April 16, 2014

Beginning Aqua Aerobics for Cowards: Hotel Pool Edition

By Crabby McSlacker

Yes, we did indeed just have a post about aqua-aerobics! But that was a real one, a guest post written by someone who actually knows something about it.

This is the lame-ass, totally illegitimate guide directed at people like me who:
  • Hate getting into water because it is cold and wet;
  • Don't swim well;
  • Don't like water up their nose;
  • Are too lazy and/or intimidated to sign up for a class and actually learn how to do stuff properly;
  • Have a multitude of other complaints about pool-based activities (like racoon goggle eyes, ill fitting swimsuits, inconvenient location/hours, toxic chlorine, and the probability that kids have peed in the water); but, who
  • Have accumulated enough joint pain, injuries, boredom or burnout to make taking advantage of a totally different form of exercise that is suddenly conveniently available sort of intriguing.
So yeah, I'm sparing you more South Africa pictures today to share my hotel-pool aqua-aerobic workout experience, should you be planning to travel anywhere and want to toss in a bathing suit and give it a shot.

Step One: Find a deserted or mostly-deserted hotel pool:

This can be tricky. The best chance is at a hotel that still heats their pool off-season. There was never anyone at the Frisco Texas Homewood Suites even remotely interested in a late March/ early April swim and I had it all to myself.  But even if other annoying competitors for your pool may be theoretically interested, most will be too lazy to get up early and hit the pool first thing in the morning and you may still have it to yourself.

Step Two:  Prepare yourself for the horrible hideous first few seconds of immersion:

If it ain't a shower, bathtub or a spa, entering into a body of water can be a most unpleasant experience.

You KNOW it's better if you dive in rather than go inch by excruciating inch. Yet I almost never follow that advice.  For these couple of workouts though, I actually did dive in for once, and it's true, it is indeed the way to go. Plus it feels bad-ass and generates major smugness if you are normally too chicken to do it. However, it helped me to:

Jog a little on the treadmill ahead of time to get hot, to make water sound more appealing. But then stand out in the freezing-ass wind staring at the pool frozen in terror long enough that dipping a toe in yielded an almost-warm contrast.  Warm core temperature plus freezing skin seemed to be the optimal preparation for me.  (Had there been a shower near the pool, that probably would have been good prep too).

It still sucked when I dove in, but only for a second or two.

Step Three: Ask An Incredibly Patient Spouse or Friend to Join You, or Failing That, Have Them Stop By With a Camera

I'm pretty happy to go solo when making an ass of myself trying new things, but most people would probably feel less doofy with a co-conspirator to splash around with.

But having a photo record of your efforts might keep you from jumping right back out of the water again after 2 minutes, and it will remind you later that sometimes you are brave and challenge yourself. And bonus: it will enable you to write a blog post about your swim and bore your readers if you like to do that sort of thing.

Step Four:  Prepare Yourself for Major Lameness, But Don't Give Up.

If you had any previous experience swimming or frolicking in pools as a youth, but haven't done it in years, you may have unrealistic expectations of competence and comfort. You may think that being generally fitter than you were back then will make up for lost muscle memory and skills.

Nah. You may be amazed at how crappy you've gotten at moving around in the water.

If you are like me, anxiety may make it hard to catch your breath, strokes you half-remember will be nearly impossible to execute, and you can easily feel like an awkward floundering ape attempting to do things you used to do with ease. (Though I suspect apes would be way better at it than I was).

The breathing thing does get a little better as you settle in, but don't beat yourself up if your don't seem to have the same aerobic capacity in the pool as you do other places.

Step Five:  Don't Have a Big Agenda; Be Flexible And Mix it Up.

Fun and experimentation should be the guiding principles. It helps to have a few ideas of what you might want to do in there, but you get major credit for getting in and doing ANYTHING. You can read some suggestions in the aqua aerobics post, or just mix up swimming laps with other aerobic activities you invent yourself, letting improvisation and whim direct you to whatever seems most appealing.

Some things I did:

Run, shuffle sideways, and hop from side to side.

See if I could go the length of the pool doing underwater breast stroke. (Just barely, and it was a small pool).

Jump up and down--it's a great way to get explosive movements without joint pain on landing.

Practice forward somersaults without getting water in nasal passages.

Do a bunch of laps of breastroke because that's the easiest, most pleasant way to  get from one end of the pool to the other.

Try backwards somersaults and flail comically to one side each time.

Try to swim the crawl without drowning.

Grab a noodle to use as a kickboard and discover that kicking is HARD.

Realize the butterfly is the stupidest, hardest stroke ever invented.

More jumping up and down.

Wonder how the hell you're supposed to know when the pool ends when attempting backstroke. Curse when you hit the wall unexpectedly.

Cup palms and use water as resistance for newly-invented arm and core exercises.

Try breathing every other stroke doing the crawl and marvel how difficult that's become.

More running around, hopping, etc, forwards, sideways, and backwards.

Attempt a few flip turns.

I forget what else, but somehow each time I was able to find enough to do to get a couple reasonably fun 25-30 minute workouts out of it!

Step Six:  Feel Hella Smug for Doing Something Different and then Eat an Enormous Buffet Breakfast To Celebrate!

What is it about getting in a cold pool that makes food taste so freakin' good?

Do you guys do water exercise regularly? Would you consider it if you found yourself at a hotel with a deserted pool?


  1. In the summer at my moms pool I do water exercises. My mom solely does this as exercise.

  2. I enjoy the pool! I have a salt water pool right in the building so I can swim almost any day of the year. I do have a problem with water in the ears, so I usually just run back and forth now. It is nice because I can't run in the dry world without harming some part of my body. Since I am headed to the beach soon, I am going to try to find some earplugs that work! P.S. You look great in your suit!

    1. Thanks Kimberley, and good luck with the soggy ear problem!

  3. I like the jumping up and down bit. It's kind of like flying and floating without all the scary bits.

  4. I don't do water exercise regularly. At one point I had a foot injury and I took to swimming laps sometimes (which, despite being in running shape, was HARD). So I kind of look at swimming/water exercise as something I could do if I'm not doing the thing I really want to (which is unfortunate).

    Having said that, when I was a kid, you could not get me OUT of the pool. I don't like salt water or pond water, but I was like a fish when it came to swimming pools.

    1. I was much more comfortable too in pools when I was a kid OTF, what happened to us? Now it's such a big freakin' deal to even think about getting in the water!

  5. Dear, brave Crabby - Yes: brave!! You so vividly and accurately describe the reasons some of us disdain the thought of entering a body of water being close on a scale of equivalency to getting ready for a root canal that I just about wanted to hop into a nice, warm fluffy robe to 'recover'! AND you actually DID this?! You certainly earned that big ass breakfast - most definitely - being in the water makes a person voraciously hungry. I'm an inch by incher, too. But, now you almost have me wanting to try the opposite. "Almost"................... :) So, I think I'll do the next best thing and just go have that big assed breakfast!

    1. I gotta say the breakfast was the best part Ultrakaz! And thanks for appreciating the enormity of something simple like getting into a pool and splashing around. For me: high degree of difficulty! For most people: no big deal!

  6. I love swimming so it is funny to hear you describe it. Usually I am the non-athlete wondering what is up with these people that love running or are willing to do burpees without a trainer pressuring them into it. Weird!
    The pool for me is complete freedom, partly because my weight is less of an issue, but also you can be completely private doing laps until some flailing dork turns those laps into an obstacle course.

    1. I will trade you running for swimming any day Cindy! And It's good I stick to deserted pools or I'd totally be the flailing dork in your way. :)

  7. I avoid pools for all the reasons you mentioned and a few more. I loved to swim as a child but we had a cabin on a lake and there was no one else around so complete privacy. Now if I had a pool of my own I would love it but public pools are just not my thing!

    1. I'm with you mk, it's the deserted and convenient thing that drew me in and public pools are neither!

  8. For some reason, i can no longer get past the idea of all that chlorine. This from a person who used to swim 500 laps a day.

  9. I do my own version of pool aerobics in my pool in the summer. Yeah, I walk, jump, hop, dance to music, etc. It can be quite fun. And it is really good for my knees. At a hotel pool, I might tone it down a bit if other guests are nearby.

    Thanx for another great post. Crabby you crack me up. :D

    1. Yay for you Bob Ben! I wished I'd had music, that would have made it way more fun. And thanks for the kind words!

  10. When I'm laying out it has to be pretty close to 100 for me to even think about getting in a pool, the lake or the ocean - I don't like to be cold and cold from water is my least favorite kind!!
    When it's warm here I sometimes do some running in the water at the swim beach but mostly I just lay there soaking up sun!

    1. "Cold from water is my least favorite kind" Hell Yeah, me too Kim!

  11. OMG you are funny!!! No water aerobics for me unless I get injured & have to - not gonna let that happen! ;)

  12. If there were a pool handy--which hasn't happened in about fifteen years--I would consider getting some aquatic exercise if it did not include cold. I'm an inch-by-incher in the summer. In March? Not.
    As a child I used to jump straight into the water and get it over with. Past puberty I found that the shock of the cold made it dangerously difficult to breathe at first. I like breathing.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. Well makes sense Mary Anne with the breathing thing! My inch-by-inchiness is pure cowardice. :)

  13. Pretty cool post today. I've been thinking about swimming - seems the easiest on the joints. When the weather gets a tad warmer, I'm gonna ask the neighbor if I can use their pool. We'll see.

    1. Good plan Lucky Mama! I think a neighbor with a pool is almost better than having ones own which I suspect takes a certain pain-in-the-ass maintenance. Wish we had some pool-owning neighbors too!

  14. Haha, I love it! When we used to go to the Y we took a few water aerobics classes and they were TOUGH! I think you did great!

    1. thanks Courtney, but I bet the real classes were a LOT tougher than my random flailing. I'm still glad i did it though!

  15. It does not bleed and must recover within 6-8 weeks if it is cared for properly. Most people that have obtained a lip puncturing mention it harms much lower in comparison to getting the nose pierced.good health cares

  16. Death Ride GrandmaApril 18, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    Good for you, Crabby! We lived in the pool when we were little, but it's hard to remember why. It seems so different now! These days, I only swim when I am near a tropical beach with a mask and snorkel - and that mostly involves drifting along gently with no need to turn my head to breathe. I am lost in admiration of triathletes who are willing to plunge in & swim while others try to kick them in the face. Yes, my joints are old, but so far, not old enough to lure me into the pool. Maybe your workout idea can change that.

  17. WOW. This is so amazing. I wish I could have such an experience at least once in my life.. You are so lucky..


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