The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Saturday, April 05, 2003  

My Mommy Kicks My Ass

Wait! Commercial Message! My Success Story just went live on iVillage. Yipes. Baby needs a new tube of lipstick!
(Rob Kurtycz of the G.R. Press and BBK Studio gets the photo credit for the after photo, which is really pretty great, considering the smirking subject.)

Okay. On to our subject. Sorry for the title, if it offends. But I aim for accuracy, above all, in my writing. And the title is precise. It's the right title for this subject, which is Water Aerobics/Aquatic Fitness.

You know, if you've followed along, that when I started this big weight loss effort, I had gotten too heavy to do much serious moving without hurting myself. I started out in the pool, gasping out laps with a kickboard until I could swim them, then swimming steadily more each day.

On the OTHER side of the buoys were the majority of the pool's 6:30 a.m. users. Not the lap swimmers, but the water aerobics classes. All women, a median age of perhaps 60 or 65, oldest in the 90s, youngest maybe 45. Women of all sizes.

I had an attitude about these women, even when I was too weak myself to kick the whole length of the pool: I thought they were adorable. With their hairdos and disco music and their Styrofoam floats made to look like real dumbbells. Special little pool shoes. Little foamy belts on. Sweet webbed mittens. Cute as buttons. I thought water aerobics was mainly a great way for these women to be social while keeping their bodies kind of loose and stretched out. They made me smile.

It wasn't until I visited my mom in Florida, and joined her with her friends in the neighborhood pool (borrowing an extra foam belt and pair of Styrofoam floats), that I got it. These women are not cute, they're animals. They're wirey, sinewy, gristley, toughies. And they really kind of enjoy watching a newbie saunter in, and wind up bobbing and floundering for air.

Now, I do think they'd have grabbed me by my hair if I'd stayed down a little too long. But I'm not positive.

They kicked my ass.

The lesson: don't assume, just because it's your grandma's aerobic activity, that water aerobics is easy. Never assume, because an exercise says "low-impact," that it's easy. Or an ignoble pursuit. It is not written that you must torque your joints out of usefulness to get a good workout. There is no level of cool achieved by exposing yourself to injury to get your heart rate singing and your body burning serious calories.

Instead, you can get yourself a foam belt, and webbed mits, and a set of Styrofoam dumbbells and head for the pool.

Shallow water walking and running is a place to start. You will very quickly understand why this is a good workout (resisting water is a lot of work, hard to appreciate until you try it), and why wearing shoes is a good idea (pool bottoms were not made to be kind to your skin). Deep water running (this is why you wear the belt), is a wakeup call. It's plain hard to do. The first half a length feels pretty good, if you can achieve forward movement at all, but keeping it up for length after length? Well, brothers and sisters, just try it, is all I can say. It's not as easy as it looks.

A little homework reveals what my body told me must be true. Water aerobics is one of the most efficient calorie burning exercises conceived. The resistance builds muscles all over your body while you're engaging your heart. It's the perfect exercise. And it's nearly impossible to hurt yourself while doing it, so long as you maintain good form.

I discovered that with bad form, it's rather easy to hurt yourself. I remember wobbling out of mom's pool and heading home for a nap. And recovering three days later.

I couldn't help think of them today. I have started a little running program. I'm a week into it, which means, basically, everything is starting to hurt. As I finished the last half mile of today's run with my knees and hip and quads and shoulders all complaining (well in 17-degree windchill, who could blame them), what I kept thinking is that water aerobics is not only an efficient exercise for tough people, but also the exercise of choice for people too smart to abuse their bodies any more than they have to. Maybe it takes getting to 65 to get a clue.

And maybe some day I'll be that smart. I'm working on it.

Do try it, some time, and the next time you see a lot of white-haired ladies in the pool, you know, be polite. They could hurt you.


Why it's good
Water Aerobics Equipment
Lynda Huey's Complete Waterpower Workout
Could be mistaken for my mom's posse

posted by Julie |
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