Finding the Humor During Hard Times


John & me in Jamaica where we got engaged!

John & me in Jamaica where we got engaged!

My first aqua aerobics class was a defining moment in my war against Fibromyalgia.

I always considered myself a hard-core gym rat.  I went to the gym with the intention of killing it & then asking for more.  I spun harder than most guys, ran 8 1/2 minutes miles for 7 miles straight and went back the next day and did it again.

It was because of this approach that I didn’t think it was especially odd that my hips would “freeze” and my joints would become immobile.  Or as the day progressed, it became increasingly harder to get out of chairs. Oops.

Needless to say, after my diagnosis, I was finally ready to modify my exercise schedule.  I joined a second gym that has a bevy of water aerobic classes.  I dug out my one piece, that I probably haven’t worn since 2007, and headed to Gym #2 for class.

I arrived early.  Physical therapy was taking place in the pool, so I sat down and began doing some yoga stretches, that are a staple of my day, to ease the tight muscles in my neck.   I wasn’t very successful in my efforts because every other minute I was getting up to open the door for an elderly person.  One by one I let in my fellow participants for Aqua Aerobics.

As I sat there watching them hobble to sit on benches, many of them with canes; an incredible sadness overcame me.  Here I was, 31 years old, in great aerobic shape, about to take a class with geriatrics.  I felt embarrassed and humbled; but not in a good way.  I felt weak.

I sat there dealing with some pretty powerful emotions and started devising a plan to learn aqua aerobic techniques online and do it on my own time.  Then a little voice in my head started to whisper.  You have no choice Margo. You need this class.  You have to figure out a way to be ok with this.

That whisper was pretty damn smart.  I did have to find a way to turn this around.  I needed aqua aerobics and my classmates didn’t change that.  I decided to start thinking about the fact that I have a large amount of compassion for the elderly – which is why I was compelled to open the door for every one of them.

When it was time to get in the water, I was feeling much more positive about the experience.  What happened next turned out to be one of the most hilarious times I’ve ever had in a gym class.

It turns out that aqua aerobics actually means social hour for the elderly.  It makes sense really, they probably spend a large deal of time alone and this is an event that they attend every week.  The only male member in the group spent the entire class singing – rather loudly.  The women clearly had their cliques of 3 or 4 people each and they all gathered in the pool chit chatting about one thing or another.  The sound in the pool area was deafening.   The instructor was yelling over everyone’s voices announcing one movement after another that the class sometimes followed – sometimes didn’t.  It was absolutely hysterical.  I spent a large amount of the class smiling and bursting into laughter.  It was exactly what I needed.

At my darker moments, I return to that memory and remind myself to turn it around. Imagine if I had let my embarrassment get the better of me and I had left that class.  I would have missed an hour long laughter session.  That would have been a shame indeed.

Yours in Health,

m

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