Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Full Range of Movements

I've learnt the hard way that Aqua Exercise is really the only slot in the schedule where I have half-decent odds of being the sleekest, fittest, most flexible kid in the class. On Monday I hit the jackpot.
"You new here?" The teacher is wearing a low-backed black swimsuit and legging combo that, were she in Bushwick, would easily pass for street clothes. And she can certainly rock it. Her figure would be excellent advert for the toning powers of low-impact, water-resistance exercise, except she never gets out of her Havanianas and into the pool with us.
"First time."
"But you've done this sort of thing before, right?" she checks, handing me my styrofoam weights.
I think back to the sessions in our local pool in Koshigaya, doing splashy jumping jacks to J-pop, shrug and smile.
I take my lane in between two plastic-domed old ladies and test out the weights. In the air they are faintly ridiculous: scaled-down versions of the sort of weights dodgy Victorian strongman might have painted black and puffed over theatrically. In the water they put up more of a fight. Twenty minutes in and my weedy arms are already complaining. But the tragic thing is I suspect I might be the only one hurting...
Geriatrics, it turns out, are a bunch of slackers. I've never seen so much cheating in a class, so many instances of blithe this'll-do-ing, such frequent stops to chat about brands of crackers and last night's TV. True to form, I'm the youngest by a good three or four decades.
I finish the class smug and sweat free (such is the joy of aqua exercise) but sadly the feeling doesn't last for long.
I'd forgotten my swim cap, and after a lot of back-and-forthing I'd persuaded one of the life guards to lend me his, provided that I wore it inside out. The problem was that when I got out of the pool I couldn't remember which regulation white towel was mine. Not wanting to invoke the ire of a pumped-up senior citizen I had little option but to go knock on the door of the pool office without one.
"Umm, Diego..."
The door opens and a quartet of lifeguards turn to look at me, trying to be all nonchalant in my dripping bikini and scalp-plastered hair.
"Ah. Oh. Thanks."
"No, thank you. Do you want me to rinse it?"
There's an awkward pause. He laughs, as if I've said something rude. Maybe I have in lifeguard slang.
"You know no-one's ever offered to do that before... Thanks."
I parrot another "thanks" and make a run for it up the stairs to the changing room, cheeks burning, arms aching, but still, Lord be praised, the right side of thirty.

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