YMCA of the Prairie

Ed Arends

Former PE Teacher Stays Active at YMCAs

As a former PE teacher and coach, Ed Arends of Elwood knows the importance of staying physically active. That’s why he has driven hundreds of miles over the past decade to exercise at YMCA of the Prairie branches in Lexington and Holdrege.

Exercising at the Y gives Ed something to do in his retirement and keeps him mobile and active so he can continue to do the activities he loves, like golf.

Ed is originally from Mullen, where he spent his teen years playing sports and lifeguarding, teaching water safety classes, and managing the local swimming pool. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force and eventually earned a degree in education. For 30 years, he taught PE at Elwood Public Schools, where he also coached wrestling, football, and golf and served as the athletic director. He retired in 2010.

After a very active career, Ed said, “I just decided I should find something to do in retirement.”

He joined the Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington many years ago and drove 22 minutes to Lexington to exercise three to four days a week. His routine consisted of walking and light-weight lifting.

In 2015, Ed had back surgery to fuse three vertebrae. Recently, back spasms made it more difficult to walk, so he decided to drive 27 minutes west and try out the swimming pool at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege.

After just a few months of water exercise, Ed has already noticed improved stamina and mobility and less back pain.

Although he grew up around water, Ed admitted he hadn’t been in a pool for years.

“It took a while to get everything going again,” he said.

At first, Ed could only walk in the water and do a basic elementary backstroke. He dedicated 45 minutes to his water exercise several times a week, and now he can swim a freestyle stroke again. His routine includes one lap up and back followed by walking four laps and then repeating.

“I think it’s definitely helped my mobility because at first I couldn’t even swim on my stomach,” he said.

Ed doesn’t mind the nearly half-hour drive to Holdrege.

“It gives me something to look forward to each day instead of sitting and looking at the wall,” he said. “It’s a friendly place. You feel welcome right away.”

Ed is an avid golfer and still works part-time during the summers at Lakeside Golf Course at Johnson Lake. His improved mobility from swimming is sure to improve his golf game this summer!