Fluid Running classes create connections beyond the pool for suburban women

Fluid Running classes create connections beyond the pool for suburban women

While studies show the importance of social connectedness for longevity and improved health, a group of suburban women is using an exercise program to help create strong connections.

Every Tuesday at noon, rain, snow or shine, two dozen women don their swimsuits, fasten their buoyancy belts, and get ready to hit the indoor pool at Superior Training in Willowbrook for fluid running classes.

“It’s a deep-water training program or class. You run at intervals of varying length and speed, and the classes last about an hour,” says Jennifer Conroyd, founder of Fluid Running.

Coach Conroyd leads the class, which has become more than just a workout for some of these women.

“We got together because of the class, but more importantly, we started making breakfast,” said Carol Bobo, who has been teaching for eight years.

Bobo’s first class was in 2015, shortly after she retired after 38 years in education.

“I knew I needed to do something and find people,” Bobo said.

By running the fluids, Bobo found her crew. She is one of 12 women who regularly attend classes together.

“A lot of people feel lonely. And I’m lucky I’m not. Running has done that for me,” said Anna Sisson, 73, who lives in Oak Brook and takes classes three days a week.

The women socialize outside the pool too, and some even vacation together.

“Some of us have formed a Fluid golf group. We party and party, have parties, and have coffee afterward,” said Carla Bear, who has been taking Fluid running lessons for 10 years.

Studies have found that social isolation has a significant relationship with negative health outcomes, but health experts believe classes like these could change that.

“The more you can be out there and be exposed and willing to have those experiences with people, it’s a greater return on investment just for you as a human being,” said Dr. Julie Bruen, a Midwest sports medicine physician. Orthopedics at RUSH.

The group of women who have linked up with Liquid Running classes say they get the best of both worlds.

“You can do this amazing exercise and workout without any impact on your body,” Conroyd said.

They’ve also formed friendships that go beyond water.

“Just constantly sharing things. How can we lift each other up and support each other,” Bobo said.

“We grieve with people when there are losses. We celebrate when there are victories,” Bear said.

It’s more than the Fluid Running founder could have ever hoped for.

“They’ve just made this really great friendship and support each other through the good times and the bad, and it’s been really cool to witness this community that has formed from this exercise class,” Conroyd said.

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