“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours” – Richard Bach

Cambridge Healthworks members: Did you know that your Healthworks membership gets you into the J.F. Kennedy School pool for just $3? The opportunity to use this pool is also available to Somerville residents at a discount.

I’ve wanted to try swimming as an exercise for a while, but had my doubts about getting started. I’ve never been much of a swimmer – I have the basic strokes down, but I’m slow as molasses with an irrational shyness around lifeguards, which had always hindered me in the past.

After suffering a fall on my bicycle during a ride on the Minuteman Trail this past weekend, my knee has been bruised and sore, so I decided to overcome my intimidation and take advantage of my access to this challenging, low-impact exercise. Excited by the prospect of a new exercise in my routine, I went shopping for a swimsuit (on sale at CitySports Boston right now), goggles, and the mandatory swim cap. My expectations were low – I figured about 4 minutes of breast stroke would leave me wiped out.

The pool lanes are separated into slow, medium, and fast, so there is little need to be worried about your speed in comparison with other swimmers. I showed up for the 6 p.m. start of evening adult lap swimming, and found it to be un-crowded, and unintimidating. Turns out, at almost 30 years old, I really don’t have to be worried about the judging eyes of lifeguards, or how slow my stroke is. And lo and behold, I ended up swimming for 35 minutes! Varying the strokes and pausing to catch my breath between laps helped to lengthen my endurance. I also tried using the kickboard for a few lengths of the pool – a serious leg workout. I looked to these pool workouts for varying skill levels from Fitness Magazine, to help me get started. The time went by quickly, as it usually does when you’re trying something new and are pacing yourself without judgment. I left feeling both tired and refreshed, and happy to have challenged myself with something new.

It’s nice to be reminded that  expectations for yourself can always be surpassed!