The Fun Project

A mid-life rediscovery of the art of having fun

Fun Project Podcast – Episode 3

Where I enter the world of aqua fitness…

In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about fun in the water. We’ll have an expert joining us – the fabulous aquatics leader Katy Coffey. who knows her way around the pool, and we’ll explore how splashing around leads to fun. Thanks for being here. 

I like to be in the water. It’s an obvious direction for me when it comes to finding fun. I know there are a variety of preferences and experiences when it comes to water, but I believe I’ve found my frolic consistently enough to know that it’s an easy source of fun for me. When I consider the water as part of this effort, there are some limitations. It’s cold for most of my year, so that means the most year-round water option is a pool. Pools are largely booked up for lap swimming, but that’s not fun for me. I don’t want to have to stay in my lane and keep pace – I know many people who find their zen in the pool, but we’re here to talk about fun, not zen. 

I can understand why people would be fearful or consider it a hassle, but being in the water is a real source of fun for me. I love the ocean, lakes, pools, rivers – swimming is a key point in any vacation I take. I’ve been lucky to have water nearby for all of my life and it’s ingrained in me. It’s part of who I am.

My specialty is the dolphin dive. I’m not sure whether this is an actual term, but I’ve been doing this since I was able to swim. In water just about at my waist, I dive under the water, quickly pop up and then dive in again. I do this six or eight times – I actually don’t know how many times – there’s no exact recipe. It’s impossible not to laugh or at least smile after that much ridiculousness.  The water can be calm or a little wavy. If it’s really wavy, you’re just going to dive into the waves – this is a way to make up for the absence of waves. It’s meditative too- I heartily recommend it. 

When I was a kid, we played this game called matchstick. I loved that too. This was in the ocean and it involved a dock, or maybe you’d call it a pier, but it’s really just important that you can look down on the water and dive in, so whatever you have is fine. A raft would work, too. One kid – the bomber – dives in holding a wooden match (I realize those are antiques at this point, but stick with me) and splashes as hard as possible to obscure the match in the foamy water. The kids looking down from the dock are super focused on finding that floating match – the one who gets it is the next bomber. It was great. 

So, dolphin dives, match stick and otherwise acting like a child – that’s my kind of water fun. But even my kids have aged out of matchstick and it’s February and I’m not doing any dolphin diving. 

Enter aquafitness. You’ve not heard from me in a bit because I’ve spent the past weeks trying out a few different classes in my area and am here to attest to the experience. I’m finding it to be a way to laugh while exercising and experiencing the benefits of water. There a lot of varieties, which we’ll cover with Katie – I’ve done quite a few and keep coming back for more.

This is a huge category, if you haven’t noticed. Its predecessor, was aqua aerobics. I’m in marketing and public relations, and if anything needed a rebranding it’s aqua aerobics. So, good on you, aquafitness people. 

I’m going to take a moment to kick a couple of biases we likely share in the name of feminism and healthy aging.

The rebranding was necessary because this sort of exercise is usually thought of as an  “old lady” thing. Katy will talk about that a bit, but here I do want to say that I hate that kind of label for a lot of reasons – ageism is ugly and very real. There’s also the dose of mysoginism. It’s also working against us because naturally we don’t want to race into old age – but, as we’ll hear from Katy, this is something that is radically inclusive – 30 year olds bobbing next to 95 year olds.  I’d also say that something that’s fun should be yours. Mean talk limits opportunity. If you want to try something, just do it.

With Katy I’ll talk about what to wear. For many of us, there’s the thing about wearing a bathing suit.  I have wasted so many thought cycles, I regret to acknowledge as  my feminist self, thinking with concern about how I looked in a bathing suit. Fortunately, I really didn’t let this hold me back – I have prioritized what my soul needs, but it’s not as if the conflict isn’t there. I can name the kids during my middle school years who were mean – actually, when we played matchstick. I bet that might be true for you, too. Screw them. It’s my life and the only one I’ve got. How I look is not their business. And now I don’t really care all that much. I’d urge us all to fight that “old lady” bit and the self-image challenges – it is the job at hand and the way to freedom. 

You can find Katy at @aquafitkate on Instagram. Here are the references that she shared:

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