Fitness Friday – Just Keep Swimming

Gosh, I feel like I’ve been planning on writing this post forever and yet other topics just kept getting in the way. Our pool has been opened since March and while I’ve mentioned it a few times I’ve never really had the chance to talk about how great it has been for my body. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have regular access to a pool (or even a lake / big body of water) but for those of you who do I thought I’d share some of my lessons and tips on making the most out of your swim time without having to swim laps. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with laps, in fact I believe they’re quite good for you and they’re a great source of cardio, but sometimes you just don’t want to swim back and forth, back and forth. So what do you do?

Water Aerobics

If you’ve never been to a water aerobics class as your local rec centre or something like that I strongly suggest checking them out. I know there’s this stereotype that it’s something only for older individuals but once you get out of that mindset you’re bound to have a lot of fun and to actually get in a really good workout.

While I haven’t been to any classes recently I have stolen a bunch of water aerobics moves for when I feel like bouncing around the pool. Some are a bit harder without a shallow end but for the most part it’s doable. These exercises are great for toning your muscles without putting too much pressure on your joints.

You can find lots of different articles with Water Aerobic moves online but by far my favourite is the “Wave Maker”, here’s what you do:

  • Position yourself facing one wall of the pool with your hands gripping the edge.
  • Bring your torso and legs up to a nearly level position just below the surface of the water.
  • Pin your knees and feet together and then kick out like a dolphin, trying to keep legs and feet under water the entire time.
  • Do this for 30 seconds or for as long as possible.

Pilates / Barre Inspired Moves

I’m sure this has been done before but for me it’s just something I came up with without any prompting. I have a love-hate relationship with the repetitive lifts and pulses of pilates moves because they’re a simple form of toning but they can hurt so much. Taking some of my pilates leg moves to the pool has allowed me to work with a different type of resistance that doesn’t make my muscles scream quite as much.

My method of taking pilates to the pool has revolved solely around working my leg muscles. I do front, side, and back leg lifts to the count of fifteen with an additional ten count of small pulses. All you’ll do is position yourself against a wall for balance and purposefully bring your leg up and down in the water (one side at a time) with your toe pointed while moving up and flexed while going down. After the fifteen count I pulse at the top of the motion for ten before repeating on the other leg.

It’s relatively simple but it does help work those leg muscles without so much pressure on balance or on your joints. It’s also a great way to really burn out your muscles if you’ve just finished a harder out of water routine. Just be careful getting out of the pool, sometimes you don’t realize how worn out you are until after you’re back on dry land.

Walking Around

By now I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you think I have an obsession with walking and perhaps you’re right. It’s one of the easier forms of exercise and it can still be incredibly beneficial. I think it’s extra awesome to take your steps to a pool when you have the unique situation of nearly feeling weightless while also working against resistance. If I’m alone in the pool I will legitimately just walk around, counting my steps in my head until I hit a number I’m satisfied with. It certainly helps that our pool is all the same height and that no part of it goes over my head so I’m not suddenly trying to walk under water.

In addition to getting new methods of exercise in, the pool has been a surprising great place for another area of growth in my life and that has to do with  my body image and self confidence. Perhaps this seems a little backwards because a bathing suit isn’t exactly a safe place to some people. To be honest, it was never one to me either. Putting my bathing suit on the first few times to go swimming in the new pool had me feeling anxious about walking through my apartment building for all to see. Even when there was just one other person in the pool area I felt myself shrink up a little bit at first.

But with time that has changed.

I’m now comfortable jumping into my swim suit and heading to the pool. I don’t hesitate to walk around the pool deck even though I know the folks on the treadmills in our gym have a straight shot of me. I don’t worry as much when the pool is crowded in the evening and I’m the only one there without a typical beach body.

And that’s because I’m continuing to understand that every body is a beach body.

If you want to wear a bikini, wear it, and equally as important if you don’t want to wear one, don’t.

For so long I focused my goals on finally being able to fit into a bikini because aside from my very young childhood days I have never wore one. In high school my bathing suits typically consisted of a pair of board shorts and a tankini top. Back then, I wasted too much time dreaming about the day I could wear a bikini when I probably should have just put one on. My self worth got wrapped up in whether or not my stomach was flat enough to look good with so little coverage and to be quite blunt it was incredibly damaging.

So I’ve switched my mindset and I’m no longer making one of my goals to be bikini focused because the fact is that it’s about so much more than a flat tummy or what size you’re wearing. There are individuals of all shapes and sizes who are comfortable wearing that style of bathing suit, just like there are individuals of all shapes and sizes who are not comfortable. It’s a body image and comfort level issue, not a weight issue. Right now I’m still learning to love my body where it’s at in addition to where it is going so I’m going to stick with my one piece suit, which suits me just fine.

So those are my thoughts on our no longer new pool. I know I’m spoiled rotten to have one right in my building but public pools and beaches can be just as useful. Try not to worry too much about how you look in a bathing suit (you look gorgeous by the way) or what people may think. Love yourself, love your body, and don’t let anyone stop you from having fun.

 

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