I’ve gone to a Gold’s Gym 25 of the first 29 days since taking advantage of my office’s discounted rate. Prior to joining, I was very worried about my health. I was spending every day doing nothing but sitting. I would try to get a jog in here and there but I vehemently despise jogging and running, it’s too hot to do so, and something always winds up hurting a block from home, whether ankle, shin, or pride. I polled Facebook friends on my jogging pains and several recommended swimming instead. Those people were right.

If you knew me in my childhood, you would know how freaking terrified I was of the water. I believe I failed swimming lessons year after year and eventually fell into the class below my sister two years younger than me, and she wasn’t a particularly brave swimmer either! I literally nearly drowned a lifeguard waiting for me in the water when forced to jump off the diving board once. Even when I was doing my swim test at Nesodak summer camp I was unable to tread water but found a rock in the middle of the lake to stand on to pretend like I was treading water in order to pass the swim test. But eventually I grew out of that phase and came to enjoy swimming.

Swimming laps every day has worked some wonders for me. It is getting my heart rate up and working every major muscle group but at the same time I don’t put any stress on any joints. My energy level is almost too high now–coming back to the office has me bouncing all over the damn place and rather chatty. If I were able to go straight home afterwards I’d get a lot of housework accomplished! My weight has gone down a little (3-5 lbs.) but I think it’s more about toning the muscles and being heart-smart. I’ve also noticed my mood has drastically improved after a good swim and it seems to make the workdays go faster.

I tend to swim to one end of the pool and back 10 times which takes about 25 minutes, with time to stop and catch my breath after every lap. I think it’s actually helpful for burning calories that I don’t know the proper way to swim; instead of jetting down the pool like the pros in their swim caps alongside me, I’m flailing my arms and legs like a rag doll which undoubtedly burns more calories. I’ve picked up on some technique tips lately and have drastically improved upon my freestyle form, but it doesn’t get the heart rate up as high to do it the right way. I’m hardly even having trouble catching my breath when I swim properly. I will mix it up on occasion with the backstroke but today I lost track of where I was in the pool and slammed my head into the pool wall. Yowch!

One final nice thing about it is so few people at the gym swim for exercise. On a typical day from 12-1:00, there are easily 120 people there, but only 1 or 2 using the pool, and it’s the same few every time. The two Gold’s Gyms I’ve visited each have very small pools–like 2 or 3 swim lanes–and I’ve only once had trouble getting in right away.

I was very sad that when I left Callaway that meant giving up that nice little on-site gym, but really all there was was an elliptical machine, treadmill, and rower. I would have never rediscovered the joys of chlorine!

So in short, if you have access to a lap pool, I would highly recommend it for your physical and mental health. I have struggled for years to find some form of exercise that I don’t hate, and I think I’ve found it. Oh, and wear goggles. I wasn’t wearing goggles at first and that’s not smart.