The swimming pool at the gym attracts shleppers and the very fit. You get the arthritic, the obese, the elderly and of course, the magnificent. The magnificent tend to come early in the mornings or evenings. The aqua aerobics class meets mid-morning.
The conversation in the pool during aqua aerobics – and there’s lots of it; those sixty and above are chatty – is mostly about illness, death, and grandchildren. They know one another and their ailments well. Somebody stopped eating recently and has lost a lot of weight: things don’t look too good for her, so I’ve heard. Sometimes people drop out of the class. They never come back.
When I had sports shoes – I left them on holiday somewhere, and I hope one day to get another pair – I used to do the middle-aged class, or ‘Keep Fit’, as it’s rather optimistically called. There’s a guy there with a moustache that he dyes black. He puts everything he’s got into running around the track, mostly finishing first. Of course it’s not a competition. In that class, we discuss the weather, property renovations and our children. Some days one of us has an injury. We take surreptitious rests from the weights.
One evening I got the times confused and ended up doing a four-star track class. Everybody was stringy, lean and below thirty. They’d come straight from work but were pepped and raring to go. They sweated profusely and didn’t care. The competition was very fierce and nobody really spoke to anybody else. After forty five minutes I’d had enough – there’s only so many times you can around a gym – but the instructor congratulated me, and said I’d done very well. Nobody noticed me leaving.