Monday, June 05, 2006

Screw the Gym; I'll swim!

Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with writing.

I have always had problems with gyms, making it very difficult for me to keep going to them, even when actual hard-earned money is being actively deducted from my checking account every month. For one, they are generally joyless, mechanical places. This is a direct product of the fact that there is no nature in a gym, save for two unique species of animals I find there: the wooly male beasts huffing and primping in front of mirrors with muscles so enormous they seem good for only one thing—destruction, and the long-legged, large busted gazelle like females who move gracefully yet aloof, never to cast so much as a glance at the wooly beasts who try so hard.

Then there’s the rest of us. But at the gyms I’ve attended “the rest of us” is usually me and the pregnant woman. Or me and the recovering-from-a-stroke old guy who can barely stay seated on the recumbent bicycle. I’ve wondered for a long time where the real people go to exercise.

Then I started swimming. The real people swim! This is because they understand the beauty of buoyancy. The unparalleled feel of water beneath you and open sky above you. Sure, we may be more prone to skin cancer and chlorine poisoning, but in the pool, we are free. Our limbs are unencumbered by any piece of equipment than ends in the suffix “ex” or “tron.” We need not run like rats on a wheel. We can splash and giggle and dive and back-stroke if we please.

And we have bodies. Real bodies. Neither paid for nor perfected. True thighs, the kind that gave Caravaggio wet dreams and without which Boticelli would have been a very sad man. I have always been self-conscious of the fact that I am an easy bruiser. But guess what? At the pool I see similarly mottled knees and angry elbows. When we ladies are in the changing room, none of us are checking each other out to see whose breasts are firmer—I promise you there are very few firm breasts among us. The pool is where women go when they have just had babies and when they’re ready to take care of themselves again and when the driving pressure of the gym, parallels the nasty pressure of the workplace, is just too soul-sucking.

It’s amazing how different the world seems without all the weight-bearing troubles of gravity. And you know, in the pool, I can’t strap on an ipod or stare at Oprah while I drool on the elliptical machine. In the pool I can only hear the sound of my own breathing and the lashing of waves against the lane-dividers. It’s quiet inside my head when I swim.

Oh don’t get me wrong. I’ll go back to the gym (with the same attitude as I take my fiber). When it’s raining. But right now it’s nearly summer and all around me green-topped golden hills are beckoning, and the water is just too nice to stay inside.


At 3:16 PM, Blogger down_not_out said...

Oh, yeah!!!

The pool is a wonderful place, eh?

I'm glad you're going and looking forward to more stories about it.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Samus said...

Six weeks after I gave birth, I was back to kickboxing. But while I was pregnant, the pool was a beautiful thing. It was the only time my joints felt normal.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Rhi: it is wonderful. More so every day.

Samus: The idea of kickboxing terrifies me! I hate to get hurt. Which makes swimming a perfect sport for me.


At 1:55 AM, Blogger Samus said...

It terrifies me, too! Which is why it's perfect for me at this terrifying time in my life. ;)

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Samus: Well, that makes a weird kind of logic, I think. It reminds me of taking self-defense class--i mean, the class is great, but it's emotionally and physically're sort of a wreck the whole time you're doing it, untilt the end. And I can confidently say that I never worry about being attacked or changed my attitude in the world.


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