By Joe Hobby
Since I had knee surgery earlier this year, I’ve been looking for a low impact method of exercise. Actually, my wife has been looking for me. My choice was no exercise – that’s low impact, right? Of course, she completely ignored my comments and promptly enrolled me in her water aerobics class at the YMCA. I should’ve reported her to the DHR.
Whoever paired exercise with swimming pools should be forced to wear a Speedo that’s three sizes too small. Pools are made for slothful activities like sunning on a lounge chair, or hanging on the side with an adult beverage in hand. Swimming laps or diving (unless it’s a cannon ball), should be against the law.
Nevertheless, I agreed to go to water aerobics because I could use this for leverage the next time I wanted to go on a guy’s golf trip. So in a couple of days, I walked in the Y, flashed my ID, and for the next hour, was SOL.
I changed, went outside, and was greeted by a swimming pool chocked full of people. It looked like Gulf Shores on July 4th. But instead of girls in skimpy suits, muscular guys, and kids splashing around, just about everyone had more wrinkles than a cotton shirt left in the dryer. I saw white hair, no hair, and even back hair (mostly on men). In addition, there were floppy hats, baseball caps, and lots of modest one-piece swimsuits covering up saggy skin. One of my fellows first-timers turned to me and said, “I thought they did this for exercise, but most everybody in here is fat.”
I gingerly stepped into the way-too-cold-for-me water and several of the ladies began laughing. “Just go under and get it over with!”, one of them shouted. “No thanks,” I replied. “You get hypothermia your way, I’ll get it mine.”
She grinned and said, “Oh, quit being a baby.”
I looked at her, waved my rubber ducky, and moved to the far end of the pool.
Our instructor for the class was Wendy – a young lady who obviously takes her fitness seriously. Wendy probably thinks cheeseburger is a four-letter word. On the other hand, I think they’re one of the basic food groups. Everyone in the pool said she is a sweet girl who runs a tough class. Oh please. How hard could she be on a group of seasoned citizens? Besides, before I set foot in the water, I vowed to work as hard as I could. So, bring it on sister!
The music boomed, and all of us began sloshing around. The tunes were perfect for this group – oldies for the oldies! Wendy was a fan of my kind of music, so we got a liberal dose of the Temptations, Aretha, Elvis, and The Beatles. Soon, “Ain’t To Proud To Beg”, and “Help” took on a whole new meaning as the workout got more intense. It was tough sledding. After each song, I gasped for air, while Wendy smiled and effortlessly moved to the next exercise. They were right about her. She could easily be a drill instructor on Paris Island. I began to think this was less an exercise session and more like elder abuse.
As the class progressed and I struggled to keep up, I noticed a curious phenomenon – quite a few of my aquatic classmates weren’t struggling at all. That’s because the only muscles they were working were their jaw muscles. A number of the women talked throughout the entire class. A couple of them even had their backs to the instructor!
I couldn’t help but hear the group behind me. Their conversation covered a wide range of topics, including
mulching flowers, collectible figurines, how to fry chicken, and getting cysts cut off at the dermatologist. If yapping in a pool was an Olympic sport, then I was surrounded by gold medalists.
It probably led to home conversations like, “No, I’m not doing any housework today. I’m exhausted! I did water aerobics, you know!”
Forty-five melodious, tortuous minutes later, it was over. My legs were quivering when I got out of the water – and it wasn’t because of the music. The next day, parts of me hurt that I didn’t even know I had. What are hip flexors anyway? Whatever they are, they were sore. Thank you, Wendy.
I managed to keep attending the classes despite my aching muscles. Hey, I couldn’t let my wife one-up me. And after a couple of months, I noticed that I was going up stairs without any knee pain. Surely, it was the water aerobics.
Or it could be my new waterproof copper knee brace. I heard several of the women behind me in the pool recommend it highly.