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Addressing barriers to physical activity -- getting in the pool.

Monday, January 11, 2010

About a month back, I decided I wanted to start swimming -- its low impact, a really good cardiovascular activity, and most importantly, I like it. However, I was having a hard time making it happen. I realized there were several barriers to me getting in that pool.

Barrier #1: I needed a new swim suit. One that had a racer-back and was cut long in the torso for my nearly 6-foot frame.

Barrier #2: I was terrified of looking like a total idiot swimming, or disturbing other swimmers. I *can* swim, but I never made it past "Guppies" at the YMCA (due to the childhood obesity), and haven't swum laps since middle school...

Barrier #3: The Montana weather and horrible icy roads in Helena. Hard to make myself risk life and limb trying to get across town when it's so nasty out.

Barrier #1 was a fairly easy fix. I had gotten a one-piece tall swimsuit from Gap before; their athletic brand Athleta had a tall racer-back swimsuit on sale. I didn't want to shell out 80 bucks for a Speedo if I wasn't sure I was going to keep the swimming up.

Barrier #2 was more difficult. I saw on my gym's website that they offered adult swim lessons and they mentioned a Master Swim program. Of course, like most websites in Montana, there was no more info than that. The DH and I went to the gym for a tandem workout and I asked for some info at the desk. Turns out, there's not an adult swim class --what I was hoping would get me back into the groove swim wise so as not to embarrass myself -- but I could take lessons for $15/half hour. That didn't seem feasible considering I didn't know how many lessons I would need to get up to speed. But what about Master Swim? "Oh no!" the desk ladies exclaim, "That's for triathletes. Not for you!" So my dreams of a nice, low impact, swim regimen were crushed. How do I get around that one? I thought about it for the painful and boring next half-hour on the elliptical trainer. I decided I could muster a decently un-embarrassing front crawl and I decided I would ask when the pool is dead. "Evenings, mostly," says the desk girl, "but don't go any time around when the Master Swim is scheduled!"

The next couple of weeks I had intention, oh intentions!, to get into the pool, but I just couldn't make myself do it. Barrier #2 was still there. I decided to bring in a consultant, my friend/boss Karl. "Go talk to Carrie Strike (one of our co-workers), she's a swim coach." I hesitated. "Do you need me to go with you? Let's go!" I follow Karl over to Carrie's cube. We set up a swim date. She's gonna get me going. A time, a place. And I'm meeting Carrie, so I have to go. And she wants me to join Master Swim. She's the coach. Apparently, it's not just for triathlete, but just adults who want to swim, all levels. Uh oh. New barrier.

Barrier #4: I'm not sure I can keep up with people in Master Swim. Plenty of historical precedent for this. One of my most embarrassing moment from my obese childhood, forever burned upon my brain, is having to do the mile in gym class in second grade, and being the last kid in my class to finish, and as I'm coming up to the finish line, I see my entire class up on the little hill by the softball diamond, cheering for me to finish, except to me, it felt like taunting, not encouragement. 60 second-graders and the gym teacher in a mob-tease of my uncoordinated fatness. Pretty much put me off physical activity and trying new body related things well into adulthood. We won't even get into dance class and I'll just make a passing mention to trying the swim team in high school -- not good.

This Sunday I had my first swim lesson with Carrie. She gave me a bunch of drills to do to improve my technique and told me I'm not actually that bad of a swimmer. Huzzah!

Since I can't control the weather, or the City of Helena's reluctance, nay refusal, to salt the roads, Barrier #3 still stands, but I'll address Barrier#4. I'm a person who needs to see what they're getting into. Like, I was terrified of the chiropractor, but I really needed to try it for the pain. My husband wanted to get an adjustment too, so we scheduled an appointment together. He went first, so I could see what she was going to do. And it wasn't all that bad! So with Master Swim, I wanted to see part of a practice. After our lesson on Sunday, I watched for about an hour. And there was a new guy there who I thought I swam just as well as, if not better. So here's the plan: I'm going to swim 2-3 times this week and next week and join up Master Swim practice next Sunday - January 23rd.

(PS, I don't like this no profanity thing. Swearing is a major part of my self-expression)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Congratulations! I'm learning how to swim too! I'm hoping to do study abroad on a boat in a month, so it's a big thing for me! Good luck and don't give up!
    3050 days ago
    Nice job overcoming your fears. It's not easy but you're doing it. And thank you for getting me started here. I really appreciate it.
    3051 days ago
    It sounds like you are getting on track. Swimming is one of my favorites. Have fun!!!

    3053 days ago
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