This past Monday, I was finally able to do something I have dreamed of doing since I had to stop, due to health issues, early in 2011. I renewed my fitness center membership and have had my first work-out.
I am limited in what I can do; I’m 61, after all, and I have very bad osteoarthritis. Being half-crippled with this disease, however, isn’t a free pass to just sit and do nothing. Even in the years since I had to quit the center, I’ve worn a step counter every day, and I’ve kept moving. There are days when the pain is quite severe, but I kept moving, knowing full well that if I didn’t, soon I wouldn’t be able to.
On Monday, my routine for my first visit to the facility was simple, but at this point I’m just so darn glad I’m back, that simple is fine by me. I walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes (not very fast, and no incline for me at this point); then I rode the stationary bike, also for ten minutes. That was interesting once I figured out how to program a course and watch the monitor as the trees passed me on a road in the French countryside. After a brief rest, I then hit the pool, which for me is the main event.
At the time I had to end my swimming, I was swimming 50 @ 25 meter lengths (1,250 meters) a day, nearly every day. I don’t swim fast—completing those lengths took me about 45 minutes, which included a couple of two minute breaks. I don’t swim freestyle, or any other recognizable stroke. I do my own variation of a back stroke. Instead of my arms coming out of the water in a circular motion, I just stretch them out and then use them as if they were oars, to push me through the water. It’s not pretty, but my arms are moving (and against the resistance of the water), my legs are kicking, and I do get from one end of the pool to the other.
Monday, I was only able to do 4 @ 25 meter lengths. But that was better than the number I’d been doing for years, which was none. Also, what made me really happy, was that by the end of the second length, my body recalled how this motion worked, and my soul wept with joy to be back in the water again.
I’m not under any illusions. Despite the fact that I really don’t eat much (just enough to meet the requirements of being a diabetic, really), I’ll never lose dozens of pounds. Not happening because I also have hypothyroidism. But I’ll be moving. I’ll be active. I’ll, by damn, gain energy from the practice of going to the facility and that energy will infuse my brain with creative juices.
I purchased a family membership. I wanted my husband to come with me, but he doesn’t share my attitude of moving through the pain. So my daughter is coming with me when she can. And that’s good, it gives us something to share. She can lose weight, and that is one of her hopes. She also has a bit of early arthritis in her one knee that she broke, so it’s just as crucial for her to keep moving as it is for me.
Since I frequented this facility in the city next to us, they’ve made some pretty impressive changes and improvements. One of those improvements is that there is now a hydro-therapy pool. It’s like a giant Jacuzzi but the water is only warm, not hot—nowhere near as hot as it would be, say, in your own private hot tub (if you had one). That makes sense as a lot of people who use this particular pool are either older, or they’re disabled. Warm is good, hot can be dangerous.
For now, my plan is to go to the center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I do intend to increase the number of lengths I swim with each visit, and my exercise times perhaps a little each week. We’ll see how that goes.
The most important thing is that I’ve been cleared to swim, and swim I shall. Before I had to stop, my time at the pool was my happy time, in my happy place.
I have no doubt it shall be so again.