Plan twice, shoot once.

The Pool Walker’s Creed

By Piper Bayard

Long ago, Holmes and I discussed the fact that we’re no good to each other dead. As we age, we have to work a little harder at that not getting dead thing than we used to. So we agreed that our bare minimum fitness requirements demand that we walk at least one mile every day. For Holmes, that translates into a 12-mile vertical hike. For me, that translates into . . . walking at least one mile a day.

I don’t talk much about my health issues. Hell, they bore me. I can’t imagine that they would interest you. But as it’s relevant, I will share that I have moderate arthritis in my hip and back. “Moderate” means enough to hurt all the time, but not enough to take any permanent surgical measures. It also means that I am genuinely in the “move it or lose it” stage of life, and sometimes, walking my mile is an agony. As a result, I have become that which I used to dread. A pool walker.


Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.


The gyms I go to always seem to have those windows in the workout room that look out over the pool. I can’t pretend to know what everyone thinks when they’re climbing their mountains on their stair steppers and ellipticals, but I was once guilty of gazing out at that pool and thinking, “I’m working hard to put off the day when I, too, will be a heavy-set blue hair who can do no more than walk around the lazy river.” Ah, the vanity of ignorant youth!

Then came injuries and age, and I found out first hand that deterioration comes to us all. We can only hope that we live in such a way that character and wisdom balance us when we lose the ability to Salsa all night in high heels.

Fancying myself to be someone who always does what she must, I swallowed my pride, put on my mom-style swimsuit, and went to a pool walker class. What I found was that it stretched muscles I never knew I had. It left me sore in a good way, and nothing genuinely hurt the way it had for so long.  I also found that those heavy set blue hairs kicked my butt. They have to have some serious balance and poise to do all of their calisthenics against the current. Shame on me for ever thinking pool walking was somehow a lesser fate.

I hate swimming. I hate swimming pools. I hate what swimming pools do to my skin and my hair. . . . No one sets out in life to be a pool walker. No one. We are all there because it is what we have to do to stay active, alive, and useful to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So for myself, my family, and my writing partner, I take the Pool Walker’s Creed:

I will never quit. I will brave every child-ridden kiddie pool, every rude teen queen in a bikini, and every derisive glance from the young studs who are trying to impress the teen queens in bikinis. I will forge every toppling current in every lazy river if that is what it takes to avoid unnecessary pill-popping, surgeries, and deterioration, so that I will stay as strong as possible for my family, my friends, my partner, and myself. Because the only thing worse than working out, is not being able to.

What have you done to survive that you never thought you would do?

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25 thoughts on “ The Pool Walker’s Creed

  1. on ,
    EllieAnn said:

    Before I became a mom I knew absolutely everything about how to be a good mom. Don’t let them watch too much TV, feed them really healthy foods all the time, strict bedtime, yada yada….yeah. Once I became a mom I threw my dumb philosophies out the window and just did my best. Definitely need to do that to survive.

    • LOL. I was the same way. I still had a few pretentions after the the first one, but after number two? Forget it. My standards lowered to, “If they can afford their own therapists some day, then I haven’t done everything wrong.” Thanks for sharing. That’s a good one!

  2. I hate swimming pools for all the reasons you mention but your post may get me into the pool. I have osteoarthritis throughout my body so I know use or lose it. For me, it is meditation and yoga every morning as both help me more than the surgeries or prescriptions. Right now, walking is an issue but I am figuring it out. However, there is this: I have learned to communicate with my body in a way I never knew. It is as I have a better sense of how to help my body. Not all days are great nor are they bad.

    Great post and good for you, Piper!

    • Thanks, Karen. Yoga is one of the few things I will actually recommend to people as life changing. That being said, I haven’t done it in years. Maybe your post will get me back to yoga class. . . . Tell you what. Let’s keep in touch on this. If you swim, I’ll go to yoga. (Did I really just say that?) *sigh* At least yoga isn’t in a swimming pool. 🙂

      • Yes, let’s do keep in touch on this but not to worry about the yoga. I have memorized a Peggy Cappy DVD (Yoga for People with Arthritis) and created my own yoga flow. It is very gentle and if you already know yoga, may not be enough for you. My joints puff up at the least exertion, sometimes just walking itself. Decades of disease, as you know, yet I still may get to the pool. I’ll let you know.

  3. I wouldn’t want to go back to being my younger self even though within the last hour I read a blog by a twenty-something describing a woman “on the wrong side of 50” and I realized, oh good god, that now describes me. I also received three emails for dentures in my spam folder, but hey, we keep doing what we need to do even though it seems to be getting harder than it used to be. 🙂 Hope the pool walking helps your arthritis. Wear that mom-style swimsuit with pride!

    • LOL. Thanks so much, K.S. And as far as I’m concerned, there is no “wrong” side of 50. Any body that makes it past 50 gets a gold star. Maybe that blogger will get their gold star some day. Maybe they won’t. But by 50, they’ll be singing a different tune, for sure.

  4. Great post, Piper. And you’re absolutely right. Not facing arthritis problems–yet–but my sister is and I’ve sent her this link. But I’m also taking heed of her warnings and I’ve begun my path, although mine involves a shorter walk, some weights, plus a Nordic Track and lots of movies to watch a half-hour at a time. 😉

    • LOL. I get the half hour movie thing. I’ve also done that one at the gym.

      Regarding arthritis, this is my two cents. Beef, wheat, sugar, and dairy exacerbate the problem. I’ve found that avoiding dairy and wheat altogether is incredibly good at staving off the bad days. Beef and sugar in moderately low quantities makes a big difference, too.

      Good luck! I’ll meet you in the pool some day. 🙂

  5. on ,
    karenmcfarland said:

    As a little girl, I loved swimming. I was a water rat. You couldn’t get me out of a pool. But now, ewe. Not my favorite thing, besides all the chlorine. But, I’m impressed with the pool walking. It sounds like an awesome low impact exercise. I’m sure you felt all those muscles and then some. May the force be with you Piper! 🙂

  6. Thanks for writing this, Piper. You’ve encouraged me to take the Pool Walker’s Creed as well. I moved to an apartment complex with a pool, and I was eager to get in there to walk and get relief for my hip, foot, and knee issues. This is a college town, and a majority of the complex’s residents are age 30 and under. I got those ‘looks’ from the tanned, skinny, bikini-clad younger set, and since I am none of those things, I had talked myself into not going back. Why should I let someone else’s attitude keep me from feeling the best I can? I’m going back.

    Pool Walkers Unite! 🙂

    • You go, girl! Think of them as irrelevant social media trolls — shallow, vain, self-important wind bags — and then paste a mirror at the bottom of the deep end of that pool so they have a place to admire themselves that will insure they are no longer a problem for you after about five minutes. 🙂

  7. Given your love of all products tactical, I thought you might enjoy this guy’s tactical yarn. Maybe he can knit you some post-pool Kevlar loungewear?

  8. Good on you! I’ve had to do various things over the years to stay alive. You do what you have to.

    Apropos arthritis, on my own experience of a related issue I believe dropping carbs, sugar and processed foods helps enormously. It’s all about de-tuning immune system reactivity. Yoga is definitely very good. My mother was an instructor for 25 years – ended up teaching the teachers before retiring. I could definitely see the benefits. Never did it myself, of course – you know, it’s not cool to follow your mum’s lead… 🙂

    • LOL. So my children tell me. 🙂

      Good point about the carbs, sugar, and processed foods. I’ve been on a meat/veggie plan with almost no carbs or sugar for different reasons, and I’ve noticed I feel tremendously better. That so sucks! I mean, it would be so much nicer if there was no connection, and I could binge daily on chocolate covered marshmallows. But like you said, you do what you have to.

      • We’re doing exactly the same in our household! I said I’d join She Who Must Be Obeyed…and then discovered beer is filled with carbs. Definitely sucks. But the health benefits are very clear. I’m gonna blog on it as soon as I’m out from under with my writing frenzy (was meant to finish in April, but it’s taken way longer & and this very weekend I’ve got publisher proofs for two books sitting on my desk, both on ultra-urgent deadline. Ouch.)

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