Since I ruptured my ligaments in my ever-weak ankle back in August, my running days came to an abrupt halt. To this day I’m still not sure how it actually happened – there wasn’t a great fall from grace as I pounded the streets and I didn’t fall over Harley as I made my way down the stairs one morning. It just randomly started hurting. Off I went to my fabulous Physio (with the wrong assumption it was sciatica) and before you know it, I was having injections, told to rest and of course, wear the dreaded medical boot. And definitely, under no circumstances whatsoever, was I to run.
And here we are many months later and while the pain has eased, and the boot has been consigned to the back of the under-stair’s cupboard, lacing up my brand new never worn trainers and heading out for a good trot around the block, is still off the agenda. Unfortunately, the ligament is still repairing (I mean seriously, how long does this take?!) and exercise has pretty much been confined to walking Harley. Needless to say, my fitness levels have decreased, and my waistline has increased tenfold.
So last week I changed gyms – I love the local Council run one, but there are only so many corn plasters I can cope within the pool! – and in my newfound enthusiasm for all things fitness, I studied the class timetable and found not one, but two classes that I had never tried before. And not only that, they were water-based – ideal for dodgy limbs, aching joints, and as it turned out, anyone over 70. Perfect!
The first of the pool workouts I tried was Aqua Fit – I’m sure we’ve all seen this the of thing on holiday and maybe you’ve even taken part after a glass to many of free sangria. An over-excited instructor in day-glow shorts bounces around on the side of the pool whilst the Macarena blasts out of a tinny stereo system and 20 or so holidaymakers of all shapes and sizes try and follow his moves. Pool workouts are a lot of fun when you’re in 30 degrees heat and you’ve left your inhibitions at home – but on a cold Tuesday morning in Cannock, the reality is a little different.
Yes, we had the lovely instructor bouncing around on the side of the pool and yes, we had the music blasting out. (If you remember Jive Bunny, you’re on the right track!) We also had about 20 women, average age 70, very gently bouncing, moving, swinging, and paddling along to the instructions being hollered above a 1980’s megamix. Now I was all for really throwing myself into these pool workouts – after all I’m here to exercise – but the other women saw it as an opportunity to well, just float on the spot without putting much effort in. I’m sure I was the only one who came out of the pool sweating and red-faced 45 minutes later….
So, my second water-based class was just two days later and definitely more hardcore than Aqua. Let me introduce you to Swim Fit.
Now I can swim, albeit slowly, but I can swim fairly well. I used to swim for the school and have always enjoyed the feeling you get from a good pool session but…. swimming lengths is so damn boring! Thank heavens for this amazing gym-style water-based class….
We started by running two lengths – yes, running in (not on!) water! So much easier than on land I hasten to add… 🙂 Then we swam a quick (not in my case) 8 lengths before following a structured length by length session of using legs, not using legs, underwater, with floats, dumbbells, and the real killer, doing some kind of ‘sitting armchair’ movement and only using your arms to move up and down the lanes. My only rookie mistake was the lack of goggles and as I had the remains of the day before mascara on, I spent most of the session looking like Alice Cooper.
But what a fabulous class! I can honestly say I loved every minute of it and genuinely felt like I’d had a good workout. So, my master plan is to continue with both pool workouts 3 times a week until January, and then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be running not only on water but on land as well.
If you’ve missed any of this series from Jo Howell, you can catch up on all her adventures here.
Swimwear for Women Over (or Nearing) 50: Suits for Every Body Type
Upper Arm Exercises You Can Do In The Pool