I am not necessarily into fitness but I am into wellness. As an #SAgrad, time is precious while trying to balance class and homework with assistantship and practicum. During my first year as a grad student, I had a really tough experience and was having a meltdown almost every day—sometimes in the middle of the office. I needed to do something to focus on myself and to find a space to clear my head.
I’ve always loved being in the water. On my worst days, I started heading to the campus pool to swim a few laps and relax in the hot tub. As I would float on my back or while swimming the backstroke, I stared at the ceiling and reflected on the day, thinking about how I could improve the future. One day when I went for a swim, I noticed a fitness class taking place: Aqua Zumba. That was when my life changed.
Aqua Zumba is very similar to regular Zumba—a class involving fitness dance moves; it’s just slower because of the water and sometimes we use special gloves or foam dumbbells to add resistance. I had a blast dancing in the water and wished I had discovered the class earlier in the semester.
After my refreshing summer internship, I came back to school in a much better mental space. However, I didn’t want to lose my aqua connection. The Aqua Zumba class had been replaced by Aqua Aerobics but that wasn’t a problem. It was a similar class that required more intensive equipment and moves. I put Aqua Aerobics on my calendar and made it the top priority in my week. When I say top priority, I mean top priority. My department and my cohort know that Aqua Aerobics time is sacred to me.
I am not apologetic and if I am on duty on Aqua night, I ask a coworker to hold the duty phone for a few hours. I have skipped or left programs early to make it to Aqua Aerobics on time. My department is large enough that I’m never the only person in charge of an event. I will say no to working an event if it conflicts with my Aqua Aerobics class time. Most importantly, I will not feel guilty about it.
Aqua Aerobics has become one of my quirky identities on campus. I talk about it all the time and constantly pressure my peers and students into attending the class with me. It’s amazing how many people in my cohort and how many students I’ve been able to persuade to attend the class by persistently sharing my passion with them. It’s a blast to see new folks in the pool and I’ve really bonded with some of my staff in the process!
My coworkers know Aqua Aerobics means the world to me. I’ve become a better worker because I unapologetically focus on my wellness once a week. The time belongs to me for an hour and a half. I look forward to a little bit of fitness and a little bit of hot tub time afterward. I haven’t lost any weight and I still can’t run a mile but since making that class a weekly priority, my spirits have been up and my life has been much happier! You don’t always have to be fit to be well.
This post is part of our #SAfit series for April. With the constant hustle and bustle of our profession, we can’t forget to put ourselves at the top of our to-do list sometimes. It is essential that we remember to take time for self care and this series highlights how our colleagues work #SAfit into their lifestyles. This can look different for each of us and your journey is your own. For more info, please see Mandi Stewart’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!