Ugh. Freestyle.

Swim Instructor: I think it is time to work on the freestyle.
Me: Nope. Ummmmm. Maybe?
Swim Instructor: So what are you hesitant about?
Me: Breathing. Choking. Drowning. Being hauled out of here in an ambulance. And if I don’t die, finding a new gym that is close and reasonably priced where people don’t know the story of the drowning old lady.
Swim Instructor: Lets just focus on the breathing.

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.

Today I Did Not Punch An Old Lady In The Face

My first thought this morning was a string of creative profanity followed by some half-hearted attempt at self-motivation. This was my first day at the earlier swim time and I forgot how early feels. Ugh morning! I mean sweet! I can’t wait to swim! I didn’t even bother to look at the weather and the ridiculously butt-numbing-cold temperature for fear I would lose the little motivation to which I was clinging.

I scraped off my car both inside and out, and slowly drove on the packed ice that was once a road; every stop and start was a slip sliding tractionless adventure.

I parked and started walking to the pool taking carefully placed baby steps to ensure I remained upright. My 2-block walk was filled with positive affirmations, praising myself for actually attempting to exist in this polar vortex of hell. Convincing myself this would be the best swim ever known to womankind. This day was going to be awesome and this swim was just the beginning of the awesomeness. By the time I arrived at the building, I was oozing positivity.

I walked into the locker room feeling motivated and ready to go when I turned the corner and saw HER. Shirley, the leader of the old lady coven that ruled the pool during this hour. Ugh. I had forgotten about SHIRLEY. Gossipy, cranky, nosy, bossy, SHIRLEY.

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In Praise of Swimming

I have been back in the pool now for a week and I am amazed at how quickly I have taken to it after my long absence. My muscles remember the moves and my hips provide that extra flotation preventing me from drowning no matter how slowly I swim. And boy do I swim slowly.

I love swimming at the Physical Therapy pool, the temperature is a comfy 92 degrees and I can reserve a lane for a whole hour. Breast stroke one way, back stroke back and a few side stroke laps now and again to add variety. Had I ever mastered that whole breathing aspect of the front crawl I would throw that in but I just swallow water and that is unpleasant.

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