Swimming for Fitness
The power of the pool
We spend a lot of time discussing the benefits of swimming, but don’t talk enough about our colleagues and customers that are putting our words into action.
Meet Suzie, a member of our Head Office Support Team who has recently ventured back into the water to keep up her fitness after a back injury.
“After injuring my lower back at the end of the Summer I couldn’t take part in my usual fitness activities. Running and high energy classes like Body Combat and step were now off the cards.
Initially I did nothing. Lots of rest was prescribed, but this soon got boring. I missed the physical and mental effect each session had on me – the stress relief. But I also hated the feeling of doing nothing. Doing nothing was clearly not fixing things.
So, I spoke to the physio, and he recommended swimming and walking. Initially if I’m honest I couldn’t think of anything more dull, but my clothes were telling me I had to do something – fast! Paired with the fact that I worked for a chain of leisure centres, I had no excuse: swimming it was.
My swimming ability was ok. I could swim breaststroke pretty well so decided to take the plunge (excuse the pun) and give it a go. I managed a ½ mile, 32 length first session which I still deem a pretty good first attempt – the sense of achievement definitely outweighed the tiredness and hunger!
Same time next week I increased to 34 lengths, followed by 36 lengths the week after that… you can see the pattern.
After a few weeks I noticed that although I was increasing the number of lengths each week my swim time wasn’t really getting significantly longer, I was just getting quicker. At this point I started using a SWIMTAG wristband so that I could track my swims. They tell you how many lengths you did and in what time, plus a whole load of other stuff I haven’t yet got round to trying.
With a little advice from our Regional Retail Manager and goggle expert, Lara, I purchased some goggles and upgraded myself from bobbing along the surface to swimming with my face in the water. This increased my speed even further and made a massive difference to the way my swim felt – it was now a workout rather than a relaxing swim.
At some point in time, I started really enjoying it, upping my visits to twice a week. I keep it interesting using the SWIMTAG and challenge myself with little personal goals. If I’m short on time (usually because the early mornings take the better of me), I challenge myself to see how many lengths I can get in the time I do have. Or can I get to 40 lengths without stopping?
My record to date is 56 lengths and I’ve now started adding a few lengths backstroke if it’s quiet. I’ve also tried front crawl – total disaster – I think I need a few lessons to get the breathing technique back, but that’s another story.
What I’ve learnt from the experience is that my preconceptions of it being boring or not a good enough workout were rubbish and that you can start from a small number of lengths and build on it quite easily and quickly. Especially if you have suffered from an injury or health condition that limits your other options. I’ve graduated from the slow to the medium lane, and if the fast lane is empty, I sometimes sneak in there 😊. My back is now on the mend, but I’m still going to keep the swimming up at least once a week as it gives me a really good workout and relaxes me.
My advice would be don’t be afraid to give it a try, you’ll be surprised how well you can do.”
If you found this useful, head to our article where we discuss ‘swimming for physical health’.
All of our swimming pools offer swimming sessions on a pay as you go basis which provides a great option for those wanting to give it a try. If you’re ready to commit to a membership, we offer Swim Only options or Premium memberships that give access to the gym and workout classes too.
Use our Find a Centre tool to find your nearest pool and check out their timetables.