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Teacher's Helper Really Fills the Bill in Underwater Exercise Class


Members of the underwater exercise class at the Jack Kramer Tennis Club swimming pool in Rolling Hills Estates have two instructors, Nan Lewis and Frazier.

Frazier is a duck.

For the past year every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 8 a.m., Lewis and her broad-billed, web-footed Pekin duck have been leading 15 to 25 people through the exercise sessions.

The exercisers are in the water. The natural instinct of the duck is to join them in the pool. But Frazier stays on the deck.

"Frazier is well-trained. He'd love to dive in the water and join them, but he knows he's needed up here with me on the pool deck to help conduct the exercises," Lewis says.

Music plays over a loudspeaker as Lewis and Frazier lead the group in leg and triceps presses.

Lewis swings her arms and lifts her legs to the music. Frazier shakes a leg and wags his tail.

The duck lifts his right leg in the air, stands and stares at the participants for several minutes, then does the same with his left leg.

Lewis jaunts back and forth as do the people in the water. Frazier waddles closely behind the instructor.

"Frazier is a riot," says Shirley Cozen. "He does the same thing Nan does in his own ducky way. Frazier keeps us all in stitches."

At one point the duck's eyes blink, then slowly close tight. People shout: "Wake up Frazier! Wake up Frazier!"

The duck opens his eyes, cocks his head, waddles over to Lewis and unties her shoelaces with his broad bill.

"Sometimes Frazier leans over into the pool and tries to give one of us a kiss with his bill," Mary Lou Damon says. "We duck out of the way. A kiss from Frazier and we'd be missing half a lip."

Exercisers wear swimsuits and inflated cuffs on their wrists and ankles. The cuffs help keep their shoulders above water.

The cuffs also increase the resistance of the water, requiring three times more effort to move arms and legs, increasing both cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance, Lewis says.

Those in the class insist water exercise is great. Harle Damon, 72, had a knee replacement recently and his doctor recommended this form of exercise as therapy.

Andrea Craig says she lost 103 pounds exercising with Lewis and Frazier three times a week and watching her diet.

Why a duck at an exercise class?

"I never set out to get a duck. My daughter gave me Frazier as a pet. The duck follows me everywhere. One day I brought Frazier with me to the exercise class as a lark," Lewis recalls.

"Everybody loved the duck. So Frazier joined the class.

She says Frazier, who takes his social cues from the people around him, is so charming he even gets invited to parties with her. "Once Frazier and I received an invitation to a formal dinner party. I dressed Frazier in a black tie and tuxedo. He was the hit of the party."


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