Why didn't I try this sooner???
The short answer is that I didn't really have a decent, practical bathing suit for a long time. And I HATE shopping for bathing suits. But, on a recent trip to Toronto I had to get one to visit a spa with my sister-in-law, and I lucked out and found a great one - comfortable and supportive and also looks great!
I needed to sign up for some sort of exercise this winter, and the closest affordable gym is driving distance. Since I don't have the car during weekdays, that would mean I'd have to exercise on evenings and weekends. But I'm a morning person and I prefer to work out in the mornings, while the kids are at school.
So that left the aquafit program at the local community centre, a ten minute walk down the street. When I originally inquired about prices several years ago, they only gave me the monthly rate, which seemed expensive. I found out that the longer you sign on for, the cheaper the rate becomes. A three month or six month membership is very reasonable as they offer classes three mornings and two evenings per week.
I went to my first class a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. There are several things I love about aquafit and I'll explain in detail what appeals to me:
1. Heavenly coolness: The water at this pool is just slightly above room temperature, so quite comfortable. Usually I'm sitting in the bleachers, sweating in the humidity while my kids have their swimming lessons. Actually being in the pool for almost an hour is really appealing. And even though the workouts can get quite intense, I never get hot and sweaty!
2. Lack of visibility: Since my body from the neck down is underwater, nobody but the instructor has the slightest idea whether or not I'm doing the moves properly or as speedily as she is. For someone who is very self conscious about her performance in situations like this, that leaves one less thing to worry about. I can focus more on doing my best and trying my hardest to get the moves right, rather than on what I might look like to others.
3. Seniors: No, really. I love that the aquafit classes are primarily filled with elderly women and men. Being the youngest person in the group can be a great feeling, and being surrounded by people whose bodies are as big or bigger than yours is really nice too. The young, skinny and fit people are over at Good Life kicking ass in Body Step classes that would probably kill me. I would rather be surrounded by hefty older people who realize that looks are not what it's all about. It's about staying mobile and being as fit as you can be, in order to lead a long and comfortable life.
It is genuinely amazing for me to be in a change room surrounded by older women who may have been slim and objectively beautiful in their youth, but whose bodies have mostly succumbed to the advancing years by adding on pounds and wrinkles and scars from surgeries or multiple pregnancies, but who are old enough and secure enough in their presence not to care. They happily shuck their swimsuits to shower off the chlorine and chat animatedly to their friends. I have been able to lose some of my inhibitions and enjoy being in the company of women who don't judge you by how you look, only if you seem like a nice person and can offer some wisdom and humour to brighten their day.
I wish the world was more like this, but at least I get to experience a micro community of strong, self assured women who don't give a damn what they look like physically. Who have reached an age where it is a triumph to be alive and still moving and still living to the fullest that they can.
4. Community: I've only recently started attending classes and I've already been invited to a Christmas pot-luck on December 18th after the morning class! I joined up for exercise and have discovered a vibrant social group of active, older women whom I'm eager to get to know.
So, yeah, aquafit.