Okay, one of the things I did NOT put on the list of Clues to Old Fogeyville was ‘Participation in a water aerobics class.’ A few months ago that would definitely have been on my list. The only thing I knew about water aerobics was how back in high school I picked up my grandmother after her class once or twice and got to see all the other grandmothers in their purply flowered swimsuits with skirts. They were cute. Aw.
I am now one of those grandmas. Sort of. (No skirt. Or grandchildren.) I take a water aerobics class at the pool in a nearby school. For reasons that make sense of you’re there (and no sense if you’re not), there is a sculpture of John F Kennedy’s head on the wall above the pool where we practice cross-country skiing in the deep end. I think this is the most surreal and probably my favorite detail about the whole thing.
A friend of mine started taking classes there a few months ago and said it was really helping her back. I have a grouchy back – it gets out of sorts and refuses to cooperate way more often than it should. (Definitely another sign of Old Fogeyhood.) So I decided I was going to brave the truly mortifying prospect of appearing in a semi-public place in a swimsuit for the benefit of back-helping exercise.
I’m so glad I did. Here are the things I love about my water aerobics class.
- The afore-mentioned stony gaze of JFK’s head. I don’t know why. I just love that he’s up there watching us splash.
- The grandmas. I don’t have grandmas anymore, and I miss their company. These ladies are not my grandmothers, but they are good company in a similar way. I love hearing their opinions of teenagers, Dancing with the Stars and the Geico Neaderthal guys.
- My back does feel better. Go figure.
- The anti-gravity belts. Okay, that’s not what they’re called, but that’s what I call them. You strap on a Styrofoam belt and let yourself down into the 10 foot section. The belt keeps you afloat so you can do crunches and barbell lifts (the barbells have foam instead of weights) and hamstring curls, etc. They make me feel like Judy Jetson. Plus they cover your tummy when you’re not in the water. Awesome.
- It’s the anti-swim. When you’re swimming you do everything you can to lessen resistance and build up speed. In water aerobics you seek out the resistance and do everything you can to create more work for yourself. Speed is irrelevant. It’s contrary – I love that.
- The whirlpool. You get a group of 8 grandmas (the group is actually not all grandmas – there are quite a few of us who are younger, and even a few men, but since it’s the grandmas I love, I’m gonna keep calling them that) going in a circle, ‘jogging’ and scooping their hands, eventually you build up a whirlpool. When the instructor tells us to change directions you do an about-face and find yourself going nowhere, or sometimes even backwards. I love that.
- The instructor. The woman is like a little machine in a swimsuit. She can go for hours. She can talk for hours. All at the same time. My first class we heard all about her new house, her mother’s recent visit, her new furniture, her husband’s participation in the purchase of new furniture, and a little about her teenage daughter. We get a dose of the daughter every week it turns out (she’s at that age apparently), but we also get a lot about her travel plans, her softball team, her garden, and so on. It’s a little like an old-fashioned radio serial.
- I can wear my glasses.
- No sweat. I workout and get sweaty but don’t have to deal with the icky smelliness of it because I’m in a pool. It’s a beautiful system.
- It’s like an old-fashioned quilting bee meets a modern step aerobics class. All the chat and good company, in a circle, feeling productive and communal, but with the added benefit of aerobic exercise. I’m telling you, it’s my new favorite thing.