Fit Feature: Johanna Johnson

Johanna Johnson, 51, of Okemos, wants to see you on the water and in a dragon boat. Johnson is the coach of the Water Warriors, an all-women dragon boat racing crew, and she’s looking for crew members.

“Some women currently on the team had to initially overcome issues with balance just to safely get in the boat,” she said. “Committing to yourself and a spirit of cooperation is a big part of being the kind of team player it takes to be a part of a dragon boat team.”

Johnson, who is a craniosacral therapist, said she likes the workout that dragon boat racing gives her. Twenty rowers are in a dragon boat and race against other crews. She practices yoga, runs and does strength training to stay in shape.

“I feel the need to work out to promote healthy aging of my body’s various systems, to be able to maintain my very active lifestyle, to reduce stress, to be able to perform well doing the activities I enjoy,” she said. “My current fitness goal is to increase my strength for paddling the dragon boat year on a sport division team. This is a more competitive level of paddle, so more strength and endurance are needed.”

She said she enjoys coaching and making sure her team is ready to compete.

“The biggest challenge I face is communication,” she said. “It is my job to communicate boat commands effectively so that all twenty women understand what I am asking of them. I have to understand that each woman is unique and every person has their own best way of learning.”

She said the team holds an open house in the spring and that any interested participants can try to paddle. Many of the current members were runners before joining her crew.

“Water Warriors is accepting of women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and fitness levels,” she said. “I encourage new paddlers to start where they are.”

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