Barbara's Story

It’s interesting, possibly tragic, how a silly social inhibition can keep you from doing the right thing.

Like so, so many others, I have a body image issue. I have bulges and scars that look better covered up. In a world that worships beauty, I hate the way I look in the mirror.

I used to love to walk with friends before my failing health prevented me from doing so. Now my knee hurts so bad anymore. “Exercise hurts,” I said, honestly. “I’m in no shape to exercise,” I joked, gallows humor. My daughter did not laugh.

“Exercise doesn’t hurt when you’re in the water.” my daughter assured me. I didn’t believe her, she’s my daughter.  Actually, I knew she was right. She said she’d start exercising with me, but I’m not so sure.

I’d been having my hair done by Perry for almost 30 years. He was always trying to get me to get in the pool, but I was always reluctant.

One day though, I was in so much pain I admitted to myself that I was finally going to have to get in the pool. Perry was thrilled to hear that after he’d urged me to do so for more than a year.

Freshly coiffed, he showed me what classes I should take and how to sign up for them on the tablet by the front desk. It was super easy even though I am not very techy.

We went out to the pool and watched a class. They were enjoying themselves, working out, and nobody’s hair was wet. “Well,” I thought, “if they can enjoy themselves in there, why can’t I?”

It still took my daughter some time to convince me that being embarrassed in a bathing suit is silly. I remember Perry saying “Vanity kills”. Well if there was any chance I was going to be in less pain I was going to do it.

I wasn’t sure how much exercise I could take. I still thought exercise hurts and I’m in no shape to exercise!”

“Oh, hush,” my daughter smiled. “Let’s get in the pool!”

The water felt good! A half-hour of exercise did not hurt, at all! The water makes all the difference!

My classmates - all of them friendly, helpful, and happy - made it all fun! They even convinced me that it was safe to move into the deeper end of the pool for part of my first class. “Miracles aplenty, here in Paradise,” I smiled, as I followed them.

It all seems so long ago, now. The other me, painfully self-conscious, so reluctant to take the plunge into a healthy lifestyle, is gone. Long gone!

Remember how I could barely walk at the beginning? I can take walks, with my friends, again! Some of them are my new friends, who I met at Paradise.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new, leopard print swimsuit, and strutted around for my friends to admire! Me! Modeling a swimsuit!

A year or so ago, I had started out with a half-hour class. Now, I’m at Paradise three times a week, for the hour-long sessions. And, remember, I’m the one who was afraid to go into the deep-end of the pool, and now it’s no problem.  Honestly, I feel young again!