A few months ago a friend asked if I wanted to go to aquafit classes with her, so I decided to try it. My free session was fine, so I decided to join the Y and go three times a week. For some time, she was going to the gym afterwards, so I was swimming laps, trying to get up to some kind of speed. For now the Y is on hold, as I will be away, and the laps stopped after she returned from a trip to Japan.
Although it may seem rather mundane, it is actually interesting on a few levels. I at first pooh-poohed the idea, dismissing it as exercise for grannies, but since I am about to be a granny, I realized it was appropriate for me too. And in fact, when I look around most of the people have gray hair. This is low impact exercise, which my knee appreciates, and if I have been away from it for a while I do feel the work afterwards.
Actually, there are a few men that come periodically. One is probably in his 50s, overweight with man boobs. He looks like a politician or a car salesman or a businessman. He doesn’t always follow the teacher. Another is a man who comes with his ancient mother. His head is always down in his neck, like he expects to be whacked on the back. He is also in his 50s, so perhaps he was an ‘oops’ child, as his mother is 91. He is shy, but I overheard a woman asking about his marriage, so when we were both waiting outside, I asked him about it. He has never been married before and I wonder about the woman who will marry him and why they are getting married. There is an old British man who comes sometimes and a new little old man who comes with his round old wife. There was another middle-aged man who wore a lot of rings, but he has stopped coming.
There are few people of colour, typical of Orillia. Occasionally there is a young woman or girl. One girl came with her mother. She was wearing a bikini and I joked with her that I did not want to be beside her, though I was long enough to ask her some questions. She is being homeschooled, which is probably a good thing, given that the teachers go on and off strike. There is another young woman who comes with her rather large mother. She wears glasses in the pool, as she is evidently fairly blind without them.
And then there are all the grannies. Most are in their 60s, though some are in their 50s and 70s, and a very few are in their 80s. And there are all sizes. There are a couple of women who are immense and they mostly talk to each other at the back. Of the others, some are slim, though probably a little thicker than they used to be. Some are very round, with big butts and bellies and thighs. In the showers you can see their huge breasts hanging towards their bellies. There is cellulite that is progressing towards slack wrinkles. A few have had surgery, probably for knees or hips, and outside the water walk with canes or limp. The locker room is full of old women bodies, but few are shy about showing them.
A few of the women are British, one is Hungarian, and another looks like she is part Chinese. One woman I spoke to told me her mother was French, which probably means French-Canadian. She told me that her family was descended from a priest who had come in the 1600s. When I joked that I hoped they were not descended from a priest, she did not understand me. I asked if she were Catholic and when she said yes, I commented that the pope was a Jesuit, which she did not know. She didn’t seem the brightest star in the sky…
As the winter turned to spring, new women would show up with tans. They were returning from Florida. One woman was telling me she got her bathing suit at Bell’s, like I should know it—turns out it is a store in Florida. Now it is becoming summer and the tans are showing up on more women from working in the garden or being outside on their decks.
There is a certain amount of joking that goes on, as we comment on our lack of muscles or too much weight. Some women spend the whole time chatting with each other. It is interesting to try to guess what they did before they were older—teachers? Nurses? Homemakers?
We often comment on the music and sometimes sing along. One teacher in particular arrives with oldies, so we bop along to ‘Bab babra Ann’ or ‘Love Potion Number 9.’ The oldies are best for us, though the younger teacher’s music is more modern. It works for the beat but not so much for the nostalgia.
It is amazing how many women manage to not get their hair wet at all. All of the women have short hair, some almost man short and some bobbed. Most have gray hair in various shades and a few are die-hards who still colour their hair.
I used to spend a lot of time with people who were younger than me, as the population in Turkey is quite young. Here in Orillia, the population is older, as young people tend to leave and older people come here to retire. However, it is nice to be able to splash around with women who have something in common with me—gray hair, full granny figures, possibly interesting mystery lives. There is something to be said for aquafit for grannies.