So. I joined the YMCA. Technically I rejoined since I used to be a member. When I did the lady at the reception desk said, "WOW! The last time you joined was 2004!" I felt like she was saying, "You haven't exercised in 2 years!" and I felt ashamed. The sad part was she was right. I hadn't.
I decided to start slow with a class called 'Aquasize". The name brought to mind senior citizens bobbing around in a pool and you know? I wasn't half wrong. Here is how it went down.
Got to gym and purchased swimming cap and lock. Freaked out on way to locker room as I remembered that I was that kid in high school always late to class because I could never get my lock open. Ever.
In locker room. Grabbed two scratchy towels the size of washcloths. Pretended I didn't notice several fully naked women of all body types walking around me. Picked long locker, changed into bathing suit and swimming cap and proceeded to try fifteen times to open my lock until finally a woman took pity on me and opened it. She did her best to explain to me how to use my lock - talking to me like I was a foreign exchange student. I sort of was. My brain froze over as it often did in Math or Science class.
Stuffed last minute items in locker and closed lock knowing there was no way in hell I'd ever be able to get it open again after class. Put lock combo in work shoe (forgot flip flops) and shuffled in work shoes in bathing suit and swimming cap to showers - took shower and headed out to pool. Asked teen lifeguard with dreadlocks where Aquasize class was. A long pause and he said, "Um...the slow lane." (bad sign)
Waited patiently for teacher and students to arrive when all of the sudden the doors to the women's locker room opened and a huge outpouring of large, round, happy and chatty older women with Bronx accents waddled their way over to the slow lane. Teacher was beind them.
When all the women got in the water two things rose - the water level in the pool (I'm not kidding) and the decibal of noise due to the women chatting all at once and apparently catching up from last week's class. They were like a sea of chatty blowfish in floral bathing caps.
"Marie! Haven't seen ya...how was ya bbq?"
"Thanks for askin'! The grandkids were happy"
"I made a pot roast the other night. Cooked it in the crockpot. To die for!"
"Awww...ya add potatoes?"
"My back's been hurtin' me."
"Look there's Joanne! JOANNE!!!! OVER HEREEEE! JOANNE!!!!"
The women continued to bob along until the teacher blew her whistle and told everyone to pick a spot in the pool (2 lanes worth of space) to claim as their own.
The women despite their age and size scrambled into place like agressive Tetris pieces - apparently their regular spots in the pool. It all happened so fast that I was left with no option but to be stuck in the shallow end in about four feet of water despite being the tallest person in the group. I had to crouch down in order to keep my shoulders under water. Ow.
Class proceeds with an overly enthusastic but genuine female teacher who when she yells, "How we doin'?" in a thick Brooklyn accent really wants you to yell back, "Great!" and she is not kidding. When she asked us to do this I caught a side glance of some young hipsters doing laps in the lane over from us staring at me. I also noticed at the deep end of the pool on the other side of the women was one guy around my age. What the hell? He had a wedding ring on. Does his wife knows he does Aquasize when he says, "Honey, I think I'm going to hit the gym after work." Or was it his wife's suggestion?
We begin with some slow warms ups. Ridiculous crazy moves with silly titles like 'The Electric Frog' and 'Churn The Butter'. Teacher, "OK LADIES!!!! HOW WE DOING?! EVERYONE READY TO CHURN THE BUTTER? CHURN THE BUTTER. CHURN THE BUTTER." I've never made butter underwater but all I know is that it can't look or taste too good.
Mini crisis. Lorraine - the woman closest to me in the shallow end needs her styrofoam noodle. Her buddy who is like the tough Aquasize lady who will now be known as 'the screamer' yells for Lorraine to the teacher, "TEACHA! LORRAINE NEEDS HER NOODLE! LORRAINE NEEDS HER NOODLE!? The teacher runs over the styrofoam noodle to Lorraine who apparently is a little fearful of drowning. In two feet of water.
I'm actually starting to enjoy the class. Because I can do 13 times the amount of Churn The Butters than everyone else does in one round I realize I can make this class my own. Married guy at the end of the pool seems to also be taking a similar philosophy. He has now added the heavy underwater styrofoam weights to his excercise regime.
All of the sudden I feel really good about my body. I feel my stomach muscles. My legs are moving. I feel muscles in my arms I never knew I had. This is why people excercise! I look down and the halter dress bathing suit I'm wearing accents my boobs. My boobs are floating. Oh my god I'm like Lindsay Lohan pre-anorexia. This is great.
To wrap up class the teacher decides to my mortification that it would be fun if we sing, "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" while swinging our fake bats from side to side under the water. Then something happens. Lorraine - the fear of drowning noodle hugger - gets totally into the song. Something about this song brings out the best of Lorraine. Reminds her of her childhood in the Bronx - I don't know but when the part of the song that requires the phrase "Buy me some peanuts and..." and specifically the word "CRACKERJACKS..." Lorraine scream/sings "CRACKERJACKS" in a tone not unlike Edith Bunker. Her voice shatters off the tiled pool walls and it makes me truly laugh out loud and in a good way. I was tempted to turn around to see how the hipster swimmers behind me were judging this final encore but for a moment I didn't even care. I was proud of Lorraine. I wanted her to hit a home run.