Maurine is moving at 100. She’ll make you want to move too.

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Fresh Start – Free Programs for Better Health

Maurine is moving at 100.
She’ll make you want to move too.

March 7, 2023 — The one thing that might get you up and moving today is this short story about an Anchorage woman who went for a swim yesterday.


On her 365th day at 99 years old, Maurine Loopstra did what she commits to every week: She joined a pool filled with people who do water aerobics at the YMCA Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Maurine turns 100 years old today. She exercised in the pool yesterday. She’ll exercise in the pool tomorrow.


Maurine Loopstra and her aerobics instructor, Jacque Young-Tucker, in the YMCA's Maurine Loopstra Lounge.

Maurine Loopstra, pictured at right, turns 100 today. She stands next to her aerobics instructor, Jacque Young-Tucker, in the YMCA lounge named after Maurine.


Maurine’s commitment to staying active is decades in the making. She joined the local Y on Lake Otis Parkway the very first day it opened in 1978.


“We’ve been coming ever since,” she said.


Maurine’s such a regular that the YMCA named its lounge after her. On a recent birthday, the YMCA staff gifted her a dedicated locker with her name on it. The YMCA is a longtime supporter of Alaska Department of Health programs to help adults prevent and manage diabetes and lower blood pressure. Alaska’s new Fresh Start campaign features YMCA members moving in the ways they like to move, at every age and ability, to help promote free programs for better health.


Maurine likes to move in the water. On a day following a snowfall, Maurine still made it to the Y to join the water aerobics class. One of the youngest people in the pool that day with Maurine was actually the aerobics instructor, Jacque Young-Tucker. Jacque’s 69 years old. Jacque said she started teaching the aerobics class more than 30 years ago. Maurine was coming even before that.


Maurine's dedicated locker at the Anchorage YMCA is inscribed with her name and "YMCA Member #1" on it.

On that day in the pool, Maurine moved in the water to music from years ago. Jacque called out changes to the movements. Not everyone was doing them the same way, but that didn’t matter.


“We’re not really picky about how you move,” Jacque said. “We just want to move and have fun.”


Maurine’s commitment to stay active takes effort, but it makes her feel better each time. Her daughters drive her to and from the Y. She arrives already in her swimsuit so she can move faster through the locker room. From there, she pushes her walker along the pool deck to the stairs on the shallow end. She inches her way down into the water, and then she gets moving.


Maurine swims and catches up with Joel at a recent water aerobics class at the YMCA in Anchorage.

For decades, Maurine has been joining a water aerobics class several times a week at the YMCA in Anchorage. She swims and catches up with Joel during a recent class.


Moving at 100 means walking on arthritic knees — one Maurine injured years ago in a skiing accident. Maurine admits those first steps down the long hallway to the pool feel like she’s dragging. But by the time the one-hour class is done, water aerobics has made it easier to walk that same hallway again.


“I can fly down there,” she said.


When Maurine’s moving through the water during aerobics, she’s also weaving her way through the others to catch up and chat. After class, she’ll stop in the lounge (you know, the one that’s named after her). Water aerobics starts in the water, but it ends with paper cups of steaming coffee and banter around a table.


“We come in here for yakking,” Maurine said. “They say the Y (in YMCA) stands for yakking.”


You meet someone like Maurine and you just want to know: How do you live 5,200 weeks and stay smiling, swimming and surrounded by people at the table who think you’re pretty special?


“Keep active,” Maurine said. “And keep friends around you.”


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