What to do when cycling, aerobics and running feel dull

I’ ve never been one to exert too much effort when it comes to exercise. I like to think that mine is the ‘less is more’ approach in the fitness department. My weekly training consisted of going to the gym, hopping on a bike, and sitting there for 30 minutes with the lowest effort level possible applied. I used to people-watch from my position and envy those who seemed to be so into their workout, training with a purpose, lifting weights or running on the treadmill.

Scanning over the classes and personal trainers, it was the swimming pool that piqued my interest. The first three lanes were taken up by what looked like a swimming squad (this didn’t do my anxiety levels any favours), but the rest were swimming (pardon the pun) with people who seemed at peace.
I watched a tad jealously as they raised and dropped their arms into the water, completing length after length in their stroke of choice. It’s worth noting that swimming is an all-round fitness activity: it builds endurance, strengthens muscles and increases cardiovascular health.

swimming benefits

I thought about picking up this sport again (water polo was my high school love), but it seemed daunting—having to put on a swimsuit and building my swimming fitness levels again. Eventually, one morning, curiosity got the better of me and out came the Speedo, cap, goggles and towel, and I headed to the lanes feeling nervous and excited: was this sport all I had built it up to be?

After spending some time adjusting my cap and securing my goggles, I stood at the edge of the lane (luckily there was an empty one just for me, or else
I would have turned back to the bike), and dived in. The sensation of gliding into the water was instantly exhilarating, and soon I found my muscle memory remembering everything I had been taught. It all came back: the breathing technique (one breath every two, three or four strokes—two as a start when you’re building up your fitness levels), focusing on the way you glide your arms through the water, remembering to kick because it takes the pressure off your arms. Before I realised it, I had been swimming for 30 minutes and didn’t want to stop. That was until my shoulders started to ache, and I found myself slowing down and rolling around in the water just to reach the end of the lane.

That day I went to work feeling energised and inspired, with a notable smile on my face. The next morning I woke up
and did it all over again. Since then, swimming has become
my sanctuary, and it’s a ritual I look forward to daily. It’s my timeout from technology and
a time-in to reconnect with myself (with the occasional nod to the stranger who wants to share my lane—a fear I quickly overcame when I realised the nature of the sport was more introspective than worrying about the people around me).

200 s4

Swimming is now my morning meditation, and a way to unwind in the evenings—a time for mental planning and problem solving. It’s become addictive (in a good way), and all the aspects that I was anxious about before starting (goggle marks under my eyes, arriving at work with damp hair) are outweighed by the positive mindset it’s given me.

If long, lean muscles and
a full-body workout are on your fitness agenda, consider taking the plunge. Injured knee, ankle, shoulder? Swimming is the kindest sport to your body, and is suggested as an aid for working through many physical injuries.

Sometimes, I look up at the spinning bikes from the end of my lane and think about the world of wellness that those sweat-induced fans are missing out on.

Chlorinated water can be ruthless to your hair and skin. It only makes sense to take some precautions.

Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s what you need in your pool kit:

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