LifeStyles changes local woman’s life

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edythe Williams, a member of LifeStyles Medical Fitness Center in Washington, poses in the facility’s pool with swimming instructor Bob Dorn. LifeStyles, part of Beaufort County Medical Center, marks its 10th anniversary this year. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)

Like a modern-day mermaid, Edythe Williams slices through the clear water of the swimming pool at LifeStyles Medical Fitness Center.

The Chocowinity woman can be found in the pool up to five days a week, something she couldn’t imagine a year ago. But with the help of swimming instructor Bob Dorn, Williams overcame her long-held fear of water after joining LifeStyles last July.

“I had a bad experience with water years ago, but I started swimming lessons on July 5 and by Aug. 17 I was swimming,” said Williams, an expansive smile brightening her face. “Now, I just love it!”

Health issues brought Williams to LifeStyles’ door in the first place.

“I was having so much trouble with my knees, and I went to the doctor and found out I had arthritis in my knees,” Williams recalled.

Injuries suffered while she a basketball player in high school were once again interfering with her mobility and comfort.

“The doctor told me I would need a knee replacement. I didn’t want to do that, so they suggested water aerobics,” she said. “I visited LifeStyles, and I was very impressed with the manager, Judy Van Dorp. She gave me a tour and a free pass to see if I’d like it.”

It was love at first sight for Williams.

“I just love LifeStyles because of the people there,” Williams said of the facility, which marks its 10th anniversary this year. “You’re always greeted with a smile, and we encourage each other.”

Aside from conquering her fear of water and seeking relief from pain, Williams decided to tackle the various types of exercise equipment at the facility.

“I’ve always been a competitive person, and I wanted to see if I could master the other equipment, too,” she said. “I’m on the treadmill 30 minutes to an hour three days a week, and I’ve recently built up to 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer.”

Williams has surprised herself with what she’s accomplished.

“I never thought I would ever participate in a triathlon, but I did one LifeStyles offered last fall,” she said. “Over an eight-week period, we did 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of bicycle exercise and 26.2 miles of running and walking. I also formed a ‘Biggest Loser’ team with my friends, Liz Hill and Betty Carrow. We call it The Queen’s Team, after my nickname. So far, we are the leading team. … I’ve lost 22 pounds since late January.”

A cancer survivor of 18 years, Williams said she often put her life on hold to help take care of others. Now, it’s her turn.

“It’s all about me,” she said with a laugh. “My husband, Artis Lee Williams, is so proud of me. He can see the weight loss, and he can see me getting around better.”

A social butterfly by nature, Williams has bonded with other exercise enthusiasts who formed what they dubbed The Celebration Club.

“Once a month we go out to eat together,” she said of the group, whose members hail from across Beaufort County, as well as Plymouth and Roper. “We start working off what we eat the next week.”

Williams said LifeStyles’ emphasis on physical fitness and health education sets it apart.

“Lifestyles offers different things to help you in a healthy way; it’s a health-oriented facility,” she said.

Williams is part of the target audience LifeStyles hopes to attract, according to Van Dorp.

“The Edythes of this world are why we are here,” she said. “With a little bit of guidance, she has become an exercise guru. She’s developed what I know will be a lifelong habit that’s going to add years to her life, that’s going to add quality to her life. She’s so much fun to have in our little fitness family, as we call it here.”

Williams agreed that LifeStyles has changed her life.

“This is part of my routine now,” she said. “My first love is Jesus, the second is my family and the third is Lifestyles!”

For more about LifeStyles, see Sunday’s Pamlico Horizons in the Daily News.