The day after her 100th birthday, an Anchorage centenarian is back in the pool

100 year old Maurine Loopstra makes the journey from the pool deck and the locker room. “I call it icy alley,” Loopstra said. “When you’re in a wet bathing suit and you have to hurry through.” (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

The day after she turned 100, Maurine Loopstra did what she does every Wednesday: water aerobics at the Lake Otis YMCA in Anchorage. 

“I come every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And do an hour of water aerobics and then come in here and yak,” Loopstra said. “That’s what ‘y’ stands for, yakking.”  

Maurine Loopstra catches up with friends during her water aerobics class on March 8, 2023. Between exercises, Maurine loves to yak. “The ‘Y’ in YMCA stands for yakking,” Loopstra explained. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

Loopstra has been a member of the Anchorage YMCA since the first day it opened almost sixty years ago. 

Maurine Loopstra poses in the YMCA lounge, which was named after her. Loopstra has been a member of the Anchorage YMCA since the first day it opened over 50 years ago. (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

Jacque Young-Tucker is the instructor for the 10 a.m. water aerobics class. She teaches every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and her class has more than 50 regulars, mostly older Alaskans. Young-Tucker has been a water aerobics instructor at the Y since 1993.

“Maurine has been in my class before I even started. So I’ve been teaching over 30 years and I just had some of the greatest people,” Young-Tucker said. “Working out is very, very important to us. But I feel like our social time and our fellowship is just as important in keeping our mind, body and spirit and everything working together.”

The 10 a.m. water aerobics class is a tight knit group. Another regular, Bob Wall, acts as the group’s secretary and keeps a phone list of his 50-plus classmates that come regularly. He checks in on people if they don’t show up to class to make sure they’re okay.”People will come and tell me when they’re on vacation, because they know I’m gonna be calling.”

Several class members spoke about how important their friends at the Y are to them. After their hour-long exercise class, they gather in the lounge, which is named after Maurine, to drink coffee and “yak.” They credit exercise and socialization to keeping them healthy. 

Loopstra agrees. She shares her secret to longevity: “Keep moving and upbeat people!”

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