Last night I went to Deep Water Fitness for the first time since we went on our vacation. This is typical of my tendency to put off doing anything that’s good for me until the need becomes positively desperate. Well, “desperate” is a strong word, but ever since we got back from the trip my neck and shoulders have been hurting — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and not always in the same place. No matter what position I sleep in I keep waking up with a crick in my neck. It’s not severe, but it’s definitely annoying. I even got to the point of borrowing Aunt Gertie’s bottle of the old standby, Minard’s Liniment, and putting up with Emma’s complaints about how bad I smelled.
Eventually it occurred to me that a little exercise might be a good thing. And lo, though my neck is still not completely healed, it is feeling a lot better.
One thing I’ve been lucky about is that as I move ever further into middle age, when the need for exercise becomes more acute, I actually enjoy exercise more than I used to when younger. In my 20s I heartily disliked all forms of exercise; by my late 30s I had managed to find a few types of exercise I didn’t mind and now I even have a couple I actually like. Deep water fitness is definitely my favourite way to work out, although I still have to overcome that whole getting-off-the-couch-and-out-of-the-house barrier to get there. As soon as my body hits the water, though, I know I’m in the right place and I immediately feel healthier and happier. Still, nothing prepared me for the absolute triumph I experienced last night in water fitness class.
In my younger days, when exercise was even more of a chore than it is now, one of the many things I tried and rejected was any form of aerobics class. I am probably the world’s least co-ordinated human, and trying to follow the steps and moves of the energetic aerobics instructor while attempting to keep time to the music was positively trauma-inducing. Worst of all, everyone in the class could see how wildly unco-ordinated I was. Definitely not the workout for me.
The thing is, a water fitness class is, essentially, an aerobics class, only you’re up to your neck in water. This is what I like about it — nobody can really see what I’m doing, so if I’m completely messing up, it’s not obvious. (The other thing I like is that water fitness tends to be popular with older and heavier women, so that while there are always one or two toned 20-year-olds in each class, the majority of bodies there are in even worse shape than mine — another big bonus in the self-esteem department).
Anyway, I have now been to enough water fitness classes that most of the moves are pretty familiar. There are, after all, only so many variations on how you can move your body in the water, and I thought I had pretty much seen and done them all.
Until last night.
Last night there was a new instructor I’d never had before. She was tiny and vigorous and possessed of an endless supply of new ideas. During the warm-up and cardio phases of the class, almost every move she had us doing was something new, something I was completely unfamiliar with.
I did my best to figure it out and keep up, noticing as I looked around that many of the other women were as lost as I was. Every so often the instructor (who stands on the side of the pool demonstrating the moves) would point to one of the women in the class and yell “You GOT it!!!” and we’d all either watch her to see what she was doing (difficult when 90% of her body is underwater) or else wish that we, too, had got it.
At one point she had us doing something called a “spin-top” which had everyone thrashing about in the water in vaguely circular patterns, clealy confused. I developed a little modification of the concept that seemed to work for me and was spinning away when to my surprise the instructor pointed in my direction and yelled, “You GOT it!!!”
I looked around to see which of the women near me had uncovered the arcane secret of the spin-top, but there were no other women near me. She was pointing at me. I, Trudy Morgan-Cole, had gotten it.
Only people who’ve ever actually seen me in a fitness class (let’s not even talk about the one dance class I took!) can truly appreciate what a great accomplishment this was. I don’t see it as heralding an exciting new era in co-ordination for me — I imagine I’ll continue to flounder along on the fringes of the class, trying to keep up — but it was one shining glorious moment and it made the whole experience worthwhile.