The Process of Aging

I try to swim two times each week. Usually, my swim days are Monday (or Tuesday, if I miss Monday) and Friday. If I leave my house just after 5:00 I can be in the Bath Area Family YMCA pool around 5:30-ish.

For a guy who never thought he could learn to swim, let alone swim well enough to complete triathlons, this has been a revelation. It’s taught me to never underestimate your ability to learn new tricks, even when you feel like an old(er) dog.

Actually, age is relative, or that’s what the salesman is now selling. What, with all the talk about 60 being the new 40, Botox treatments, and Google—shoot, they’ll probably eradicate death one of these days. Or, maybe not.

One thing about the Bath Y, and likely at every other workout/fitness facility is that the early crowd will be a bit older. I learned that a few years back when I used to show up at Planet Fitness in Auburn at 4:45, and the regulars were already hard at it. Since Planet Fitness opened at 4:30, you could get in a good workout and still be at the office well before 8:00 AM.

Most of the PF crowd were my age, or a bit older, which put them in their late 40s and early 50s. There were also some amazingly fit 60+ fitness fanatics up at that time of the day, getting their workout in.

Occasionally, I’d miss my morning workout and have to hit PF at lunch, or later in the day. At those times, the demographic was cut in half, especially after 5:00 PM. That’s when the younger set showed up. Working out wasn’t the primary purpose, or so it seemed. It was more about wearing the right outfit, and mainly showing off one’s tats and body parts.

The Bath Y reminds me of those early morning workouts at PF. Plus, since there is a therapy pool, a sauna, and a hot tub, the Y attracts a demographic oriented to seniors in the early AM.

What’s become one of the perks of these early morning swims has been being able to wind down with 10-15 minutes in the hot tub, before showering and heading for home.

I love the hot tub. My legs and hips usually ache after umpiring, or running (I try to time my runs so that they happen the day before a pool visit), so the hot tub is welcome post-swim.

Sitting in the hot tub usually leads to conversation, and I’ve learned a bit about a few fellow tub-sitters, including one man named Bob. He’s in his 80s, has MS, and comes to the Y Monday through Friday with his wife. Both of them walk the upstairs track, Bob with his cane, and his wife with a walker. They then spend time in the therapy pool, and Bob ends up in the hot tub.

I’ve always appreciated the stories that seniors tell. It probably was something I learned growing up with grandparents nearby. I also was taught to respect what elders had to say—that it likely contained nuggets of wisdom.

When I see Bob, hunched over, with an 80-year-old’s body (one not touched up with Botox or other Hollywood enhancements), I realize I’m getting a look at what I might look like in another 30 years. I hope I’m motivated to keep moving and work through any health issues I might have when I’m Bob’s age.

I’ve told Bob that he’s my motivation on mornings when maybe I don’t want to go to the pool, knowing he’s going to be there. I’m not sure if he believes me, but it’s true. He is an inspiration and someone I’ve learned from, watching how he carries himself, how he exudes positive energy and never complains, and always shows up for his workout.

That’s one of the realities of aging that resonates with me because it’s authentic and real.

4 thoughts on “The Process of Aging

  1. Kudos to you on the swimming program and I’m glad you’ve made friends with Bob. The “new 40” article is interesting, with the relativistic approach “it’s all relative, if I feel like I’m 40, I am 40.”

  2. “You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be afraid of?”

    Not at all appropriate, and entirely appropriate, too. Funny, though, how much crap I get when I follow certain dietary and exercise practices because I want this rental car to run as well as possible until I have to turn it back in.

  3. Great summary, Jim. The real kicker comes when someone asks you (after a run or walk),
    “how’s it going young fella!” Pisses me off somehow.

Comments are closed.