Water Calisthenics

Have I made it through the holidays? If so, why don’t I feel better? It was all I could do last night to stop thinking about my failed marriage and go to sleep and my first thought upon waking was my husband.

Thankfully the second thought was, Yay, I get to swim today. Thank goodness for that.

I got to the pool at around 10 a.m. today and warmed up for about 15 in the deep pool. I made a break for the lap pool because two lanes were open and I hoped that meant I would not have to share a lane. I hadn’t done laps since Monday and it felt great.

If I make myself swim purposefully slow I do quite well. My ability to alternate breathing on both sides is getting better each day and my primary goal is to be able to do laps for over 45 minutes without much of a break between laps. Right now I stop from between 3 and 15 seconds depending on how well I controlled my breathing. In time I hope to increase my speed and get it up to 60 minutes or more.

I am doing mostly freestyle, but now and then I throw in a lap with the paddle board, or do a couple of laps of the breast stroke, side stroke, or back stroke. But it’s 85% freestyle.

I am constantly adjusting my swim cap and today as I was pulling it down, one side of the cap just ripped off in my hands. I finished the laps without it, but didn’t like the feeling. I’ll pick up another one later today.

After a good 30 minutes of laps I went back to the deep pool and challenged myself to work my legs, arms, and stomach.

When you’re in deep water like that you are not really lifting your body weight as you move, but you are pushing against the water and that’s where you get the resistance you need for a workout. I’ve noticed that as I get stronger, the way I do certain exercises has become more in control and certainly more graceful.

One of my favorite stomach exercises is a sort of a slalom skiing motion. I use the “weight” buoys just to balance myself as I lean back and pull my knees up, then I alternate knees up and then push out, knees up and push out, and each time I’m changing sides. I try to keep my upper body straight, while I twist my waist, hips, and legs from one side to another. It moves a lot of water and I can really feel it in my gut and sides. I can see that’s it is very difficult to describe movements in the water!

It’s easy in the deep pool, when you are doing a challenging move to stop and change to an easier move without really realizing it. I avoid this by making the other side of the pool my goal, or count to 50 or 100 so that I can’t simply move out of the position without realizing I’ve done that. I think that’s a danger when you are chatting with someone. That is the difference between water aerobics being like a gentle stroll or a run.

When I do something with many repetitions, I try to think, would I do it this way on land? Because alignment is important. If you do a move wrong 50 or 100 times (even in the water), you’re going to end up with kinks and soreness. I imagine my workout in the deep pool to be more water calisthenics rather than water aerobics but it doesn’t really matter as long as the heart is pumping fast and the muscles are being worked.

Most of the time in the deep pool I try to keep myself aligned (more or less straight up and down, hips under shoulders, long neck, head straight) and this really does help you work your core. Other times I purposefully lean forward or backwards slightly to work different muscles.

The week is winding down so of course I’m beginning to think that I did not eat very well this week and I may not have lost an ounce. I hope that’s not the case, but if it is, I need to simply be prepared to do better next week, after all, this is not supposed to be a temporary way of eating. It’s still a bit difficult, at about 235 pounds, to get excited about a measly 2 pounds a week. At this weight, can’t I expect to lose a bit more?

The bottom line is I’m losing the weight I’m losing and I can’t see how I can eat less and still have energy to exercise. One can diet and lose weight without exercising, but that’s not how I want to proceed. I want physical activity to become a daily part of my life both for fitness and for fun.

Next week all the classes at my city recreation center are free so that people can come try them out before they sign up which I think is terrific. I’m really excited to see how much “land based” exercise I am able to do now, after almost three months of intense water exercise.

For now I will take slower moving classes such as tai chi and yoga, but someday I think it would be fun to take zumba or a dance class. Perhaps when I’m closer to the 200 pound mark.

Yesterday I spent some time online reading about the certifications people get in order to teach water aerobics. It’s not horribly expensive except that you need to travel for the practical side of the test and none of the locations are near here. Even then, I wonder how competitive it is to get a job teaching water aerobics in this town. There are only so many pools. Still, I might look into it. It would be a real honor to try to motivate people to better fitness.

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