In an effort to make friends and to lose my last 15 pounds of baby-weight, a few weeks ago I joined the YMCA. I am in the process of trying all the classes to find where I best fit in. My coordination is limited, at best, but I have always had really good stamina and flexibility. So today, I decided to take a ‘Low Impact Water Aerobics’ class.
Being February in the South, it is cold; fifty degrees or so. I packed my swimsuit into my gym bag and set off for the gym. Getting undressed in front of strangers is always a bit awkward, but I always muddle through by trying to decide whose boobs are ‘real’ and whose are ‘new.’ The ladies getting ready for this class seem very different from those I got naked with last week, before kickboxing. ALL of these ladies had ‘real’ boobs, whereas, the kick-boxers were more like, 50/50. One woman, actually, caught my eye and asked me if this was my first time in the water class. I admitted it was and shoved my stuff in a locker. She stood proudly in her bikini (with her real boobs) as I pulled out my sports-suit from my locker. She asked, rather intrusively (in my opinion), “What part of you are you working on?“ Since saying, “My soul," seemed a bit pretentious (and I do want to make friends), I pinched my bit of offending belly fat that was hanging over the waistband of my bike shorts. She said, “Me, too,” and grabbed her naked belly with both hands and gave it a good shake. It flapped up and smacked her in the face with a resounding, “Whump.” I turned around and quickly put on my swimming suit, giving her time to recover.
On my way to the pool, I met the instructor who said, “Most of the women in this class are more, shall we say, mature than you. But you should still find this class very rewarding.” She winked at me.
One by one the women gingerly stepped into the pool, pulling on swimming caps and discussing bridge games in honeyed southern drawls. My bikini wearing friend (seemingly recovered from her smack-down), jolted me out of my happy reverie of deciding which animal each matron most resembled and advised piously, “Make sure you try to keep up.” The instructor yelled for our attention and amid a cloud of powdered, humid, humanity I found a place towards the back of the pool.
The workout was enjoyable enough, full of languid stretching and gleeful kicks (all the while being careful not to splash the heavily made-up women around me.) We swam and twirled. We lifted barbells with weights reminiscent of Styrofoam coolers. After a while my mind wandered, I started planning my next workout, as my heart rate was still somewhere between ‘sleeping’ and ‘before morning coffee.’ “Okay, ladies? ARE YOU READY?,” our leader trilled with great enthusiasm. Twenty-five of my new elder friends shrieked back happily, “Yes!!” Hmmmm. Now that caught my attention. “ Put your weights up and grab a noodle.” Along the wall, resembling colorful sea worms, were what were presumably the aforementioned, noodles. Being the youngest in the crowd apparently designated me the chief go-getter. All of the women looked at me, until I hopped out and grabbed a rainbow of noodles. The pool was a sea of white spongy bejeweled hands all clamoring for my colorful noodles. I felt rather important.
My job finished, I hopped back in the pool with my yellow noodle. I looked over at the woman next to me (who was still wearing her pearls like a good Southerner) and couldn't see her noodle. It was gone. I didn't have long to ponder this as the instructor loudly yelled, “Ladies! Giddy-up! Now get ready to ride the horse! Yeeee haaaaaw.” I must have seemed a tad bemused as the pearled woman said, “Put it between your legs and sit back on it, honey,” I tried this and my legs kept flying forward and the back of my head would dunk in the water. Finally, I got myself stabilized and tried to pick up on what I missed. The instructor kept yelling “Left! Right! Pump your legs! Giddy-up ladies!” The ladies all around me were riding their horses/noodles like the best jockeys at the Kentucky Derby.
The voices in my head started shrieking, “Who sat on this yellow noodle before you, Amy?” and “Uh, let’s not do this… oh, my God. What was that? STOP!” I gave in and set my noodle on the side of the pool. I decided to mimic the noodle-riders, but without a noodle. I figured, being my first class and all, this would be overlooked. I may not know much, but I know when to listen to my voices. The woman to my left, grabbed her pearls and closed her eyes and the woman to my right let out a slight moan. I was torn between wanting to cry, needing a shower and deciding on what type of etiquette the situation called for. Good manners won out (as they always should) and I hopped along sans horse, and prayed for a quick ending to the class.
Finally, the ladies seemed to tire and the instructor asked if, “The young'un would put up the noodles.” The ladies seemed to be lacking energy at this point and I had to swim around and collect the noodles. I took the noodle from the stomach-flapping, bikini-wearing, face-slapper who I had met ages ago in the locker room, and she whispered smugly to me, “I knew you couldn't keep up."
I smiled benignly and delicately held her noodle, wishing for surgical gloves.
As soon as politely possible, I got out of the pool and grabbed my towel, prepared to skip the showers and run for home. The instructor blocked my way. “Well, will we see you tomorrow, gal?”, she asked knowingly. I blushed. And thought, “No way in hell will you see me tomorrow. You are a bunch of dirty old women. You Noodle-riders are beyond creepy and I am going home to bathe in Lysol.” But instead, I stammered in my usual nonsensical way, “Well, um, you see…” I searched for any way to politely decline my attendance in tomorrow’s horse-riding, love-fest. What I said was, “Um, you see…I am a Christian…and I’m married…you know.” Luckily, she was called away by a woman who didn't have enough energy left to climb out of the pool.
I am currently rethinking tomorrow's Pump It Up class.