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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Splash and the City

I start out walking at a fast pace.  After a few minutes, I break into an easy run, imagining I’m racing through Central Park, as the coach tells me to pick up my cadence.  I hit a hill and pump my arms a little harder to get up to the top and then I speed up to a nice downhill clip, racing to the finish line, until I slowly drift into the person in the next lane, and accidentally inhale a little pool water.  Welcome to the world of deep water running.  How, you may ask, did a girl like me end up “running” through a pool in the basement of St. Bartholomew's Church, in the middle of midtown Manhattan?

My fitness journey began with a splash or, more accurately, a thud.  

I am a harried urban professional 40-something who finds it challenging to build daily exercise into my life.  I have always struggled with starting and maintaining a regular fitness routine, but I have also been fairly active - I love to swim and especially to walk – and in the past even walked a marathon and several half marathons.

A little more than two years ago, I went through a health crisis, a year of extreme and unpredictable dizziness (dubbed the "wobbles" by a doctor friend), followed by brain surgery to remove a benign tumor, which cured said wobbles, followed by a prolonged recovery and a long course of antibiotics that completely knocked me flat.  I “self-medicated” my way through my convalescence on a steady diet of French pastries from my local bakery.  I am now healthy, for which I am extremely thankful every day, but I gained weight as I healed and was out of condition.  So last autumn, I started a weight loss plan (for the nth time) and decided to start walking again and promptly twisted my ankle on a crack in the pavement, landing squarely on my knee.  Thud.  My mishap left me with a truly enormous aubergine colored bruise (I looked like Barney the dinosaur from the knee down) and the unwelcome revelation that I had arthritis, which I finally believed and accepted only after looking at an MRI.   

How could I have arthritis?  I survived a brain tumor.  I am young, active and fabulous.  My favorite thing in the world is to hop a plane to London or Paris or Hong Kong or really anywhere, and explore on foot until I’m exhausted.  Arthritis is decidedly un-fabulous and made me feel firmly middle aged and quite grumpy.  I have many adventures ahead of me and I am not ready to let a creaky knee slow me down.  The silver lining in all of this is that I finally decided that I love myself more than I love cinnamon brioche.  I needed to take better care of myself, and I actually found a way.

To help me recover from the knee injury and avoid surgery, my kind, savvy and sensible knee doctor suggested water exercise, which I actually enjoy, once I got past having to don a bathing suit when I felt like a marshmallow.  In the process, I've reacquainted myself with my abs and glutes and am well on my way to having upper arms like Michele Obama’s.  Someday.  After four months back in the pool, I am down two dress sizes and I feel great, and I’ve met some interesting characters along the way.  Water exercise is a great way to get a cardio and strength training workout without putting additional pressure on my knee.  One  challenge is that most water exercise classes are geared to people who don't work during the day.  So I’m on a mission to find challenging classes for busy urbanites of all ages.  Hence this blog.

Metropolitan Mermaid will give readers information on health clubs and pools, as well as profiles and reviews of classes and a little bit of medical and nutritional information for water athletes.

A few notes/rules of the pool:

  • My initial scope is limited to New York City (mostly Manhattan, to start) but I hope to expand my reach.
  • I will do my best to stay up-to-date, but I also have a day job.  If you notice that any information is out of date, please let me know.
  • I am not a fitness professional or a doctor.  Please check with your doctor before jumping into the pool.
  • I welcome comments, but please be respectful of your fellow mermaids and mer-men, and avoid making comments that are confidential, proprietary, false, fraudulent, libelous, defamatory, obscene, threatening, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, infringing on intellectual property rights, abusive, harassing, illegal or otherwise objectionable. (Can you tell I'm a lawyer by day?).  Comments will be screened before posting, and I reserve the right to make you exit the pool.  
  • If you are interested in writing a guest post about a class or activity, please email me.  

I hope you enjoy the blog and the journey.  Come on in.  The water's fine.

- MM

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