Aqua-Breakthrough

A month of flailing my arms and legs around in the pool while trying not to drown is all it took to finally get the hang of this aqua aerobics business. Well, mostly. I still struggle with some of the moves that require my legs and arms to move in crazy ways that would be impossible on land let alone in 8 feet of water that is actively attacking me.

Once my muscles finally got the idea of where they were meant to be, I was able to move them with intent and start to feel the benefit of the activity; it is a good feeling. I cannot actually look at the instructor and her half-hearted demonstrations; instead I stare at the water and picture the moves in my minds eye, which probably means my eyes roll up in my head and I look like I am about to shoot laser beams out of their freaky whiteness.

Eventually, I will explore some other water classes with more capable instructors but for now I will continue to work on my tire run and reverse jumping jacks until my arms and legs can move independently and my eyes do not get so wonky although shooting laser beams would be so cool!

I have also made some progress on the lap swimming front increasing my hourly laps to a consistent 50 up from my previous best of 45. Every session follows the same pattern and no matter how fast I kick my legs, I remain at 50 laps.

My first 5 laps are about warming up and working the kinks out of my body; while I can’t exactly hear them under water, I imagine my joints and muscles are cursing me as they resolve that this workout is actually happening.

In my next 5 laps, I tend to focus on my form, getting everything coordinated and at a reasonable pace to prevent me from sinking to the bottom. Once I hit the 10th lap I wonder how I am going to do that 4 more times but eventually zone out. I think about the day’s task list, what I want to make for lunch, who I want to punch and periodically I hear my inner coach screaming at me to kick my legs harder and move faster reminding me why I am really in the pool.

At lap 25 I get excited knowing I am half way through and note the time to ensure I am on track for goal completion then zone out some more. By lap 40 I begin to tire and my inner coach begins to scream louder, sometimes tossing in profanity, to ensure I end strong.

Depending on my previous progress, I might panic a bit certain I will not make it to 50; I kick my legs harder and start making alternative workout plans to make up for lost laps. Eventually I hit the 50 mark with a bit of time to spare and I casually swim the last lap often doing some spectacular twist or other fancy move to celebrate. I follow everything up with some stretching and a dash to the shower.

Other progress includes little things like remembering towels and under garments and putting on the lotion before I put on the cloths. I have changed up my silver swim cap to a less brain crushing white one so I look like a Q-Tip instead of a pinhead so there is that.

Looking forward to that next aqua-breakthrough as I continue with Operation Suck Less 2014 when I manage to hit 51 laps or when I do those ski mogul things without choking down some water; it should arrive in late summer.

Aqua Aerobics? Aqua-excuse Me?

For Operation Suck Less in 2014™ to be successful, I need to get up off my couch and get moving. I already have my Fitbit and have been slowly ramping up my daily steps to get stronger without reinjuring my various injuries. I have been swimming laps 3 days a week but wanted to try to mix things up so I dove in (not really as it is against the rules) to an aqua aerobics class.

This new class is at the local Y.W.C.A. that I have never stepped foot into despite living within 6 blocks radius of for decades. It is intimidating enough to go into a new health club, but this one was extra scary with all the fake owls in the parking ramp to scare off the birds that like to flock nearby. I parked, looked up, squealed like the girl I am, took a breath and headed in.

Once I got through all the paperwork I didn’t read, tour, and locker room instruction, I got into my swimsuit, pinhead swim cap and headed to the pool. I dipped my toe into the shallow end and immediately shuddered. This pool was over 12 degrees colder than the one where I swim laps and being nearly naked it feels like I am doing a polar plunge.

I slowly kept walking into the chill, staying on my tiptoes as if that somehow kept me warmer. Finally, I just dipped all the way under and popped out covered in goose bumps. I held myself trying to stay warm while I walked about the pool looking for this class that was not materializing.

About 10 minutes after the designated start time, a woman, gonna call her Ava for no good reason, arrived in her parka and boots and random people started to emerge from the locker room, sauna, whirlpool and elsewhere. Everyone was grabbing floating belts and began dog paddling to and fro. I stood around clueless.

Finally Ava, began barking her instructions. Swim dog paddle to the deep end. Breaststroke to the shallow. Row your boat to the deep end. Army-crawl to the shallow. Once she got past the 4 swim stokes I know, I was completely confused. I have no boat to row. What the hell is an Army-crawl? I tried my best to pick up what to do from the fellow oldsters but most of them were just flapping about and crashing into each other.

My first class was basically just me flailing about trying not to hit anyone and pretending I knew what I was doing. I even stayed after to swim laps as I wasn’t sure I had any real exercise in that hour.

Ava never gets in the pool; she sits on the side and yells half instructions. She also gets up and goes to chat with other staffers leaving us to indefinitely row our boats until our boats say screw you I don’t want to be rowed any more.

Most of the exercise moves have names I can eventually figure out. Bicycle, twist, cross-country ski but I was particularly confused but this “tire run” nonsense I was supposed to do. Eventually I gathered I was supposed to pretend I was running through tires keeping my knees high and going in and out; I tripped a couple times just to make it authentic.

Ava has an issue with counting. She is good at “4, 3” but neglects “2, 1”; I am never sure if I am supposed to do 2 more of one move or jump to the next. I am not sure it matters, I just keep moving.

Maybe this is true of regular aerobic classes, but seems half the participants are there to chat. And chat and chat. Eventually, Ava will jump in and there will be a group discussion of the news while I am still doing my tire run trying to coordinate my arms and legs and not drown.

My favorite part of the class is when Ava will try to get people to switch up the obvious ways to move our arms and legs and get our minds to get our limbs to do something new. Everyone looks perplexed and the loudest of the talkers will go on and on about the impossibility of this new move. I try to tune it all out and do as intended until Ava gives up and has us go back to the familiar.

The class mixes in some resistance moves and eventually ends with some stretching and a race from the pool to the awesomeness awaiting in the warm showers.

I have been to 4 classes now. I have remembered to bring a towel 3 times and underwear twice and the time I forgot both presented some unique challenges with my departure. I am still not used to the chill but I am getting the moves down a bit more. Not sure if this is helping much with Operation Suck Less in 2014™ but I am certain it is not hurting.

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