The Pool Walker’s Creed

By Piper Bayard

Long ago, Holmes and I discussed the fact that we’re no good to each other dead. As we age, we have to work a little harder at that not getting dead thing than we used to. So we agreed that our bare minimum fitness requirements demand that we walk at least one mile every day. For Holmes, that translates into a 12-mile vertical hike. For me, that translates into . . . walking at least one mile a day.

I don’t talk much about my health issues. Hell, they bore me. I can’t imagine that they would interest you. But as it’s relevant, I will share that I have moderate arthritis in my hip and back. “Moderate” means enough to hurt all the time, but not enough to take any permanent surgical measures. It also means that I am genuinely in the “move it or lose it” stage of life, and sometimes, walking my mile is an agony. As a result, I have become that which I used to dread. A pool walker.

 

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

 

The gyms I go to always seem to have those windows in the workout room that look out over the pool. I can’t pretend to know what everyone thinks when they’re climbing their mountains on their stair steppers and ellipticals, but I was once guilty of gazing out at that pool and thinking, “I’m working hard to put off the day when I, too, will be a heavy-set blue hair who can do no more than walk around the lazy river.” Ah, the vanity of ignorant youth!

Then came injuries and age, and I found out first hand that deterioration comes to us all. We can only hope that we live in such a way that character and wisdom balance us when we lose the ability to Salsa all night in high heels.

Fancying myself to be someone who always does what she must, I swallowed my pride, put on my mom-style swimsuit, and went to a pool walker class. What I found was that it stretched muscles I never knew I had. It left me sore in a good way, and nothing genuinely hurt the way it had for so long.  I also found that those heavy set blue hairs kicked my butt. They have to have some serious balance and poise to do all of their calisthenics against the current. Shame on me for ever thinking pool walking was somehow a lesser fate.

I hate swimming. I hate swimming pools. I hate what swimming pools do to my skin and my hair. . . . No one sets out in life to be a pool walker. No one. We are all there because it is what we have to do to stay active, alive, and useful to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So for myself, my family, and my writing partner, I take the Pool Walker’s Creed:

I will never quit. I will brave every child-ridden kiddie pool, every rude teen queen in a bikini, and every derisive glance from the young studs who are trying to impress the teen queens in bikinis. I will forge every toppling current in every lazy river if that is what it takes to avoid unnecessary pill-popping, surgeries, and deterioration, so that I will stay as strong as possible for my family, my friends, my partner, and myself. Because the only thing worse than working out, is not being able to.

What have you done to survive that you never thought you would do?

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14 comments on “The Pool Walker’s Creed

  1. amyshojai says:

    Bravo to you! I love swimming but the nearest pool is in the next town over so haven’t (yet) made the effort. I should. You’re ahead of me.

    As I type this, I’m walking on my desk-treadmill. I never thought I’d love a treadmill, seems so …boring…to walk and never get anywhere. But in the heat of summer (or freeze of winter) I can’t get outside. I have an aversion to heatstroke and have Reynaud’s syndrome so the cold hurts like a bastard. The desk treadmill lets me keep on working while I sorta-kinda work out. And it keeps my back from giving me fits from an old garden injury (gardens are deadly!). I try to do an hour on the treadmill every day which translates to between 3-5 miles depending on how fast I walk.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      A desk treadmill sounds like a great idea, especially as I also have an aversion to heatstroke, and it can stay below 0 for a week at a time here in winter. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

      And a gardening injury? That’s a new one on me, but I don’t garden. It looks too painful with all of that kneeling and squatting, and that’s without any injuries. :)

  2. Thanks for posting this, Piper. I have severe arthritis in my right ankle where I’ve had 7 surgeries and need another b/c of it being crushed several years ago. The ankle doesn’t bend properly and I use crutches to help alleviate some of the pain. I just joined a club so I could swim. The fact is, I love the water and I love to swim. But getting in a suit and facing that window (why the heck do they do that anyway???) just kills any desire I have to go. Ugh! But, I guess I’ll join you in the survival thing. :-)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Yeah, Rhonda! I suppose we can comfort ourselves by knowing that the cocky sons-of-bitches on the other side of that window will ALL get their own some day. Good luck with your ankle! Please keep me posted. That sounds like a real pain.

  3. Lyn says:

    Oo-rah, Piper!

  4. tedhenkle says:

    Glad to hear you’re doing what you can to stay healthy! I’ve had to give up running due to knee issues. Fortunately, it’s nothing serious, just joint inflammation that occurs when I run. So for outdoor exercising, I took up cycling a few years ago. I’ve been doing stationary cardio machines for years, but probably don’t push myself as hard as I should–It’s the only time I have to do any leisure reading!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Sorry you had to quit running. I don’t run, myself, unless a bear is chasing me, but I know other people really enjoy it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

      Cardio machines are great for reading, as long as you don’t get seasick. :)

  5. Good for you, Piper. I hear you re the mom-style bathing suit but… what the hay … we had our day! Staying healthy is the key now!

  6. All those beautiful high heels of the past days.
    That was then, this is now. Let them smirk. – as you say, someday comes for all.
    (but can’t read on treadmill or bike or even in a moving car – so I’m way behind reading as trying not to sit still)

  7. No one sets out in life to be a pool walker. No one. – I love that, Piper!! So true! But we do what we gotta do! I have done it and it feel wonderful! I hate having to get into my skirted-suit (which the fact that my hair is not blue yet means that I haven’t earned), and getting in cold water but once inside it’s wonderful! Unfortunately I had to stop because treading water as I walked was hurting my arthritic wrists! You go girl! :)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Oh, wow. I never thought about the wrist thing. I’m six feet tall, so the river only comes to my waist. I don’t tread much.

      As for earning the skirt, you’re a hoot! I thought we earned it with consumption of tamales and chocolate fudge at Christmas time. . . . I may look for one in cammo. Suppose Cabela’s has it? :)

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