Having spent the last few months working my way through the classes at Rodney and out spun myself at Bells Sports Centre I thought it was time to broaden the scope of this blog and get myself into the water! The truth is, I’m not great at swimming. I only got as far as my second certificate in school (I’m certain they don’t even do this anymore…!) and have just never used swimming as exercise. I took my son a lot when he was younger but at twenty three years old he feels he can manage on his own now…
All of that said, I have fond memories of “the swimmies”. I’m a child of the seventies so Dunkeld Road was my pool for learning how to swim and for passing that first major milestone in life – getting to go to the pool on your own, with your pals and no grown-ups. I was about 16 when Perth Leisure Pool opened and OMG as the kids would say, we thought we had died and gone to heaven. Flumes, music, wild water, a proper café AND an outdoor pool WITH a health suite. We had Friday nights sorted – squealing, flirting, splashing girls and too-cool-for-school boys. Happy days!
So I reckon I’ve been using Perth Leisure Pool, off and on, for about 28 years. Why then, in all of this time, have I never been to any sort of class in the water? I put it down to not being a great swimmer; it’s just not on my radar. But in the interests of research and fitness I took myself off to AQUAFIT on Tuesday night with an open mind (well, empty mind to be fair. I had NO clue at all what to expect!).
I arrived early and spent half an hour in the health suite enjoying a sauna and steam room. I had forgotten how relaxing that is. I live just 10 minutes walk from the pool and I never use this great facility – I used to pop in while Cain was at swimming lessons and I’m going to start using it again. I’m obviously a bit out of practice though – I was in the sauna for all of a minute before I unpinned my locker key from my swimming costume, the 2mm of pin against my skin searing like a cattle branding iron. Cue young man across from me in a crucifix on an 18 inch chain chatting nonchalantly to his mate! I ventured out to the bubble beds in the main pool and was debating whether or not a 40 something mother and business woman could have a go on the flumes on her own when I noticed the class starting to gather.
I slipped into the pool with about 20 other women (no men!) of vastly mixed ages. If I had any preconceptions of Aquafit I’d probably have guessed it was an “older ladies” class. Not the case.
I’m standing facing the front as a pair of “glove flippers” are passed to me. Now, this is almost certainly not the correct name for these but in my utter disbelief and general state of “eh?”, I forgot to ask what they were actually called. Janey is our instructor, standing at the side in her tough mudder t-shirt, she pulled a huge curtain across the café windows to secure our privacy (we like this!) and began with a slight squat and wide arm movements. As the music opened with Daft Punk featuring Pharell Williams and followed into Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines it was fast becoming top of the charts for music choice!
The acoustics don’t make for the usual instructor loudness but Janey’s obviously well experienced at this as her movements, facial expressions and mouthed instructions set the pace for everyone to keep in time and follow the class.
The idea in Aquafit is that the resistance of the water works against the movements giving you your workout. But, here’s the genius, the water also supports you so it doesn’t feel as though you’re working as hard. Well, you’re thinking that and then you’re asked to run…. Janey’s face can only be described as mischievous. Honestly, she’s like a tough little fitness pixie. Plenty of nonsense – the atmosphere is lots of fun – and shouts of FASTER as we’re wading in rows through the shallow end. And to be honest, it’s hard to take it seriously – that’s not to say you don’t work, you absolutely do. It’s just that you’re practically naked, in a pool, wearing blue flippers on your hands and squatting in time to “I always wanted a Good Girl”, while splashing yourself in the face on every “arms up” move. It’s like a synchronized swimming team from Royston Vasey. And everyone is smiling.
We’re taken through side twists, disco style. Press ups against the side of the pool. Clapping with the flippers on. And running through gallons of water. And then we’re all allocated stations – just like a circuits class. Imagine floating with a long tube and doing stomach crunches in the water. Or doing leap frogs from low squats, up and out of the water. (Side note: I have decided that any move with an animal in the name is not one I want to do too many of… leap frogs, bear crawls, bunny hops… all torturous!).
We finish with stretches and the hour is up. I pull myself out of the water to introduce the blog to Janey and my legs almost give way!!! I’m being serious – they buckle. “Oh yeah, you don’t really feel it until you get out!” she beams. I spin – I do meta fit. I have bouncing and splashing for an hour and my legs have almost dropped me!
So, just in case you’re still confused about the general idea of Aquafit… This is NOT an old ladies class; it is a serious work out. But it is also, possibly the most fun you’ll have had in Perth Leisure Pool since you whirled down the wild water. Get your swimmie out of the back of the drawer and give it a go – you’ll be smiling all night!
Things I forgot about going to the swimmies (AKA Perth Leisure Pool!):
• First up was my towel. I had left the house and had to go back. This may sound like I’m stating the obvious but if you’re in exercise class mode rather than pool mode its easier than you think (she said to sounds of “She writes well, but she’s not the brightest!”)
• You are ALWAYS starving when you come out. Regardless of what you’ve been doing. It’s a pool hunger – I got it at Dunkled Road when I was 10 and had to sate it with hoolahoops from the vending machine; I got after I’d taken Cain in for his baby swims and could devour a pool burger in 3 bites. You need to know that the café is closed when Aquafit comes out so take a snack. I found a graze box of flap jacks in the bottom of my bag and had inhaled it before I reached the bottom of the ramp at the park.
• When you walk home with damp hair (because it is impossible to dry your hair fully in the swimmies?!) and a wet towel in your bag you feel like you’re 16 - whatever the decade. Next week I am definitely going on the flumes!