The YMCA that I belong to is set up in a really interesting way. The bank of treadmills is positioned so that they face floor to ceiling windows that overlook the pool. Ah, the pool. When I’m not actually in the pool, I find this to be the next best place to be. I enjoy the distraction. I love watching the old women with their short, white hair, parade confidently down the length of the pool, looking for open lanes, space to spread out. They slide their strong bodies into the comforting and healing waters. There is nothing to slow them down in the pool, no arthritis, no joint pains, no swollen hips, the pool is their fountain of youth.
Today I watched a young mother enter the pool area with her two young children in tow. She was in her late 30’s and looked like the kind of mom who actually played with her kids. She looked like a get-your-hands-dirty, roll-on-the-front-lawn kind of mom. She was not a size 2 in a string bikini, but that’s what’s wonderful about a YMCA swimming pool, you never see bikinis because the women using it are there for themselves, not to impress anyone else.
So there she was, leaning down into the pool. Her legs were strong and fit but her stomach wasn’t flat, she had lumps and imperfections like everyone but she didn’t seem to even notice. She was the picture of health and happiness. She was wearing a bright red Speedo, the kind you wear for a purpose, to actually swim, to jump and dive and splash in. You wear these bathing suits for comfort and functionality, the kind of bathing suits you wore before you were even aware of your own body. Her whole body was solid, the kind of woman who would run a mile for fun, jump in a pool at a pool party because it was hot, wear her hair lose and messy because it saved time. She can keep up with the boys and be proud of the things she can accomplish with her strength and endurance.
These are the kind of women we want young girls looking up to and aspiring to be like. The kind of women who exercise because of the way it makes them feel, healthy and strong, not because it helps them fit into size 6 jeans. It is refreshing to see strong, active women and it inspires me to continue living my life in accordance with these core values. I want to be that young mother, and someday, those older women. I want to put all my energy into every day and sleep peacefully at night, exhausted from the pursuits of my day and the force I breathe into my life.