Silver Sneakers


At the beginning of my triathlon training I decided to take swimming lessons in order to give myself the biggest advantage in the swim portion of the race.  I’ve been in the pool at 7am on Tuesday and Thursday for the past two weeks. The second biggest revelation I’ve had as a result of these lessons is that swimming is the only activity that allows me to not think of anything but what I’m doing in the moment. I’ve tried guided meditation, which in no uncertain terms, will never work for me. A very spiritually mature friend of mine gave me a meditation exercise in which I was supposed to set a timer for 3 minutes and attempt to clear my mind of everything and focus on nothing but the back of my eyelids. By the time the buzzer rang I had already planned my next vacation, decided that I would eat Mexican food for dinner and came to believe that I would probably not be spending much time meditating.  I’m not sure at what point I checked out and lost focus, but my best guess would be around 7 to 10 seconds into the exercise.

The biggest revelation I’ve had is that my obsession with working my way into the social circle that is the YMCA Silver Sneakers did not end with my stint in the boot camp class I took last summer. When the class was over I would haul out of gym as fast as possible, usually because I was afraid that I was going to throw up in front of the entire class after too many plate slides. What I noticed while leaving the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday was a group of elderly men and women having coffee and what looked like a swingin’ good time social hour in the lobby. What struck me was that they looked so happy, were having the liveliest conversations and, in general, looked like a group of people that I would really like to hang out with. The tagline on the Silver Sneakers website is “Get fit, have fun, make friends!” I’m in!

I’ve always had affection for older people. Their stories and insight make me feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of what there is to know about life. One of my dearest friends is a fitness instructor so I called her and asked if she was certified to teach their class and if not, to please get certified so that I would have an excuse to participate. Unfortunately my only hope just laughed at me and my plan fell apart.  Imagine my excitement, however, when I showed up to my first swim lesson and realized that it was going to be just the Silver Sneakers and me in the pool. I don’t know why it brings me such joy to hear the water aerobics instructor yelling “Jumping Jacks! Now Jane Fonda everyone!” But it does. I still haven’t figured out what the Jane Fonda move consists of, but when I’ve got it down I’ll let you know.

Thanks to this triathlon, I am finally getting the chance to know some of the Silver Sneakers and am enjoying the post-swim conversations we are having in the locker room about everything from the best way to get chlorine out of a swimsuit to the best time of year to travel to Italy. My time with them also makes me realize that all of the over-planning, the frantic list checking and obsessive-compulsive goal setting probably aren’t the ways in which I will experience life on a deeper level. Taking the time to connect with another human being, listening, learning and just breathing are a few of my new goals. Oh, and I keep forgetting, finishing the triathlon.

Next: My swim coach, Ava

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3 Comments on “Silver Sneakers

  1. I love this post.
    First, I have never been able to meditate. There is nothing in this world that makes my brain and imagination overload than someone telling me to “clear my mind” or “focus on nothing”. I am glad I am not alone in this.
    Second, years ago when I was recouping from several back surgeries I started “Mall Walking”. The controlled environment made it easier to start walking with a walker and then progress to healthy walking again. Every morning I would walk with seniors, chat with seniors and be encouraged by the seniors. They were wonderful and made the process much more entertaining. Now that I am approaching the “Silver Sneaker” time of my life I appreciate when someone as young and vibrant as yourself value time spent with those who are older.

  2. Pingback: Back To Reality…. | ifyounevertri

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