My Own Special Kind of Water Torture

I don't have enough time to "construct" blog posts these days, I sort of just have to throw posts up and hope that they are coherent. At least my blog posts aren't covered in various baby juices.
Do people say that? "Baby juices"? No, probably not. I am a horrible mother.

So here -- pretend this is a paragraph or 27 where I delicately remind you that I'm the most out-of-shape ever and I really need to do something about that and weight loss is newly important to be because I no longer have:
A) a bowling ball growing inside me, jackhammering my bladder all day long
B) an incapacitating scar from where said bowling ball was removed from my abdomen
C) excuses

Pretend those paragraphs are enlightening, touching and hilarious, while you're at it.

Next, pretend that the faux paragraphs also say something meaningful about how I want to be in better shape so that I will be able to actually PLAY with my child when she's a rambunctious toddler, and not just sit on the sofa while trying to control her with the DVR remote. (PAUSE! PAUSE!!!!)

So now that you've all enjoyed those non-existant paragraphs, let me tell you what I'm getting at: I just added myself to Ish's gym membership. In pretend, I did so for the above reasons. In actuality, I did so IN PART because of those reasons, but also because the gym offers daycare for babies over 2 months old for $5 an hour or $30 a month UNLIMITED. And that makes the gym my new favorite place to go in the whole wide world.

But but. Having failed at attending the gym regularly in my 97 previous attempts, I thought that this time I needed to do something different. Not that the daycare isn't a super motivator, but I thought maybe I'd be more likely to go if I felt obligated to attend an actual class. If I had to be on something of a schedule.

And that is when I decided, after all these years, to take water aerobics. Note: these days, they do not call it "water aerobics" they call it a "hydro-fit" class. Which sounds way more hardcore, even though, well, I'll get to that.

I used to swim a lot when I was a kid. I was on swim teams and loved the water and it is maybe the ONLY form of physical activity I still enjoy. I have long wanted to take some sort of water fitness class.

Except for one thing.

Taking a water class at a gym requires wearing a bathing suit in front of strangers. Right? I mean, need I say any more about this? It's pure nightmare fodder. So, no water classes for me.

Well, until now. But let me explain that there are two, distinct parts to my "hydro-fit" experience. The stuff that happened before my first class, and the punishment that is the class itself.

Part A: The Stuff That Happened BEFORE My First Class

For about a week, I mulled and milled about, determined to go to the stupid class, really wanting to go but fearing the whole thing. I'd decided I'd attend the class that starts at 10:30 in the morning, because anything earlier wouldn't give me enough time to get out of the house. I'd ordered and received a "special" (i.e., plus-size, cover-my-everything) bathing suit. I just had to get over my anxiety.

You know that anxiety. Where do I drop Eve off? Where is the locker room again? How do you work the lockers? What should I pack? Where do I change? What shoes should I wear? Do I bring a change of flip-flops? Do I need my own towel? Do I need a swim cap? Ear plugs? Will the instructor know I'm new? Will she call me out? Will all the women in the locker room feel sorry for me in my "special" bathing suit? Can I blame all my excess weight on my baby? I bet I could...

And then the morning came when I swore I was going to go, and I am not even kidding you. I started getting packed for the gym at about 8:30 a.m. to leave the house at 10. I had to figure out what I was wearing there (it's not easy to change back into clothes after wearing a bathing suit, especially if you're trying to do it quickly behind a curtain with damp skin and you can't let any of your stuff touch the wet floor -- I've tried this before), and what to take with me. Then I had to pack Eve's stuff for her first time at daycare, and I didn't want to just hand over her diaper bag, because it's also my purse.

By the way? Here's the gorgeous bag I purchased from "AnnyandMe" on Etsy to be both diaper bag and purse:

Click on image to see the Etsy store -
there are dozens of patterns available!

And that took forever because I have no idea what I'm doing.

Eventually, we managed to leave the house relatively on-time, which I was kind of bummed about because I would have settled for any old excuse not to go. But we did go.

And I met the ladies at the daycare and they were great. And then I got to the locker room and didn't know how to open the lockers and had to go ask the guy at the desk. But with those hurdles done, I just had to change, rinse off, put on as much emotional armor I've ever worn, and wander out to the pool in time for class.

Part B: The Class Itself

The gym we belong to is gorgeous, and it's part of a hospital. This means that about half the gym's clientele is what you would expect out of a gorgeous suburban gym: lots of personal trainers working with hot housewives and a bunch of Pilates moms coming and going from their spin classes.

What I forgot about, though, was the other half of the gym's clientele. Namely, the people who are there for medical reasons (re: the hospital). 70-year-old men who've had heart attacks, for instance, and folks with severe physical disabilities.

Now, I hadn't really spent much time considering who attends a water aerobics "hydro-fit" class. I mean, my last gym in San Francisco (the Crunch Fitness in Russian Hill) actually teaches that aerobics class for women who want to better wear high-heeled shoes. (Yes, the class actually requires that you wear high-heels during it.) I guess I just assumed that a "hydro-fit" class would be full of Pilates Moms.

Um, no.

The pool was a scene straight out of Cocoon. I just, I was...I was taken aback.

Or, well, okay. Not everyone was that old. But there was only one other girl in a class of about 15 who was under the age of 60, and I think she might be a little slow.

So then I had to recalibrate. Instead of being self-conscious for being woefully out-of-shape, I suddenly found myself self-conscious for being so young and spry. And comparatively thin.

Well! Of course, it's a LOT easier to get over feeling self-conscious for being the most fit than the other way around. It didn't take me long to feel more confident.

But then that changed, too.

Because after just a few minutes -- the young, petite and spunky instructor did ask my name, and did introduce me to the class -- I was saddled with the ridiculousness of it all.

This is the last-resort class! I realized. This is the class they have for people who can't do anything else! And worst yet, I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!

It was like my own special hell. This, I thought, is what it's come down to.

"Hell" is, of course, too strong a word. It's not that bad. It's just -- this class is a little sad, and kind of hilarious, because it's totally right for me. It's the only class in the gym where I wouldn't feel bad about myself. It's the only workout routine that interests me. It's the only way to get me to go to the gym, repeatedly, and do a full hour workout that actually pushes me but doesn't hurt my body.

It just happens that "my" class is the class where Betty, Doris, and Phyllis (not kidding with these names, I swear) make lame jokes and discuss their grandkids when they should be "cross-country skiing" across the pool.

It happens that "my" class is where the man who looks like a frog and can't use his hearing aid in the pool just basically dances around for an hour making snide comments to mask the fact that he can't do any of the exercises and can't hear the instructor anyway.

It happens that "my" class is the one that allowed me the privilege of watching the (I'm guessing?) 78-year-old man spend 10 minutes tottering from the pool to the locker room wearing a flesh-colored banana hammock.

It happens that "my" class uses the same cracked-out hyper-speed "dance" music that Curves did, i.e., remastered classics turned into upbeat dance-y songs, as sung by God-knows-who but definitely NOT the original artists.

Oh, you have not lived until you've worked out to a spastic, low-budget rendition of Dancing Queen. And you REALLY have not lived until you've done deep-water jumping jacks with ankle weights on while Doris sings along loudly to said spastic, low-budget rendition of Dancing Queen. Especially because Doris does not actually know the words.


Yup. That's "my" class.


  1. good stuff.

    When I got my 'cover all' bathing suit that is supposed to make me look 10 pounds thinner, I got stuck in it, panicked, and had to call my boyfriend to get me out of it.

  2. Ha! I can relate to the bathing suit emotional armor.

    Here are my 2 tried and true methods to get my fat butt from the locker room to the pool:

    1. I adopt the toddler philosophy of "If I can't see them, they can't see me." (Only works if you're kinda blind...which I am without my contacts.)

    2. I imagine I'm wearing a tiara. That one works in any situation.

  3. This was a big hit when I showed up wearing it to my hydrofit class :)

  4. Why not just go and swim? You already got over the worst part (the bathing suit in public!) might as well go for a swim, even if you can't swim much or far the first few times around.

  5. BB - Because without structure, I don't think I'd do very much. And I'd get bored just swimming laps. The class is actually really fun, and I get a great workout. The benefit of being in the water is that you get out of it as much as you put into it (as with all resistance training). Ultimately, the class is a combo of cardio and resistance/strength training -- it's awesome. :)

  6. Anon - that cap is MAGIC. But I'm reluctant to wear a cap because it just accentuates the huge nature of the rest of me. I like to feel like my hair helps balance me out...

  7. I have been reading you for ages but rarely comment. However, I have to tell you how hilarious and entertaining you are - this post especially.

  8. Sounds great to me! And you might just adopt some additional grandparents. People who will babysit and help you out too. :)

  9. Delurking to tell you that I love that you wrote this now, because about 2 months ago a girlfriend and I started doing water aerobics. I used to be a (skinny) swimmer (now not so much) and missed being in the water. It was like Cocoon in there, but now we're just part of the (old) gang, and it IS a great workout. I lift weights during the week and do cardio, and so on Saturday morning even if the water class is hard, it feels great because its stretching out all my tense bits from working out earlier. LOVE IT. Hang in there, you'll be feeling buff in no time!

  10. Oh and my bathing suit is huge. It barely fits in that spinny thing that sucks the water out that they have in the locker room. Talk about locker room trauma.

  11. Water aerobics classes with little old ladies are the best because you can slack off and dick around and still feel super-fit! My mother used to teach water aerobics and being a larger, pear-shaped lady in the pool with the gift of gab really helped her classes get comfortable with exercise when they felt awkward everywhere else at the gym. I've been scolded at "real" lap pools for doing the cross-country ski move across the pool, haters can suck it! Keep it up, that cheap childcare is worth it if anything!

  12. Dude, this sounds like a class *I* would want to join. Seriously and absolutely.

  13. OH dear, I have not owned a bathing suit in six years, but needs to and soon since we're going to Hawaii in a few weeks. I am so dreading this purchase.

    Strangely? I would totally love to go to your gym class. Honestly, it seems, well? Awesome. I have a fear of the classes at my gym since everytime I pass they look all spry and slender, and well, not only would I be *new* to whatever we were doing but I am neither spry nor slender. Or fast...and yeah. Thankfully not too many classes are offered for hours when I'm not working, so it makes me feel less bad for not taking advantage of it.

    And honestly? that daycare system rocks.

  14. I actually take an "Aqua-Fit" class at our local YMCA WITH my grandmother. I'm 27. My Nanny is the most popular lady at the pool! AND she's one of the younger ladies! I love it!

  15. So funny! I went to one of these classes last summer after having my daughter. I too, was a good 50 years under the average age. The funniest thing was when the instructor celebrated birthdays. You had to do the number of reps for the birthday. I'm not kidding when I say that there were 3 birthdays that week. A 78 year old, a 73 year old, and my friend who was 38! All the people laughed at her when we did her 38 reps!

  16. Loved this post. Congrats for venturing into gym world again--sounds like you had a perfect reintroduction.

  17. Ahh, the Aqua-Fit is SO FUN! I love it, and I'm glad you enjoyed it too!!! (Though I had to miss my class last night because my husband worked late :( ) I also try to work out in the "regular" gym a bit, but even with the shiny new pink iPod shuffle my husband bought me, it just isn't the same as being in the water! LOL Keep it up - I think not only is it good for you physically, but mentally/emotionally too. *HUGS*

  18. I'm dying laughing because, I swear, I've been there. I'm 26 now, but the summer before I went off to college my parents & their best friends joined some tony country-club/gym combo. Five days a week I went & worked out with my Mom & her best friend - two days of cardio, and three days of each of us getting to pick a class. I ALWAYS picked water aerobics because it was a darn good workout & something different - but my Mom and her friend would moan and groan and whisper "Cocoon" comments at me during the whole class, as we were there with the Betty's & Phyllis's of the world.

    I was in *awesome* shape though. So whatever.

    (Also have you consider the Jillian Michael mean plan of the 30 Day Shred? Butt kicking -but AWESOME.)

  19. You are hilarious. :-)

  20. You are sure to be the validictorian of your class so ROCK IT SISTER!

    Before you know it you will be teaching the class and everyone will be jealous of your toned bod.

  21. I just started taking water aerobics a couple of weeks ago, and I was really skeptical. (I expected the old-lady thing.) But I love it! It's so fun, and i love that I can push myself as hard as I want to and not hurt myself. I'm getting a great workout, and so are Mildred and Myrtle and Dorcas and Vi (also not kidding) even though they more sort of float around and chat. Keep it up! We'll get all chloriney and pruny together!

  22. I have not laughed this hard outloud in a very long time! I SO want to joing your class so I, too, can have excellent blog material!

  23. I so want to join your gym and take that class! After all the bike accidents and falling down the stairs this sounds like it might be my speed as well.

  24. Ok, I'm reading along and understanding your apprehension, but otherwise wondering where you're headed and then BAM! the
    Cocoon" comment. I laughed so hard, tears came out of my eyes. You're too funny!

  25. I love this! I started taking water aerobics at my old gym thus summer - they only had an outdoor pool. Class was full of super-fun and friendly old folks, but I loved it and felt like I was getting a good work out. I really started to notice a difference in my arms and legs. So when the summer ended and that pool closed, I decided to join a gym with an indoor pool to keep it up. I joined 24 Fitness.

    Um, WOW. First time I went I thought, "Huh, where are the old people? Where are the FAT people? Uh-oh..." I'm telling you, I never worked out so hard in my life. Our instructor is a freaking drill seargant. She straight YELLS at us. But it's SO GOOD. And when she tells me I did great job, it feels so much better cause I know she's serious. This week I was only able to go once because I was so sore! I love water aerobics. The end.

  26. Two things: Love the diaper bag! and good for you for showing up!

  27. That bag is AMAZING. Must. Get. Bag.

    I have this cute (and by that I mean hideous) green and yellow diaper bag with Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet on it. It offends me in so many ways. It even offends Oscar.

    I had a c-section seven months ago and tried doing some sit-ups recently to flatten what will probably never be flat again Yeow! I think I need a physical therapist or personal trainer or something.

    Love your blog!

  28. Oh yay! I used to work at a community college pool in a small town which translates to the least expensive pool in the area. So we got the same sorts of characters. It was fantastic! I love all the oddities and mind blowing moments where you just have to stop and waggle your head and think "did that just really happen?". Start making up makes you giddy with excitement when they show up. We had a banana hammock fellow too who liked to do "warm up stretches in the lifeguard's faces. We called him "Package Man" and we even had a song for him to the tune of "Triangle Man" by They Might Be Giants.

    Love your writing!

  29. Oh dear. Does laughter count as a aerobic workout?

  30. That is hysterical!!!! Pleeeez keep going to this class, I want to read more about Doris, Phyllis and Betty!!

  31. Oh...well, I was going to tell you to hang in there and those people don't know you anyway and so what about the whole bathing suit thing.
    But..I'm going to have to join an aerobics class to help with the rhuematoid arthritis pain and stiffness. I tried walking today and let's say it was beyond fun. Now I'll have to cope with being the old lady in the pool.

    Your blog was very funny, though.

  32. Kristy! This class sounds like so much fun! I'm glad you are doing this, and I'm jealous! Okay, that was a lot of exclaimation points, but I'd love to attend a class just like yours.

  33. I LOVE your bag! Love it so much that I bought one last night (in Echino Woods, so beautiful!). Love your blog too. Maybe even more than the bag. :)


  34. I can totally relate - I too used to take the aqua fit class just because I loved being in the pool. The upside is - all those folks have been there and done that, so no one's ever going to care about how you're doing. I say, whatever it takes to stay healthy and get some free child care (or cheap) is worth it. Plus, think of all the blogging material a flesh colored banana hammock will give you!


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