Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unexpected Delights

"The water is your friend.
You don't have to fight with water,
just share the same spirit as the water,
and it will help you move.
Aleksandr Popov

Today water was most definitely NOT my friend. In fact, today, water kicked my butt.

It is said that it takes 21 days to start a new habit (or is that break an old one?). When I joined the Y I really wanted to add swimming to my routine, to make it a habit. Maybe not daily, but at least 3 times a week. The pool is open from 5am to 9:30pm so you'd think I'd be able to find an hour sometime during the day to get my swim in. The trouble is I haven't zeroed in on an exact time. I just go when the spirit moves me. This is where I make my mistake.

Yes the pool is open, but that does not mean there are always lanes to swim in. And if there are lanes that have not been roped off, there are sometimes as many as three people swimming in them. I don't mind sharing with one person. Two is getting way too complicated for me. One day last week I waited for 15 minutes, wet hair dripping, goggles and swim cap at the ready for a lane to open up. I kept my cool. I'd already inhaled the smell of chlorine and my body was like Secretariat in the gates just itching to get free and start moving. It was worth the wait.

On Tuesday, I arrived a little late. The lanes were full and half the pool was closed for family swim. Dangit, I said to myself as I looked at the clock. I had an hour to wait. The family that was taking advantage of half the entire pool consisted of a toddler about 2 ft. high, a mother who sat on the side of the pool and a father and a swim teacher. I was pretty sure this child was not going to be using the deep end of the pool. I figured I could still get in and tread water or kick my legs from the side.

I asked the lifeguard for permission. He told me to ask the teacher. She told me to ask the lifeguard. I was beginning to lose my cool. What was it going to be rage or tears? The teacher's final answer was the old,"if I let one person do it, everyone will want to so I can't let you in the water on this side of the ropes."

Fine, I said. Fine! Fine! Fine. I was out of the pool area and into the locker room and out the front door whipping by he perky red-shirted guy at the desk who told me upon check in, "just think how good you're gonna feel in a few minutes." I considered stopping to tell him just how good I felt. Then I realized he might point out to me that the Y is much more than a pool, and offer to lead me to the nautilus machines or enter me in a spin class. I decided it was better to just cool off at home.

A couple of electricians were at our house at 8 o'clock sharp this morning. Since I had to be up anyway I put my suit on and headed to back to the Y aiming to get there before the morning classes started. Surely there aren't any swim classes before 9am. Wrong! I opened up the door to the pool area and saw only two lanes open and, as before, they were packed full with serious lappers. There was no room for this pokey girl to swim. I could feel my blood pressure rising.

I noticed other ladies, most older than me, smiling and saying hello, putting on float belts and getting into the water with the enthusiasm of kids at recess. Then, they noticed me. I must have looked lost or helpless. A very trim and obviously fit petite woman introduced herself to me and invited me into her "deep water fitness" class. Come on, she said, it's a lot of fun. Come on, said the few of the others like we were already old friends.

What the hell? What did I have to lose? Vivien, the instructor, handed me a belt only to find it didn't fit around my waist. Nice, I thought to myself. What am I doing here? The 2nd belt also needed some letting out but I got it fastened, grabbed my noodle and headed for the deep end of the pool with about other 20 ladies bobbing up and down like ocean buoys. Not one wore a swim cap, a couple wore make-up. They all wore smiles. I think it was the smiles that kept me in the water.

Let me just say that working with a styrofoam noodle is not kid's stuff. Oh I suppose riding it up and down the length of the pool with arms circling forward, then back, and legs moving as if on a water treadmill could have been considered fun. Then Vivien got serious. Stand on it, she yelled from the side of the pool where the noodle she was standing on laid perfectly still on solid ground. It was either me or the noodle under the water, neither at the same time. I looked around at the other ladies. Several were much more coordinated than I am, their hair still dry, makeup looking good. A few, like me, were having trouble balancing. Still others were still riding the noodle around in circles perfectly enjoying doing their own thing.

One lady near me kept offering encouragement and suggestions. Vivien kept coming to my end of the group saying, Good Mary. Keep it up, Mary. Well, I'm hear to tell you I stayed for the whole hour. Before getting out of the pool, Sylvia (we exchanged names!) told me of the water aerobics classes held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday - same time, same place. She gently let it be known that these classes are a little easier. Do you come every day, I asked. She nodded her completely dry head as she proudly told me she is 75 years old. Good Golly, Miss Molly, my legs were cramping, my neck hurt and I looked like a drowned rat. With her red lipstick and pearl earrings Sylvia looked like she could go straight from the pool to tea.

Maybe there's something to this water exercise. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it was just what I needed.

Wishing for you a friendly smile when you're feeling pooty,
Merry ME


terri said...

ah man...i laughed....'stand on it' and i'm picturing trying to stand on the darn noodle!
way to go, mar! good to read!

AkasaWolfSong said...

Bravo Miss Mary...Bravo!

The quote is sooo appropriate and I love it!

You're a Brave Girl! :)

Sending you love and hugs...