Dipping my toe back into exercise begins in the pool

It was a promise I had to keep.

Nearly one year after beginning my heartfelt – and so far successful – effort to lose weight, I promised I’d begin doing some serious working out. The goal? Getting back on the tennis court, perhaps running a 5K.

So yesterday morning, I put on the swimsuit that is now too big, threw on my favorite sweats and drove a mile to the YMCA. Yes, I was that lazy. But I also was that late.

I arrived just in time for my first water aerobics class.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.28.00 PMThe first thing I noticed was the joy on the faces of my classmates, all beautiful, friendly women who appeared to be 20 to 25 years my senior. The second thing I noticed was this: Unlike the upstairs burn room, where my peers were running on treadmills, balancing on big balls and using a series of machines that I’ve used – and hated – a hundred times, this tranquil space in cool water was slower, joyful and fun.

The lesson began with balancing – standing-on-one-foot-while-holding-weights balancing. I silently began calling our instructor Mrs. Miyagi. (Google “The Karate Kid.)

We moved from that action to full-on jumping jacks and stretches, all while moving the weights, which got heavier and heavier, under water.

I should have done this sooner.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.27.50 PMAs we continued stretching the fronts and backs of our arms and the inside and outside of our thighs, we were joined by our lone male classmate, a white-haired, self-assured Mac Daddy who made himself right at home, as he moved from one lady to another, chatting and smiling. It was fun to watch.

But I couldn’t watch for long because I had to really pay attention to instructions on doing things my body didn’t necessarily want to do first thing in the morning.

By the time the class was over, I realized that I’d made some great friends, even if they’re friends I might see only in a swimming pool with health on our minds.

As I left, I asked Mrs. Miyagi how long the classes would continue.

“Forever,” she said, “except for holidays.”

That’s good. I’ll continue my mile-long walks each morning, and I’ll soon begin working with a personal trainer.

But my water aerobics class? That’s a time to stretch and laugh and hang with some of the nicest women I’ve met in a long time. If all the future classes are as great as this first one, these workouts are going to be my new Skittles.

ROCHELLE RILEY’s essays on this blog are about her personal adventures. No reprints without permission. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.