One of my goals in retirement was to get more exercise. Despite the fact that I am a middle aged, mostly sedentary, overweight diabetic, whose preferred form of exercise is pushing buttons on the TV remote control, I decided that retirement was going to be my motivation to become the picture of health- eating right, moving my body, soaking in the sunshine, and fairly glowing with righteous wholesomeness. Well, not so much. Still, I thought it was time to exercise more than just my imagination.
I joined a water aerobics class when I moved to my new home in the sticks. For some bizarre reason, I decided to begin in January. The morning temperature when I scurried from the car to the pool was about 45 degrees. The pool is indoors and heated (I’m not completely crackers), but there was still the commute from car to pool and pool to car with which to contend. The commute from the pool to the car was infinitely more difficult because, even though the temperature was an hour warmer, I was an hour wetter. The class consisted of about 6 die-hards that participated as long as the temperature was over 40 degrees at the time the class began. There is one attendee, who I have dubbed “The Woman Who Never Shuts Up,” who barely moves any part of her body except her mouth during the hour long class. Two or three other attendees sway a little bit, but are obviously there to listen with rapt attention to every story and pearl of wisdom she spews forth while the instructor soldiers on, trying to make her directions heard over the din.
For a little while, I sort of alternated between the water aerobics and a “dry land” walking aerobics class the community also offered. In the minds of most sane people, I’m sure walking around a climate controlled auditorium to music seems the more reasonable option when the temperature is 45 degrees. However, one main factor settled me finally on the water aerobics class. You don’t sweat in the water.
The class is offered three times a week. I average once a week, despite my best intentions. Still, as time marches on and the class expands (now that the temperature has warmed up, there are about 15-20 attendees), I can feel some results. The Woman Who Never Shuts Up still, well, never shuts up. It just doesn’t bother me as much. I understand now that the time goes quicker when people chat during the class. Also, now that there are more people actually exercising, I have more people to watch to learn the movements. I think I’m probably exercising more efficiently and flaying about less. I do feel a modicum of strength and endurance that I haven’t felt for some time. I feel muscles stretching and expanding as I do the exercises. When I finish a session, I feel more relaxed and healthy.
This is not to say that I am the well-oiled machine I visualized. There is one stretching exercise that involves bending a knee back behind me and holding my ankle with my hand to keep my foot firmly against my butt. This seems physiologically impossible for me. I am pretty sure I am not meant to grow a bigger butt to reach the foot and I think my days of growing longer legs to reach my butt are- you should excuse the expression- behind me.
Then there is the series of “bottle exercises.” The idea is to use an empty half-gallon milk bottle in each hand and do some exercises while floating on the water. I have a sneaking suspicion that, if one has any level of firmness in the core muscles, one will remain in pretty much the same location while doing these “bottle exercises.” After maneuvering around the whole pool numerous times while attempting to do the movements without drowning, I capitulated and started hanging on to the side of the pool behind me while doing the exercises.
And then there are the shoulder rolls. Among the stretches we do at the beginning and end of class are shoulder rolls. As I roll my shoulders in little circles to the front and to the back, I am first struck by how good it feels. Then, to my horror, I realize I CAN HEAR THEM! Click, click, click. I am pretty certain you aren’t supposed to be able to hear your muscles move. When did this happen? Maybe it is Morse code for something. Maybe something like…. This is what happens when your preferred form of exercise for 30 some years is pushing buttons on the TV remote control!
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