I didn’t want to go to the gym. I didn’t want to workout. I just finished with the Guatemala group, and I thought, I could go home, cook dinner, watch an episode of Leverage, and write and read. But I’m fat and I don’t want to take health meds, so I went to the gym.
There was only one guy in the pool. There were eight women in the pool. Old women, probably in their upper forties to mid fifties. They were doing aquatic aerobics. It looked like tae bo, but you could only tell from the instructor. Everyone else you just saw their heads bobbing up and down.
I jump in, sort of excited because the music was good and I still got my own lane. There were only two open, but hey, there were only two of us. The rest likely read that there was an aquatics class at the time. Wiser men than I.
I figure 750m, because I’m trying to get my rhythm back. I’ve been in the water since Monday, so it was the fourth day after a week away due to the pool being closed.
The breast stroke is my go to. I went in, stretched, admired the vigor of a bunch of old ladies doing something underwater to loud music, and took off. Slowly. Each attempt to kick, every time I extended out and pulled my arms back to propel myself, I felt like I was going nowhere. The tiles below didn’t move. When I could usually glide through the water, now I struggled as if sloshing through mud. As if swimming through molasses.
I was startled. Was I dying in this moment, were my muscles more tired than they were willing to gripe? Was my head just not in it?
I felt myself shift left to right, a current pulling at me. The women. With their vigor, it created a wave pool that was fighting against my every motion. I did freestyle for a while, and every time I came up for breath was a struggle, as small waves were created and I couldn’t just pop up seamlessly.
While there were two of us in the lanes, another guy hopped in mine when I reverted back to breast stroke. I never understand this. I never understand why people seem to like joining my lane. But there he was. The last two times were gorgeous women. This was a little chunkier of a guy, without all the right equipment. Who goes swimming seriously without goggles? Anyway, can’t win them all.
As I continued to struggle, he left from the exertion, and I reached 650m. That was it. The final 100m would only come if I was willing to risk drowning. While I wished to clear my mind, while I strove to remain in the water as long as possible to drown out all the thoughts bubbling inside me, it wasn’t going to happen. I would have to find a new outlet.
I resigned to the waves, to the motion in our concrete ocean, and exited the pool, sore, exhausted, and gasping for air.
What do you do to clear your mind? What helps you focus? What workout stories do you have?