Aqua aerobics

Henry Turner Jr. teaches an Aqua Aerobics class at Copper Sky in Maricopa.

MARICOPA — Henry Turner Jr. used to drive over two hours each way for two years from the Joliet, Illinois, area to Champaign-Urbana to teach spin class until residents found a reliable local teacher.

“We do the things we love,” said Turner, who brought his fitness teaching skills to the aqua aerobics class at Copper Sky Fitness Center seven years ago.

The Aqua Aerobics class regularly fills with 20-50 participants. On a recent visit, the class of 32 included 29 women and three men.

“This pool class supports the pool when the kids go back to school,” Turner said. “Most of these class members are here only for Aqua Aerobics, and they almost never miss class."

Aqua Aerobics is a reason many members belong to Copper Sky Fitness Center. Classes are year-round and in the winter, some participants don wetsuits.

The aqua aerobics class meets at 9:30 a.m. and runs five days per week, but at one time was offered seven days a week.

“We have enough residents interested in filling those weekend classes,” said Turner. “We just need another instructor.”

Part of the secret to his success is that Turner mixes it up. No two classes are ever the same, so neither the body nor the mind habituate or become bored with the movement or music.

“There are no plateaus in my class,” said Turner, who introduced the novel concept of boxing into aqua class as part of his routine.

After class, a student meets Turner on the deck and shares with him the health progress she’s made, and he offers her a high five.

“We socialize, we teach each other, we motivate each other and Henry is fantastic,” said Patricia Pierre, an east coast nurse of 40 years, now resident of Tortosa who comes to class five days a week.

Turner also rotates workouts — heavy days, theme days and climb days — as a way to avoid plateaus.

“I usually have music to 120 beats per minute, so you know that if you keep pace with the music, that’s your heart rate,” he said. “Today, I really got 'em though because the music is 140 beats per minute, Michael Jackson, so they’re working harder."

Turner knows the value of being “Henry on the Spot.” He began his 19-year spin career as a sub for a semi-pro hockey team in his hometown near Joliet when a spin instructor failed to show for class.

On arrival in Maricopa, Turner again started out as a substitute when a spin teacher did not show up for class. Turner has now been a spin instructor at Copper Sky for five years and is the longest serving aqua aerobics pool class instructor at Copper Sky.

In addition to spin certification, he is also certified by Medicare, Silver Sneakers, Stroops (large orange resistance bands), Body Shred (Jillian Michaels' trademark) and as of May 2019 as a personal trainer.

Turner is also a lifelong personal fitness devotee — into bike races during his 20s, he also completed over 2,000 5K races during his 20s, 30s and 40s.

While his father, Henry Turner, Sr., a smoker, was in his 40s, he developed lung cancer and passed away. In response to his father’s death, Turner trained for and ran two Chicago marathons, spring and fall of that same year.

“Some people take vacations, but not me. I enjoy every day I’m here. This is my vacation,” said Turner.