As things began to shut down due to the pandemic, it became clear to me that I would not be getting my money’s worth from the gym membership that I had not been getting my money’s worth out of for two years. The previous two years was entirely my fault; the pandemic was not. But if you’ve ever tried to cancel a gym membership, imagine trying to do it during the early stages of indefinite “lock-down,” when the doors are locked and no one seems to be minding the store.
It was painful, but I got it done. And put on about 10 pounds of stress-eating comfort food. Newly retired, I had the luxury of being able to sleep in, but the desire to do it was less. My stress levels dropped to nothing. The desire to dawdle over coffee and social media was strong, though. No exercise, no travel, plenty of quality time on the couch – that’ll do things to you. I did not hire a personal trainer remotely. Probably should have.
Last week, I felt my resolve returning. I joined the YMCA. I hadn’t joined while I was working, because their hours don’t run late enough and I knew I’d get even less of my money’s worth there than I would at the overpriced gym I wasn’t going to. But now, the daily commute is a distant memory, and I’m enjoying being able to do things during the day, when it’s less crowded. The YMCA is a good deal, at about half the cost of the gym membership. The one nearest me was practically rebuilt and outfitted with state of the art equipment after drowning itself in the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey. It is clean, it is gorgeous…it has a POOL. Two pools! One indoors, one outside. Hey, that matters, with temperatures climbing into the 90s by 10 AM.
I know me, though. Left to my own devices, I’d be reading by the poolside all summer, dipping a toe in now and then to cool off, doing nothing about the dwindling strength and stamina from a year of couch-potato-ing. And so I made a reservation for a swim lane. 8 AM on a Saturday morning. Yikes. That meant leaving the house before coffee (almost).
It was glorious. The water was just the right temperature – not so cold that the nerves encircling my waist caused me to levitate, impossibly, above the surface while squealing like a mouse; not so warm that I felt like I was sweating 5 laps in. I only managed 15 minutes of serious, non-stop lap swimming, but it’s a start. I left feeling energized, breathing deeply, and deeply relaxed.
I logged it manually, after calculating how many yards I swam. Garmin said I burned almost 300 calories. I’m not sure if I believe that, but I’ll pretend that I do – it’s a motivator! In fact, I committed to doing this at least three times a week. I used to practically sleep through 100 laps; now 7 (50 yards each) feels like work. But it’s good work.
Speaking of Garmin, I’ve switched from Fitbit to the Garmin vivoactive 4s:
That’s an affiliate link, by the way. Again, mostly for convenience’s sake: yours and mine. I had hung onto my Fitbit, and was enjoying challenges with friends, until one day, my stats started looking way too impressive – Fitbit gave me some massive award and friends started saying, “Wow!” and I looked to see what was up. Lo, and behold: Fitbit claimed I’d walked something like 40 miles in a single day! Woo hoo!
Jesus. Talk about your participation trophies. Folks, I hadn’t walked 2000 steps, that day. I don’t know what was wrong with Fitbit, but I couldn’t edit and delete that and no way could I let anyone think I was walking 40 miles in a single day. They know better. And I’m not down with cheating the system like that, so that system had to go. This wasn’t the first time – a few years ago, we toured an old battleship and Fitbit claimed I’d climbed something like 80 flights of stairs. I mean, I’d gone up and down the decks a few times, but that was ridiculous.
Anyway, the worst thing Garmin’s done to me so far is make it look like I’m not breathing. Its pulse ox readings are little low (alarmingly, if believed – but I’ve compared at the doctor’s office). At least it is consistently low, so if I just add 6 to whatever the number is, it comes out right. And Garmin gives me cute little maps of the places I’ve walked, along with how fast or how leisurely the stroll was.
I felt so good after that swim that I signed up for a water aerobics class. I got back around 9:15 AM, took a shower, and I’m now struggling to stay awake, I’m so relaxed. And look at this:
I didn’t believe that calorie burn, so I looked it up – according to Google, water aerobics does actually burn that many calories (I added a few laps to the cool-down, but nothing athletic). It doesn’t feel the same when you’re not red-faced, white around the mouth, and sweating so hard your clothes are as wet as if you jumped into the pool fully dressed. I could get definitely get used to this. By the end of the summer, I’m joining the synchronized line-dance team.
After all of this wonderful, full-body exercise, I was high on the endorphin rush. Too relaxed and limp to move. I am ashamed to admit that I spent much of the rest of the day surfing – the Internet, of course. But, Piscean creature that I am, my favorite post of the day was this one, on LinkedIn:
Oh, to be a sea lion, even for a moment. Jump into the pool and close your eyes…