Achieving goals requires sacrifice. We must trade something we like or have for something else we like or want more. I have been very goal driven and very successful in many areas of my life. I am willing to do what it takes to get what I want with one exception. Fitness eludes me, but something happened at the pool that gives me hope that I am changing.
I knew I was in trouble when I showed up at the pool to swim my laps and they were taking the lane ropes down. I felt a little sinking feeling in my stomach.
I looked at a gray haired women who was tussling with a rope. ” Is there a class now?”
“Yes”, she said. “Water aerobics, you’re just in time.” She smiled at me. ” Newcomers are always welcome.” Clearly, she knew I was not a regular. Was it the blue swim cap and Speedo goggles that gave me away?
I don’t like water aerobics. It is always taught by a retired P.E. teacher or someone whose heyday was teaching high impact aerobics in the eighties. Think high ponytail, leg warmers and a bandana tied around your head. The sound track is predictable, a mix tape that starts with The Rolling Stones (Start Me Up) and moves into 38 Special (Hold on Loosely) and if you’re lucky a little Pat Benatar. It is Jane Fonda in a swimming pool.
I’m not going to lie, I did my share of aerobic dance in the eighties. It is probably to blame for my bad knees today. I even have a friend who was a national aerobic dance champion. It had its moment. I’m sorry, but it is over. Let it go.
I like swimming laps. It is my hour to get my heart rate up, strengthen my arm muscles and think. I like the solitude. It is the perfect exercise for introverts with arthritis. I was tired, and looking forward to my laps followed by dinner and relaxing for the evening. I did NOT want to socialize with a bunch of old people reminiscing as they swimmingly grooved to the sound track of their glory years.
I had three choices-join in, sit and wait for an hour until the class was over, or give up and go home. I needed the exercise. With a family wedding over the weekend and my kids coming home I knew I would not get back for a few days. A less dedicated version of me, in the not so distant past, would have called it a night, gone home and relaxed with a glass of wine.
Begrudgingly, I got in the water. A couple of people welcomed me. The instructor noticed, and waved, “hello, welcome, I’m glad you could join us.”
An older man with thick dark glasses politely asked if I would move over a bit. “I’m expecting another gentleman who always comes to this class. He’s blind, and I kind of help him out. Otherwise he runs into people.”
I moved over and smiled, “No problem. It’s kind of like church, and I don’t know where the regulars sit.” Whatever else this class was, at least the people were nice.
I am not anti- social. I loved Zumba with fifty people in a cafeteria dancing to Hip Hop and Salsa and even a little Bolllywood. We laughed a lot and the instructor was very accommodating. I loved the music, always fresh, always unexpected. We danced our way across several continents in the span of an hour. The hour flew by. I was sad when I tore several muscles in my knee and had to quit.
As for this water aerobics class, there is no sudden revelation here- I did not love the class. It started with Pat Benatar, and I occupied my mind guessing which song would be next. Kansas? Early Bon Jovi? I wasn’t far off the mark. I did the exercises and tolerated it. Time moved slowly.
While I dutifully performed leg raises, I invented a new exercise class, Water Zumba. We would start with The Black Eyed Peas– I’ve Got a Feeling and then move into Shakira and Wyclef Jean’s version of Hips Don’t Lie. From there we would shake it to some mambo. It was brilliant! I could start a new movement! Only later did I discover that someone else had beat me to the punch- Water Zumba exists. Seriously. Sign me up.
I finished the class and helped put the lane ropes back in. Then the instructor asked if I was going to hit the whirlpool. “Actually,” I responded, “I really want to do my laps now.”
” Well, you are a go -getter,” she said. “Have fun.”
As I swam my laps, I realized that for my entire life I have been a go-getter except for in one area. Exercise. No one has ever accused me of being an exercise enthusiast. “Have fun” and exercise do not generally go together. I have previously written about my dislike of exercise and my gym intimidation.
I still have to talk myself into getting in the car and heading to the pool, but once I am in the water, I love it. There has been a shift in my attitude. I like being a swimmer more than I don’t like exercising. My swimming has become a habit, and I miss it if I don’t go.
The fact that I was willing to do an hour of work that I don’t like to get to the hour I do like is a revelation. I have reached every other major goal I have set for myself except getting fit and healthy. I may have turned the tide. No pun intended.
In working towards your goals, there is always sacrifice. I traded my free evenings and weekends as well as a bucket load of money for my degrees. I gave up self-time and independence for marriage. I willingly gave my time and energy to raising my daughters. I have never been able to sacrifice for personal wellness.
Until now. I understand that I need to sacrifice something to achieve my wellness goals, and for the first time, I was willing to do it. I am starting to believe that maybe I can conquer the one thing that has eluded me for my entire adult life. That aerobics instructor is right, I am a go-getter. It is time for me to go get this.
What do you sacrifice for your fitness goals? I would love to hear your ideas and maybe you can help me to stay inspired to go get this !