the Possibilities Center is a valuable component of our vibrant community.”

On Top of the World is very likely the first adult residential community in the nation to have a dedicated education building.  “We’re at the forefront of a genuine revolution in how people perceive and experience the next phase of their lives,” explains Dowd.  “Today’s 55+ adults are the most educated to date and rather than simply retiring to a quiet, uneventful life, they are striving for new levels of personal fulfillment, having choices and opportunities. They are also comfortable with the continuing education model throughout their lives.”

According to Dowd, senior lifestyles have become more active.  Communities must anticipate and respond to this change. “Ongoing education is increasingly important to today’s 55+ adults.  Learning is still incredibly fulfilling to them." Master the Possibilities’ student numbers do indeed suggest a growing trend in lifelong learning.  Once the center opened in 2006 and curriculum developed, the enrollments soared from about 3,000 to a current estimate of almost 19,000 in this its 6th year of operation. Dowd attributes this to the “idyllic combination” of challenging classes and outstanding faculty and of course, the consummate curiosity of current retirees. For example, past and current offerings include presentations by a host of emeritus professors and noted experts. With over 60 faculty and 600 opportunities to learn and grow, this center is a focal point of activity and inquiry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Marion County's Natural Springs

One of the unique features of Florida’s landscape is the presence of natural artesian springs. Not just a few here and there, but as many as 700 springs exist around the state. They provide beauty, a place for recreation and life-giving water to the residents and visitors of Florida.

Underneath the State of Florida is an aquifer made of limestone. As the water cycle goes, rain water is absorbed into the ground, permeates through layers of limestone by which it is cleaned, finds its way to underground rivers and then resurfaces through openings in the aquifer called springs. Sometimes this is a small, trickling flow. At other times, it is enough water to create and sustain a river. The difference is in the spring’s magnitude, the amount of water flowing per unit of time. In Florida, there are 33 first magnitude springs. Silver Springs, the largest artesian spring in the world, is a first magnitude spring. It produces 550 million gallons of water a day and serves as the headwaters of the Silver River, located just east of Ocala.

Spring water, in general, is 99.8% pure with a temperature of 72° Fahrenheit year round.


In the State of Florida there are 12 state parks named after springs. These parks were established to both protect the springs and give public access to them. Ginnie Springs State Park features eight first and second magnitude springs. Along with the springs themselves, there are extensive underwater passages which can be explored. Because spring water is crystal clear, a spring and spring fed river offer explorers the perfect environment for viewing cave structures, aquatic life and more. Located west of Gainesville, Ginnie Springs is the “most popular freshwater diving location in the world,” according to www.floridasprings.org. In addition to swimming, snorkeling and diving in the springs or the rivers they produce, recreationists can also enjoy the natural areas around the springs with hiking, biking, camping, and more. At Manatee Springs State Park, visitors in the winter have a chance to swim with manatees, gentle “sea cow” creatures which come to this area between November and April for the constant (and “warm”) 72 degree water of the springs.

The springs in Florida have long provided opportunities for business. Over 125 years ago, local Ocala resident Hullam Jones realized that people would enjoy a closer and clearer look at the beauty of Silver Springs, the Silver River and the wildlife living therein. He crafted a canoe with a glass panel in the bottom. Guests were delighted at what they saw as he would row out into the river. Over time this simple, yet clever, idea grew into one of central Florida’s first major tourist attractions. By the 1950s as many as 800,000 visitors were coming to Silver Springs Attraction each year. Today, locals and tourists alike still visit Silver Springs Attraction for the glass bottom boat rides.

Another business that developed more recently is bottling drinking water. The purity of the spring water is ideal for this. Additionally, recreational opportunities available both in and around the springs support eco-tourism in the state.

In the early 1900s, people started coming to Florida for spring-side health resorts. One such resort, established in the late 1940s, is Warm Mineral Springs Wellness Center in south Florida. In this case, however, the spring water is 87° Fahrenheit year round. This warm water, combined with its high mineral content (3rd highest mineral content in the world), is said to provide healing properties for those who enter. In addition, the high mineral content of the water provides a greater buoyancy factor, making it easier for aquatic exercise. This spring is not, unfortunately, as suitable for scuba diving as the clear springs because the minerals tend to quickly deteriorate the metal parts of a diver’s equipment.

The aquifer is a life source for residents of Florida who draw upon it for drinking water. Because of this, it is extremely important to take care of the aquifer. Although a person may not live directly next to a river or spring, his and her actions can still affect the aquifer. Drawing out too much water, as well as polluting allowing excessive amounts of chemicals to absorb into the ground, is harmful to the aquifer (and, in turn, to ourselves). In order to minimize the negative effect on the aquifer, initiatives such as Florida Yards & Neighborhoods (FYN) have been established. FYN purposes to educate residents on how to minimize the need for water in their yards by utilizing Florida-friendly plants (those which are adapted to the local climate and therefore require less manual watering and fewer chemicals). On Top of the World Communities is a Florida Yards & Neighborhood award winning community because of its commitment to such practices in the residential and commercial landscaped areas.