Monday, September 22, 2008

Trendsetter in Aquatic Fashion

I’ve started swimming in the mornings. I’d like to say I chose swimming because it is a fantastic full-body cardio workout (which it is) but the truth is that it seemed like the best way to avoid REAL exercise. It was the path of least resistance, which tends to be my MO in life. I can’t run 10 yards without shin splints, and the only reason I’d run anyhow is if it involved a ball of some sort. Maybe if a murderer was chasing me. But my heart was set on getting back in shape after spending some time with some old friends that looked bloody fantastic. I went ahead and bought a suit that would fit someone of my girth and didn’t hug my junk like the salmon-colored disaster I’d been wearing. I’d post a picture, but take my word for it…you don’t want that image in your head. No sense in showing how God short-changed one of His children.

My first morning swimming I figured I would go in at 6:00. No one would be there that early and I’d be able to have the pool all to myself. I woke up at 5:30, grabbed my gear and headed out. “An awful lot of cars here for 6 a.m.” I thought to myself as I parked the car. “Prolly playing basketball or something.” Nope…the pool was completely full of die-hards; there wasn’t a single lane out of six that wasn’t occupied, four of which had two swimmers already. Inconvenient, but I was determined to get my body back, and swimming was the answer. I took off my shirt, unveiling my rotund mass of torso with chest hair that oddly makes a perfectly shaped Austin Powers heart, slapped on my goggles and eased my way into the pool.

I took swimming lessons when I was eight years old, so naturally I knew what I was doing, but I figured I would watch some fellow aquatic pros just to make sure memory served. “Yep, stroke-head up-inhale-stroke-head down-stroke-exhale-stroke-head up-inhale-stroke-head down-stroke-exhale-stroke. Oh, I’ve got this.” I took a big breath, put my head underwater and kicked off of the wall. I stroked twice and tried to exhale, but for some reason I couldn’t force the air out. I think there is some sort of innate human instinct that when the body is underwater, and there is air in the lungs, the brain tells the body to KEEP THE FREAKING AIR IN. So when I rhythmically pulled my head up to breath, I already had two lungs completely full of air. Instead of inhaling I made a noise that had to have sounded something like a frog being squeezed by a violent patient at a mental hospital, then rhythmically put my head back down underwater. I tried to exhale again…., then panicked. When my head came back up I tried to breathe out as hard as I could then inhale…all while above water, but the inhalation part didn’t really happen until my pie hole had already hit the water, bringing in massive amounts of water into my lungs. I immediately came up out of the water, flailing around like a half-eaten Jaws victim. Both lifeguards actually awoke from their typical 6 a.m. slumber and were rushing toward me. I waved them off as if I knew what the hell I was doing. They hesitantly stopped and walked backwards toward their chairs while I hung from the pool wall for dear life. I had gone a grand total of 3 meters, or 4 freestyle strokes before I almost died in the water.

For 3 days I tried to swim conventionally. I admittedly got a little better, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. Let me be clear here…I don’t care about learning how to swim. I don’t want to be Michael Phelps. I just want to work my body without having to run or allowing other eyes to actually SEE what my body does when it isn’t motionless. It’s a terrifying sight. So I decided to go out and buy a mask and snorkel.

My mom tells a story of taking her one-and-only little brother, Trent, skiing. I don’t think he had ever been before, and my mother wasn’t really a pro either (a story for another post) so he didn’t come properly dressed or geared. I’m not sure what he was wearing, but he must have stuck out like a sore thumb because everyone else on the slope was pointing and laughing at Uncle Trent. Now, Trent was an all-star multisport athlete, tough as nails, and wasn’t used to being laughed at. In a loud voice he glared in the direction of the peanut gallery and said, “Excuse me, I didn’t know this was a blankety blankin’ fashion show.” The laughter immediately ceased as the hellfire burned in Trent’s eyes. This was the approach I took to my snorkel swimming. This isn’t a blankety blankin’ fashion show. I don’t care if I look like a frogman or a pervert in the water. I’m here for one reason only…to avoid real exercise and do me some swimmin’.

I’ve been snorkeling it up now for about 4 weeks and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been close to 8 years since I’ve actually done any exercise or active sport at all. My first time in the snorkel I was only able to go one length of a 25 meter pool before I had to stop and suck air like there wasn’t enough in the room for everyone. Now I’m to a point where I go pretty hard for 30 minutes without stopping. I never weighed myself to start, but dress shirts are fitting like they never had before and my jeans are noticeably loose. And more importantly I feel really good.

When I arrived at the pool last Thursday I noticed not one, but TWO other snorkels in the water, one of which belonged to a guy that had been breathing conventionally since I started swimming. There’s something to be said for thinking outside the box. I’m a trendsetter baby. Before long there will be dozens of multi-colored tubes sticking out of the water at Gene Fullmer Fitness Center, and they will all look to me as their leader.


Mandy said...

Totally a trendsetter! I would snorkel too, if I went swimming, that is. Thanks for the laugh... and now I have to go get those images out of my head. Thanks. What you need is a gallbladder attack. I think Jason has lost about 20lbs in the last week.

Snyder-mom said...

Thanks for the laugh Tyler. I was having a pretty rough morning, and you just put a smile back on my face. Maybe next time you should bring those little sticky fish that you put on the bottom of the bath tub. You know just for some scenery. The other snorkelers might enjoy them too.

Anonymous said...

Funny, that's exactly the timeframe when I signed up for new Kung Fu classes--with the exact same motivation. I can't seem to motivate myself unless there's an externally set schedule so swimming wouldn't have worked for me.

Anyway, been going four weeks like clockwork now and I'm feeling better, though I haven't actually lost any weight.

Tyler said...

Maybe not, prez, but you can snatch a pebble from your master's hand. I have this vision of you sparring against 4th graders and pwning their faces in, like Dwight in The Office.

Martial arts has to be an awesome workout. By the way, how is RB 2?

Anonymous said...

I'll bet I could take the 4th graders... Sadly, I'm only going to the adult classes :(.
And yes, it's an excellent workout.

As for RB2, it... Rocks! There are a handful of crap songs (we needed another Beastie Boys song?!?) but there's some real gems there as well. Plus, I'm up to expert on most songs on the drums--not a real drummer like yourself, but maybe some day...

Sister said...

Brother- I think you are brilliant! Granted I don't think I would choose the form of exercise that required the least amount of clothing. You are going to be looking hot in that Snorkle in no time.