Molly Fisk: Summer Fun

2602685474_874698c9ef_zPhoto by Flickr user Scott Ableman. (Creative Commons License)

Have you ever gone to water aerobics? This is just what it sounds like: an exercise class that raises your heart rate, held in a swimming pool. It’s perceived to be for older people, particularly older women, whose joints maybe can’t handle a hard workout on a gym floor. And it’s true, the class I go to has 10 or 12 women over 60 in it. But it also has 5 or 6 women under 60, and 2 or 3 men. It may be easier on the joints than other, land-based classes, but it doesn’t have to be easy. You can make it as hard as you like. I come out of that blue water pretty tired, and after a month I can see my shoulder muscles again.

But the reason to go to water aerobics is not the exercise, nor even the cool water on a scorching day. It’s not the dark green pines and cedars that gradually give their shade to the evening participants. The reason to go is because it’s hilarious, and laughing is so good for us.

At 6:00 p.m., all the small humans get herded out of the pool, dried off, and escorted home for dinner. The decibel level is reduced by half, even though 20 somewhat raucous adults are now walking rib-deep through the water, first “like Barbie” (on our tiptoes) and then “like Ken” (on our heels). As the hour progresses, we jog, cross-country ski, do myriad versions of jumping jacks, and pick invisible peaches with one hand while putting them in a metaphoric basket with the other and simultaneously kicking our own bottoms with our feet. We take styrofoam barbells into deep water and scissor, flutter, and frog kick while emulating a pendulum.

We do crunches and stretch our obliques (whatever they are) while attempting not to drown. We perform amazing feats using only a so-called “noodle,” bicycling around the deep end like demented mermaids. It’s so completely ridiculous, and our leader is so enthusiastic that the time flies by — just when your sides are truly sore from too much laughter, it’s over.

Then there’s a little cool-down stretching back in the shallow end, and we disperse across town into our own lives, energized and used up in equal measure, full of camaraderie and delirium.

I usually end up at the grocery store — having forgotten to buy cat food, again —not dripping exactly, but my hair riotous and my dress damp over the bathing suit. Ordinarily, this would be embarrassing, but I have so many endolphins coursing through my bloodstream I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, I’m just glad to be alive.

I want you to be glad to be alive, too. Life is hard and getting harder. Next time you don’t know what to do with yourself, find a public pool. Don’t worry about the exercise part, even though it’s good for you. What you’re looking for is buoyancy: an hour of non-stop giggles in the water.


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  • John Webb August 1, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Molly: Trish & I need to return-maybe soon.
    we were in the evening class with you last year !

  • Leslie in Oregon July 30, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I’m glad that your water aerobics class is held in both shallow and deep water…each offers something for the best workout. I’m a life-long swimmer who started doing water aerobics classes to supplement my lap and open water swimming and Pilates classes. Most of my class is in deep water, and it is quite challenging… especially if one does not wear a float. Challenging enough that we cannot talk through it, but we can chortle. It has become my favorite form of group exercise.

  • Molly Fisk July 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    The “endolphins” credit goes to Carrie Fischer I’m pretty sure… It’s a line from the screenplay of Postcards from the Edge, and gets spoken by a not-yet-famous Annette Bening as she passes through a scene talking to a friend, just to illustrate the daffiness of Californians, I’m afraid.


  • Lisa July 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Endolphins — brilliant! That’s exactly what we all need in these challenging times: a good dose of buoyancy and endolphins.

  • Shirley July 30, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Molly, Sign me up. That is, after I buy a new bathing suit.:-)