It’s not every day that begins with a procession of scantily clad senior citizens bobbing in the deep end of the pool at seven o’clock in the morning. But that is exactly how my first day of water aerobics started.
About a month ago, I injured one of my legs while training for a half marathon. I had to stop running for a couple months, so I decided that swimming would be the safest exercise during my recovery period.
I arrived early that first morning of class, blinking repeatedly in the glare of the bright morning sun. After meeting the teacher, I quickly wrapped my waist in a flotation device as instructed, and grabbed a couple of Styrofoam dumbbells, making my way to the deep end of the outdoor pool.
My new classmates filed in, peeling off their mumu-like cover-ups one by one. I was the youngest person by 35 years. The median age of my classmates was roughly 71 and some change.
As the grannies gingerly lowered themselves into the pool, it looked something like a Far Side cartoon. There were body parts headed in directions that gave even gravity a run for its money. There were funny looking spindly legs topped by overly amble middle sections that looked shockingly similar to Twinkies perched on toothpicks.
I couldn’t stop staring. I think it was the inevitability that was so fascinating. I couldn’t help but think I would be just like them before I knew it, but hopefully with decidedly more stylish swimwear. I suddenly realized that all my futile attempts at prolonging my youth were headed in one direction and one direction only – straight downhill.
While I noticed that these ladies didn’t seem to put a lot of thought into figure-appropriate swimwear, they certainly valued proper and liberal application of bright red lipstick first in the morning. They were of the school that said that you don’t leave the house without your lipstick no matter what the task at hand. And, apparently, that included water sports.
As we started to paddle around the pool, the ladies noticed the one of their classmates did not match the others. Each lady introduced herself to me, each telling me how much fun the class was, and how they enjoyed coming several times a week.
Clearly, they had all been attending this class for years, and came as much for the gossip as the exercise. I laughed to myself as I listened to them discuss their recent doctor’s appointments, the best bingo nights around town, upcoming funerals, and of course, the weather. Weather is very big among older people.
Once the class got going, we executed numerous swimming exercises that resembled something between blind senior ballet and inebriated water polo, minus the coordination and precision. I nearly bit a hole in the side of my cheek trying not to laugh.
We did laugh, the ladies and I, as we bumped into each while traveling every which way across the pool. Awkward as they were, I was impressed by the freedom and confidence they exuded. I supposed everything is more graceful and buoyant in the water.
As we finished our class, the grannies asked me to please join them again. How could I resist? Where else can you get this kind of entertainment so early in the morning?