Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
It’s not exactly what a friend of mine said when she complained about doing water aerobics, but I bet that’s what she thought, what she felt. Me too. Water aerobics? Are you kidding me? All that music? All those hopping around pretending to be coordinated? Ridiculous. It’s for fools, idiots, morons. My friend hiked the Appalachian Trail. She walks whole days in town. I am a swimmer. I do tricks. I can do the butterfly. I don’t do aerobics, on land or in the water. I do not play sports in a group.
Ah, well, life and injuries get in the way. The knees collapse, the backs weaken, mysterious problems ensue and disturb. The body changes. During this time our image of ourselves is rusting; sometimes we are the last to notice it.
“I used to swim with the masters program, you know,” I told the young and agile Jewish Educational Alliance aerobics instructor before slipping into the water. In case anyone cared, I had to set the record straight.
Later, after class, she would say to me: “You are too deep. “
Thinking she was referring to my deep sense of intellect and gray matter and a tendency to overthink, I nodded quietly. Probably, I think.
“You have to stand in shallower water. “
“Water aerobics is the best,” she replied, without asking the obvious question, “So why don’t you always swim with the masters if it was so great?” She was not impressed with my credentials but great at her sport. “You’ll see what I mean. “
I was skeptical. You cannot sweat in the water. No one can see how many reps you are doing, how many push-ups, how much weight you are lifting. No one can look over their stationary bike to see how long you can maintain a proper plank shape. No one can see anything; it’s all underwater (which is kind of the beauty of the activity; if you don’t like what the instructor says, you do your own thing). Plus, you’re so busy trying to follow directions, keeping your plastic weights underwater and styrofoam noodles from appearing and looking silly. There is no rest period in aquagym; there is no rest, no shavasana.
I became a believer. Now the class is so popular at JEA – where you have to register in advance as they limit the number of people in the pool due to COVID – I consider myself lucky to even enter.
Today I sulked, I sulked, when I heard it was full, a few minutes before someone showed up and I could grab their place.
Now I see aquagym lessons everywhere; most recently it was at the public pool in Daffin Park, the public park in the oft-overlooked Savannah neighborhood that still seems to play the second fiddle behind Forsyth Park.
I walked around Daffin, enjoyed the vast expanse of sky in the center, strolled under its beautiful alley shaded by oak trees in the middle. I watched football and rugby, wondered about lacrosse and wondered why there was no football program for young girls. I have never been there to swim.
I checked out the aqua aerobics class in the oddly raised swimming pool in the park. All the women. Same as the poster promoting the aerobics class in Daffin, except this image showed all white women. Really, City of Savannah? Is this the best you can do?
The other day at JEA, I asked the only man in the class how he felt about being the only man.
“It’s their loss,” he said of his compatriot. “I love it.”
Contact Jane Fishman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-484-3045. See more of Jane’s columns at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/.
• Daffin swimming pool: free; 6:15 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays until July 28; 1301 E. Victory promenade; 912-351-3844; savannahga.gov/3255/Water-Aerobics
• Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn Street; 912-355-8111; savannahjea.org/groupfitness