Monday, May 21, 2012

I dislike water aerobics (and "gentle" exercise in general)

giant rubber ducky floating in a city harbor
Giant rubber ducky!
I'm trying to give water aerobics the "good college try" but I'm not sure that it's really working out.  Part of my resistance to it initially was that it was in the list of common things people suggest when you have a "bad back" (by the way, it's not bad, it's broken).  Since my city has this awesome new aquatics center (with a fifty meter competition pool, a twenty-five meter heated therapy pool, and a diving well), I wanted to give it a fair try.  Hey, if it has the potential of being awesome, the big fancy pool will make it more awesome, right?  It was a good starting point at least!

Anyhow, I've been trying water aerobics about twice a week for the past three weeks.  I'm finding that I can't do any bouncing movements because it causes my spine to bounce up and down (so no water running for me).  I'm having to modify quite a few moves that are "gentle on joints" just because of the nature of my impairment..something I'm usually ok with, but it's more uncomfortable in a class situation.  People that don't know my situation think I'm modifying because of my weight and a presupposed level of fitness, which is just annoying (the fantastic Ragen Chastain at Dances With Fat talks about the myth that most fat people are sedentary).  These people don't know the me that used to do CrossFit and could back squat at least 170 pounds, bench 130 for 5 sets of 5 reps, or did "Grace" at 135 lbs (a CrossFit workout that consists of 30 clean & jerks for time...the video I've posted below shows Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth doing a traditional clean & jerk).

I've found that shallow water aerobics at my local aquatic center is either painful (because of bouncing movements) or boring (because most of the more challenging or aerobic movements are bouncy), combined with a lack of music to accompany the class.  Additionally, the class doesn't even have its own section of the pool, which means we're bobbing and weaving around the mass of kids either playing around or taking swim lessons (and I have to admit, pool acoustics plus screaming children really make a bad pain day worse).  The kids also use the ramp and stairs as play areas, so it's hard to just get in the pool safely, especially on a day where I'm having trouble walking.

The deep water class has been better, but I know that most of that is because the instructor is allowed to play music during the class, and since I've been both a musician and dancer in my life, music makes most everything at least tolerable.  I still have to be very careful because overly flexible spine means I can pretty easily hurt myself in the water.  I find it really frustrating to have to be so careful, especially since I used to do some pretty wild physical things (like CrossFit and like clocking about 40mph on my racing bike).  Thankfully, the other class participants are awesome, light-hearted, and completely welcoming.

The main bad part to the deep water class is the time:  6:30am.  For those that know me in real life, they know that I'm almost the antithesis of a morning person.  I'm that person that would rather work third shift than get up before 8am.  My now live-in SO is almost worse than me, but that's more of a difference in employment.  I've only gone to two of the deep water classes because of this, but I'm trying to make a concerted effort to at least go often enough that I could make up my own routines when I buy a waterproof mp3 player, an aqua fitness belt, and water dumbbells (an expensive financial investment, especially with the mp3 player).

We'll see how this goes.  I've been pretty mopey about working out lately because I haven't found the right activity that gives me the endorphin rush I used to get.  I'm trying to find the sweet spot between fun, challenging, and doesn't cause me pain or nerve problems.  So far, no luck...but the adventure continues.

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