What I Learned In My Aqua Cardio Class Full of Seniors

Athleticism has never been my strong suit. I’m clumsy. Which means I’m very good at tripping over my kids’ shoes and finding the one LEGO piece they missed during clean up. I walk into door frames and bump my head getting out of my car. My high school phys ed classes were–let’s just say I got an “A” for effort.

After struggling to catch my breath from walking up several flights of stairs, I decided I needed to get into shape. Scrolling through my county recreation courses, I chose what seemed to be the easiest class for my non-athletic self. Since I’m the parent in charge of getting my kids to and from school, a mid-morning class was the best option for me.

I signed up for “Aqua Cardio Dance” on Tuesday mornings right after school drop off. The class description promised that no dance background was needed, just a “willingness to move and have fun.” I’m willing to move and hopefully have fun.

That’s right. Me. Someone who couldn’t swim and claps offbeat to songs signed up to burn calories by dancing in a pool. It had to be easier than the tragic Zumba class where I was always 5 steps behind everyone else.

I was nervous on the first day of class. I did the mom thing and packed my workout bag the night before. I wore my bathing suit under my street clothes to be more efficient. “It’s just an exercise class,” I told myself as I parked my car. I would try to have fun, maybe make new friends.

After stowing away my things in the women’s locker room, I walked to the shallow end of the pool. Hanging out in the pool were approximately 20 senior citizens. A quick look around confirmed my new fear.

I was the youngest person in the class. By at least 20 years.

After powering through my first class while standing in the back row, I realized how amazing these women were. They were strong, smart, and confident. I wanted to be like them when I’m in my sixties! While my introverted self never had a deep conversation with my fellow classmates, they taught me some important life lessons:

Find your center first. A major challenge in aqua cardio class is not floating away. Even if you’re in the shallow end. The instructor reminded us to find our center in order to stay balanced as we danced.

The same rule applies to our busy lives. My family is my center. Whenever I’m unsure on what move to make next, I go back to my center and ask myself: is this the best decision for my family? From that perspective, the choices are easier to make.

Don’t give up if you miss a step. Slow down and reevaluate.  I have a terrible sense of rhythm. The only reason I can do the cha-cha slide on beat is because the instructions are in the song. It took me several repetitions from my instructor before I caught on to the steps. In my first class, I became flustered every time I missed the steps and bumped into the person next to me. Not willing to give up or embarrass myself, I forced myself to slow down, breathe, and pick up with the next move.

When life is moving at a breakneck pace and things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to, my first reaction is power through. Think of all the stress I could avoid if I only slowed down and took a few deep breaths to clear my mind. The world will always move on without us. It’s ok to take a break and reevaluate before returning to the fray.

Keep moving–even if it’s to your own beat. I wasn’t the only person who moved a few steps behind everyone else. I remember one woman in the first row who was in no hurry to stay in formation with the class. She happily moved at her own beat, fully aware of what her body needed. No matter what, she kept dancing.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the should’ves and could’ves, especially when you compare yourself to other parents. Knowing what is best for me and my family is more important than doing what is socially acceptable or expected. It doesn’t matter how I’m doing it or how long it takes. I keep moving forward.

Yes, I survived 8 weeks of my aqua cardio class. I learned that my body could dance in a pool. Not to mention that senior citizens are in way better shape than I.

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