There’s a rebellion of octogenarian
women brewing at Palm Chase Lakes over a water aerobics class.
For the past quarter century, the women
have gathered three mornings a week at the community pool in the
suburban Boynton Beach condo without incident for a water exercise
class. But things aren’t so simple anymore.
“The Palm Chase Lakes Board of
Directors is concerned for the safety of its residents and guests when
the electrical outlets at the pool are used for reasons other than
maintenance procedures,” read the letter sent to Ellen Gartner, the
80-year-old ringleader of the water exercise enthusiasts.
Being denied an electrical outlet is a
big deal to the water exercise class.
The class began about 25 years ago as a
specific routine developed by a resident. Because that woman found it
hard to narrate the workout while doing it, she recorded her voice on
a cassette tape and then played the tape as the class followed her
That routine, which has outlived the
woman who created it, was recorded again by current resident Esther
Popkin, 88, and the recording was eventually transferred from cassette
tape to a compact disk.
For three mornings a week, a couple of
dozen women would retrieve their communal boom box from the nearby
women’s restroom, plug it in near the pool, and play the CD with
Popkin’s recorded voice guiding them through the 40-minute workout.
“We need the tape,” Popkin said.
“Our memories aren’t that good anymore now that we’re in our
80s, so without it, we’d forget what to do next.”
The routine of the class was jolted in
January after the condo elected a new president, Melvin Weinbaum, who
found the arrangement too dangerous.
The women were using an extension cord
on the pool deck, which was a tripping hazard, and placing the boom
box too close to the pool, which was an electrical hazard, he said.
“It was dangerous,” class member
Sylvia Pearlstein, 86, agreed. “So we removed it. But everything we
did wasn’t good enough for him. For some reason, he’s got it
To make sure the women didn’t use the
electrical outlet they had been using, Weinbaum had it locked.
“We didn’t want anybody getting
hurt,” he said.
But that wasn’t the only electrical
outlet available. There was one far away from the pool on the wall of
the clubhouse by the water fountain. And no extension cord was
The women set the boom box on a table
against the wall and plugged it into the outlet there. Problem solved?
Not according to the letter Gartner
received last week from the condo board.
“We have consulted our attorney and
he agrees that constitutes a serious liability issue for our
association,” the letter said. “You and the other members of the
water aerobics class are therefore requested to immediately desist in
using the electrical outlets to operate your recorder.”
How can placing the box directly in
front of the outlet far away from the pool be a serious liability
“We’ve had people trip over car
blocks in the parking lot and sue over it,” Weinbaum said. “The
outlet is where people come out of the ladies room. They’re asking
Popkin thinks the only person looking
for trouble is Weinbaum.
“He’ll do and say anything. Oh,
he’s a character,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t vote for
Banning the use of all electrical
outlets at the pool except for maintenance workers was news to
Canadian snowbird Ginette Bourque, 64, who was one of only three
residents to brave the chilly temperatures on Wednesday morning to do
the pool exercise routine.
“We used the outlet with the radio on
a table against the wall,” she said. “If somebody could trip over
that, they’d have to be an acrobat.”
Weinbaum said there is a simple
solution, and one the board’s letter mentions.
The women need to use batteries for
their boom box.
“There’s a woman who already has a
set of rechargeable batteries, but they won’t use them,” he said.
The batteries aren’t the solution,
the women say.
“The charge lasts only for one
class,” Gartner said.
So who gets the batteries to recharge
for the next class? And what happens when that person doesn’t show
up for the next class?
“Some people don’t even know how to
put the batteries in,” she said.
So this one’s heading for a showdown
at the next condo board meeting.
looks like a battle of the titans,” Bourque said.