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.
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?