I am not an athlete. Never have been, most likely never will be. PE was my least favorite class in both junior high and high school. I dreaded those presidential physical fitness awards we were forced to endure each year. I was never able to throw a softball the required distance (far, far from it). I couldn’t run fast enough. I couldn’t do sit-ups very well. Flat out — I was a pretty poor specimen of physical ability, grace and stamina. I accepted my lot in life and never agonized for very long (if at all) at how much I sucked at anything athletic.

Fast forward to my courtship with Bill. He was a star athlete and is good at almost anything sports-related. Because he loves golf I was determined to try, to really TRY to learn. And a funny thing happened along the way. I discovered that when I gave a good, solid effort and listened to my husband’s instructions on how to hold the club, how to swing the club, how to put, how to chip, how to play — when I really tried — I was occasionally rewarded with a decent shot. Not every time of course (golf is frustratingly like that) but enough to make me want to keep at it.

This was a revelation to me. I’ll never be a gifted athlete but to realize that I can participate in a sport, in some kind of physical activity and get something in return for my effort — well, if not life-changing this was pretty darn close.

I recently joined Lifetime Fitness, primarily to take up swimming – again. I reluctantly add the word ‘again’ since I don’t wish to mislead anyone into thinking that I vigorously applied myself to this activity when I was younger. Not true. I enjoyed swimming and going to the pool when I was a kid but as with anything sports-related I never really applied myself. Being a little older and maybe a little wiser I now find myself wanting to try. I swim the 25-yard length of the pool, stop at the wall, and my heart is pounding in my chest. But, strangely, it feels good. Gliding through the water feels amazing. And I keep going. I’m actually applying myself. I’m on the cusp of doing something ATHLETIC. It’s powerful stuff and when Bill picks me up afterwards I’m actually a little giddy.

I’ll never be an athlete but maybe, just maybe I’ll enjoy the effort it takes to work at being one now. And I think that’s pretty neat.

OK.  I’ve alluded to this before in another post and it’s only DAY ONE.  However….

This is it.  I’m pumped, I’m motivated, I’m going to do it this time!

I joined Lifetime Fitness today and swam laps for the first time in just ages.  It felt incredible!  When we were kids the six of us girls were regulars almost everyday at our local pool and we loved it.  So swimming this afternoon brought back a flood of good memories of those sun-drenched days!

The facility is just a few months old and it is simply amazing.  There are two laps pools, an open swim area for the little ones and a huge outdoor pool.  I swam that first lap and my heart was racing.  I’m small and petite but apparently quite out of shape!  I’m already formulating fitness goals vis a vis swimming targets to help me firm and tone this old bod of mine.  (Goal # 1:  Complete one lap without having to rest!)

The saunas (both dry heat and steam) are sweet and so is the hot tub — all of which are located in the women’s locker room.  (Assume the men’s locker room is similarly appointed — I didn’t check!)  Hot tubs are also situated poolside both indoors and out.  The outdoor pool is surrounded by dozens and dozens of chaise lounges for sunbathing. The locker rooms boast beautiful wood-grain lockers and there is a steady supply of fresh towels, toiletries and hair dryers. 

I’m excited about taking advantage of my new membership: the lap lanes, the saunas and hot tubs, the wide assortment of exercise equipment and a variety of free classes.  Another bonus will be meeting new, fitness-minded friends.  Maybe I’ll even convince my husband to join as well!

I grew up living ‘in the country’ and had no one to play with or pal around with other than my five sisters. We had none of what seemingly passes as today’s have to haves: no cable TV, no cell phones, no internet. The television programs we watched were always in black and white until I was in high school when Dad finally sprung for a color TV. With six girls underfoot and my dad’s hired help to feed Mom had neither the resources nor the inclination to drive us into town to participate in summer or after-school activities. We were pretty much left to our own devices and I don’t recall that we were ever really bored.

The only exception, around the time I was in junior high, was when we talked Mom into buying a season ticket at the swimming pool in town. For just $25 our entire family had access to the pool all summer long. Mom and Dad certainly got their money’s worth. We lived at the pool! In later years Mom confessed that it was as much for her own sanity and a little peace and quiet as it was for our enjoyment. As soon as the dinner dishes were washed and dried Mom drove us in to town when the pool opened at 1:00. How I loved the smell of the chlorine and the way the blue water shimmered in the sun. It was an opportunity to see our friends and make new ones as well.

I have many fond memories of those carefree afternoons: swimming underwater the full length of the pool – and back – all in one breath, jumping in the water to retrieve our locker keys, teasing (and being teased by) the lifeguards, sunbathing and jumping off the diving boards. Now, this last one was a huge accomplishment for me. Mom signed up us six girls for swim lessons at the same time. I was in the seventh grade then and still recall the humiliation of starting out in the baby pool with all the other students. Some of my classmates were lifeguards at the pool and it was embarrassing, to say the least, knowing they were watching me learning to swim with toddlers and elementary school kids. My younger sisters, especially, had a huge advantage. They were fearless and took to the water without hesitation. Before long they were jumping off the diving boards, first the low board and then the high dive. All of them except for me. I wanted to so badly but was terrified.

While I was truly scared of jumping off the boards into that deep section of the pool, if I’m honest, the thing that really held me back was knowing my classmates who were almost always on duty there would be witness to my failure if I had to back down. I don’t know what ultimately compelled me to do so but the day arrived when I finally jumped off the low board and it was exhilarating! I was thrilled and beyond pleased that I was able to do this. Eventually I mastered my fears and jumped from the high dive as well. Now I was a member of that elite club of pool patrons who had the opportunity to find themselves ‘stuck’ on the high dive when they announced the pool check at the top of each hour. Everyone tried to time it just right – often dawdling, taking their sweet time climbing the ladder – so that when ‘Pool Check –Everybody Out’ was called on the loudspeaker you were the lucky one at the top. It was pretty heady stuff and all six of us Clark girls loved it.

When my sisters and I started our own families two of us bought season tickets for our kids so they could spend their summers at the swimming pool just as we had. To our surprise (and disappointment) they became quickly bored and never seemed to enjoy it the way the six of us girls did. No matter. Those summer afternoons we spent splashing and swimming and jumping into those glorious waters at the pool are forever etched in my mind. Thinking back on those days always makes me smile. It’s truly a wonderful memory.