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The Reluctant Adventurer: Water Aerobics

Friday, December 26, 2014


Say what you will about Cathy Guisewhite, but she was right about trying on bathing suits.

It’s physically awkward and demoralizing and somehow, if the lighting bounces off your ass dimples just right, it can make you question every choice you’ve made leading up to this point.

“Why didn’t I keep playing tennis?,” you ask yourself while curled up in the fetal position on the dressing room bench. “Athletes have discipline and know how to work on a team. And I’ve never been a team player…because I threw up running laps in 7th grade so I just quit, like I quit everything that’s the least bit difficult.” 

“You okay in there?,” asks the salesperson. “You need another size?”


Eventually, you have to leave the dressing room with the only suit that worked: a one-piece with a grandma-skirt to hide the tops of your thighs.

That’s the suit I wore to the Aquafit class at L.A. Fitness.

I fit in perfectly. 

Aquafit is a water aerobics class for people who have difficulty doing exercises that are jarring to the joints. 

And yes, if you’re screwing up your face into a derisive scowl and saying, “You took an exercise class aimed at senior citizens for a column about ADVENTURES?,” you’re right. It makes me appear a little wussy. 

For most, a water aerobics class is a walk the park…a very wet, chlorinated park.


I had to wear a bathing suit. In public.

It was terrible. 

I know I should just be grateful to my thighs for holding me up for over 40 years, and I’m not angry with them as much as I’m angry with myself for what I’ve done to them. 

I spent most of my adult life eating exactly what I wanted and exercising exactly as much as I wanted, which was only slightly more often than never. 

And all I have to do to trigger a shame spiral is to be forced to show the result of that action and inaction in a public place.

That being said, the great thing about a water aerobics class for someone in her 40’s is that no matter what she’s allowed to happen to her body, in comparison to the rest of the folks in the class, her skin is soft and supple, and her breasts are perky and pillow-like. 

As I lowered myself into the pool, I looked around and noticed that I was the youngest person in the class by about 20 years. I have just recently gotten to the point where I feel self-conscious about my advancing age in rock clubs, so this “I’m too young for this shit” feeling was a welcome change.

In that way, Aquafit pools are a lot like the pool in “Cocoon.” Just get in, and you suddenly feel young and vigorous.

The teacher stands at the edge of the pool and demonstrates the moves. Most of them involve running and punching and kicking, which, when it happens in water, now involves a great deal of resistance.  

But since it’s resistance in the form of clear, blue, refreshing water, it’s about a million times more pleasant than an aerobics class on dry land, which involves sweat and wheezing and jarring, complicated choreography wherein young skinny bitches in lycra with their whole exercise lives ahead of them jump higher than you ever could because they live on a cloud made of kale smoothies and completed to-do lists.

I might be projecting there.

At one point, our aqua moves involved running our hands through the water, one after the other in a sweeping, Mr.-Miyagi motion. 

Watching my hands move right under the surface and seeing the small waves they made became almost meditative. It’s nice to start your day seeing a physical manifestation of yourself exerting force in the world. I can’t make myself stop seeing an entire bag of Pop Chips as a “small snack,” but I can displace water molecules like a motherf*cking champ.

And in all seriousness, there’s something powerful and poetic about preparing for your day by running through water.  Once you’ve spent an hour pushing through 14.6 pounds per square inch of pressure on your body, moving through air is a cinch.

Bring it, world. I worked out with senior citizens this morning.

My biggest complaint about the class is exactly what you might expect: as pleasant as it was, it’s not quite enough of a workout for someone who hasn’t had a hip replaced.

That being said, I actually got my best workout of the day in the locker room after I showered. I was in a hurry, so I was still wet when I put my sports bra on. Or, I should say, when I attempted to put my sports bra on. 

Between my wet skin and the unforgiving nature of lycra, I spent five terrifying, squirmy minutes trapped in a stretchy black prison from which there appeared to be no escape. At one point, with the bra constricting both arms in a flailing position above my head, I actually became claustrophobic enough that I almost asked a stranger for help. 

Thankfully, I was able to flail my left arm far enough over to the right side to pull the bra down past my armpit and drag my right breast, kicking and screaming, into its new spandex home. The rest was gravy. 

So I guess my biggest lesson from Aquafit? Dry yourself off properly after you shower, dummy.

Aquafit at LA Fitness

Various locations


RECOMMENDED FOR: People with Zumba injuries, those without body shame, Wilford Brimley.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: People who need a big, sweaty workout that burns a ton of calories. Not gonna happen.

Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer. 


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