Come on in, the water’s fine!

They say — and just who the hell ARE they? — that we learn something new every day if we keep our eyes and ears open.  This week I learned that it’s possible to sweat underwater.

I’ve fallen in love with the pool.  Not the great pee-filled paradise of my youth, but a glittering expanse of cuddly clear blue water, marked off in lanes.  I am distinctly not an exercise lover but the pool has captured my heart.  I love the muted sounds and the clean saltwater smell; the silky feel of the water as I slip in for laps; the sunlight shining through the ceiling panels making fog hang in the air; the way I feel wrapped in cotton, alone in my head, nothing in front of me except the lane and the goal — to stay afloat.  And when class starts, I love the adorable instructors who crank the music and urge us to jump and kick and stretch and wriggle our cellulite, which they do not possess.

I love the women I meet there.  Many are likely older than I am, although who knows.  Some are far younger — new moms.  It’s a delightful bunch because they’re honest and irreverent and hilarious.  There’s a crankypants or two in class but I have to assume they’ve cultivated that for a while and aren’t likely to switch attitudes, so I leave them to their grumbling and their mad-faces and hang out with Jo and Barb and Andrea and Roxy and Pat and Sandy and assorted others who are just there to have a good time and keep moving.  All of us by now have sustained losses that have shaped us.  We don’t talk about it, we just know.  And of course we don’t discuss body shape, because we all have parts that are surrendering to gravity, legs that are melting into our ankles, wear and tear that dictates what we can and cannot do.

We’re a motley crew — we roll out of bed and show up at the gym, grab a shower, suit up and start swimming.  A lot of these gals have not only never invested in a Brazilian, they haven’t shaved their underarms since the Cold War — a very genuine and healthy practice, in my humble opinion.  We wear our baby-bellies like a freakin’ badge of honor, although to be honest mine’s become a too-many-carbs belly, which is what brought me to the pool.  We give it our best shot to keep up with the zero-body-fat instructor who’s winning a dance contest poolside or in the water with us every morning, and we grin and laugh and hoot when we finally find our rhythm.

In the water … nothing hurts much.  There’s no temperamental low back, no rickety shoulder, and the 7 Purple Minions of Fibromyalgia are in time out.  There are enough sore muscles later to let me know I used them, but that’s a good hurt and I welcome it.  It’s highly motivating that women in their 70s and 80s show up for personal torture day after day, and do it with a smile.  Surely I can manage at least that.  I do hope it will be a longterm relationship, the pool and I.  And I really hope carbs melt in saltwater.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carrol Burnett
    Mar 02, 2014 @ 10:50:01

    Oh, to be so brave. Judy I would love to find a secluded pool somewhere for such soothing exercise. Just can’t bring myself to such exposure in a group setting. Good for you though ! It sounds like a wonderfully fun group.



    • Judy Smith
      Mar 02, 2014 @ 15:42:12

      The club is huge and there’s every age, body type, and state of health represented. One man hobbles to the edge of the pool with his cane, then slides into the water and swims laps. At least one of the women in my water aerobics class looks like she’s at least ninety, but she’s all smiles and gives it everything she’s got. There are enough wrinkles, bad veins, fat rolls, and flab to sink a battleship, so everybody’s kind of in the same boat (except those fat-free instructors), and it helps that the pool’s at the far end of the building and has its own dressing rooms — we don’t have to parade in front of anyone except each other, and we’re all just women who are getting older day by day. I’m learning lots of good life lessons! If you have an opportunity I would really, really recommend the water.



  2. Grief Happens
    Mar 01, 2014 @ 15:09:28

    Beautiful writing! Glad you found something that works for you — sounds amazing.



  3. Seth
    Mar 01, 2014 @ 11:26:29

    …since the cold war



  4. jennypellett
    Mar 01, 2014 @ 07:25:24

    Go Judy! Swimming is wonderful and it sounds as if you are having a ball!



    • Judy Smith
      Mar 01, 2014 @ 11:17:09

      I finally found my exercise niche and I’m not even that much of a swimmer. The comfort of the water, the camaraderie, the music … it all works and I’m glad to have stumbled upon it at last. 🙂



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