Teamwork at 85

by Joan Houghton

…And…it’s off to Water Aerobics at 9 A. M.   NEVER did I think it would be fun.  In fact, not being a swimmer or lover of bath houses or happy to get into a swimsuit, especially among strangers, I forced myself to participate.   Nevertheless, off I went (in a very skeptical mood).

Thankfully, I did find out we were all sizes and shapes and that was okay.  Most had a smile on their faces.  Our instructor on the side of the pool was a darling—full of energy and words of encouragement:  “Good Job”, she said;  “good effort,  take a little rest (one minute), now  we will do  the scissors kick for a minute and a half”.  When she announced we were halfway through, there were  audible groans.

It helped when she played old tapes from the  thirties, forties and fifties.  Ah, each participant had his/her own memories of every song and even felt like humming among the “big arm strokes”  and the “sidewise grapevine stroke, and the wooden soldier march through the water.”  Then, “let’s go backwards, increase your speed,  raise your arms over your heads; step over an imaginary log.  Now we will use the plastic dumbbells, pushing them  down through the water”.  Surely the biceps are growing by the minute.    In the midst of these activities we had opportunities to visit with each other while cavorting through the water (another plus).

Nearing the class-time end, we were encouraged to participate in a brief recreation.  Perhaps, it would be a modified volleyball, or even a pass-the-ball race or the hilarious tiny rubber ducky race.  You competed by pushing the waves to send the ducky across the pool—a relay with your partner.  The water was a-flurry as  we all tried our best to win for our partners.

Then came my favorite part:  stretching, in which you walked your feet up the wall and leaned back while hanging on to the railing.  Oh, the stretch and relaxation  felt marvelous;  and the music was playing  softly.

It was then that the word  “TEAM” popped into my mind.  I felt like a member of a team with a common goal.  In this case, it was to keep your muscles moving  and to stay  limber.  I took a sidewise look at my teammates and wondered if they felt the same.  There  were usually 9 to 12 participants—all facing different types of challenges, but right now we were  working out together and it was worthwhile, enjoyable; and I loved it.

However, getting out of the pool was a shock.  While feeling rather agile in the pool, now with every step, it felt like I must weigh 400 pounds.  Then it crossed my mind, I wonder if this is how the astronauts must feel when they come out of weightlessness.

At any rate, it was all worth it.  My afterthought, was, thank goodness, these days young girls have opportunities to be team members at all ages and in countless sports.  We have come a long way for women….there were no such female teams in the 1930’s.  We are greatly indebted to many trailblazers for their perseverance on behalf of all women.

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