Gravity is not my friend

“You should come!”

Margaret has picked up her towel and is slipping on her flip-flops, ready to head off to the pool for water aerobics.

“No, sweetie, you go and enjoy.” This is the third winter we’ve been here when Donna is leading the morning pool exercises. Margaret has become quite a fan. I’m glad for her, but I can’t see myself splashing about in the pool to the beat of some country & western tune. Maybe if they played “It’s five o’clock somewhere” but I’m not sure the sun’s over the yardarm. Yet….

Really, what good are splishy-splashy pool exercises. I mean, I can bench press two-hundred-and-someting pounds and run a few miles just to warm up. Let’s see, when did I last do that. Hmm-m-m. I think it was sometime during the eighties. Or was it the seventies.

“It’s back exercises this morning. You’ve been complaining about your back.” Yeah, I know I have. But it’s not me, it’s that lousy motor-home mattress. My shoulder’s been a bit achey, too. And there’s that stiff knee. Maybe a soak in the pool wouldn’t be be all that bad. Or maybe I’ll just watch from the hot tub. OK, I’ll go as moral support for Margaret.

img_0414It’s just coming up to 10 o’clock and there are at least 20 people in the pool. Mostly women, but there are a few guys in the back in the deeper part of the pool.  I go in and shuffle toward the back.

Donna looks far to enthusiastic to me. She kibbitzes with some of the arrivals, then turns around and starts her boombox and a nice beat picks up in the background. Most of these people seem to know each other and the mood is light and positive. Amazing, considering that this is a transient RV park and, other than a few seasonal occupants, people stay here two or three weeks at most.

“OK, walk a little, forward; walk a little, back. Keep your head up and your shoulders back. Like you’ve got a book on your head.” This would be easy if I didn’t keep tipping over. “Tighten those abs…” Hey, that’ s better. “And breathe…..!” Oh yeah. Forgot to do that. The water feels nice and warm, and the sunshine and palm trees just add to the experience. Isn’t that Floyd Cramer on the piano? Ooh, I thought I was more flexible than that.

Donna leads the group through a number of movements. She’s here all winter and leads these sessions five days a week. Some people make a point of returning to this park just to take part in these morning exercises. They’re just, well, friendlier than most.

Leading this group of bouncing, splashing winter sojourners wasn’t something Donna ever penciled into her life plans. Originally, she was just one of the participants. Then, several years ago she took off some time to attend a retreat with a group of Benedictine nuns in Texas. There were pool exercises offered as a part of the program and she went. Not far into the session she realized that their exercise program hadn’t been updated since…, well maybe since the Benedictine order was originally founded. With some encouragement from the nuns, Donna got herself certified in water exercise programs and ended up revamping and leading the sessions. And so, a new lifestyle was born.

In the last hour, I’ve strectched and moved every part of my body, waking up parts of me I’d forgotten I own. Nobody is overworked and the program can be as easy or energetic as anyone wants it to be. People are laughing and talking and we give a victorious hoot and holler at the end of the session. I feel better than I have for a long time.

I’m already planning to be back here tomorrow. Just as moral support.

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