Friday, February 15, 2013

Poolside Boot Camp

I'm not much of a fan of workout classes. Yes I've done my share of step classes and yoga classes but that was a long time ago and I much prefer solitary runs or group bike rides to parking myself between strangers and doing what the person at the front of the room tells me to do. It's only in the pool that I seem to enjoy a class-type setting with an instructor yelling at me to work harder. Perhaps it's because, with my head under water most of the time and everyone too busy trying to survive to pay much attention to me, it still feels rather solitary.

Wednesday at the pool was an entirely different experience for me and it felt suspiciously like boot camp.

Christine planned out one of her resistance classes. My favourite kind of class. She told us that we were going to break into two groups. Group one was being tethered to the wall with stretch cords. They had to swim out until they felt resistance and then hold their position for 20 strokes. Then they had to go harder and hold that for 20 more strokes. Increase a third time and hold that for 20 strokes. Head back to the wall for 30 seconds and do it again. Repeat ten times.

The other group (my group) were going to swim 200m twice. The hitch was that we were going to have a pull cord clipped to our waist with a bucket (the kind a kid would bring to the beach to make sand castles) attached at the end. We had to swim while dragging a very resistant bucket behind us.

Enter boot camp. "Oh, and between each 200m I want you to hop out of the pool and do ten pushups, three times" announced Christine.

"How about one pushup once?" I mumbled to George.

Pushups fall in that category of things my body just can't seem to do. I can lower myself down but, if I lower all the way down, I can't even push back up once. It's like I'm stuck and is embarrassing and frustrating at the same time. Now she wants 30?

I attached the belt around my waist and dropped the bright blue bucket with the pretty fish drawings into the water. We headed off. For the record, two hundred metres pulling a small bucket is surprisingly hard and ridiculously slow. Christine waited until we finished before she announced that she used to pull kayaks behind her when she was training in the canal for her Lake Ontario swim.

"Yes but I bet they weren't bright blue with fishies painted on them!"

We dragged ourselves out of the water and on to the pool deck - to the amusement of Doug and the other folks in the lane swim. Some of us were better pushuppers than others but, on the whole, we sucked. I did three sets of 7 half pushups which means I lowered myself about half way down and shakily hoisted myself back up again. I switched to the lady pushups halfway through that because I was shaking so much I thought I'd break my nose on the pool deck when I collapsed.

Back into the water for another 200m of bucket pulling. Back out for another pathetic push up frenzy. Then it was time to switch to the stretch cords - my favourite! I did ten of those and, while they are hard and exhausting, I love them. It was now 6:33am.

"Switch!" Christine yelled.

What?!? I have to do more pushups??

I headed back to my bucket and tied it on. I headed off to slog through another 200m, wondering if this was the moment I finally say no to something she wants me to do. My arms were so spent and I dreaded the thought of having to push myself up even one more time.

That, my friends, is when the whistles blew. See, we had been smelling faint whiffs of smoke during our workout but the lifeguards couldn't figure out what it was or where it was coming from.  It wasn't bad enough to really worry but, after a while, they apparently decided was important enough to evacuate the building so, at 6:40am they blew their whistles and sent us scurrying to the locker rooms for a 'fast shower'. By the time I walked out to the entrance there were three fire trucks with their lights flashing and a gaggle of firefighters in full gear walking around.

I'm still not sure what happened but the pool was open again the same day so obviously nothing too major.

Wednesday night, as I lowered myself down into bed, I felt a deep ache in my abs. Like I had done a few too many planks. Except that I don't do planks.

Oh wait, yes I do...when I'm doing pushups on the pool deck at 6am.

By Thursday morning I had to roll on my side to push myself out of bed because I could not sit up for the ache in my muscles. By Thursday afternoon it hurt to laugh and by Thursday night I was wondering if I'd be able to swim in the morning.

I will admit (grudgingly) that the occasional pool side boot camp is probably a good idea. But it doesn't mean that I have to like it.

The scene that greeted the 7am swimmers when they arrived at the pool for their morning swim. 

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