You’d never know it to look at me but I’m reasonably fit. Not athletic you understand. I have no actual ability when it comes to sport, but when it comes to taking part there are few people as gifted as me at ‘making up the numbers’.
I’m even a member of a local gym. Sometimes I actually go there.
It’s one of the more budget friendly gyms in Reading. It’s fine, but it’s pretty basic. There is a ‘luxury’ option to the membership however, which I’ve taken advantage of. Although the gym itself is ‘no frills’, for a modest extra premium I get to use the swimming pool, steam room and sauna in the hotel across the road. The hotel isn’t exactly a five star establishment, but after a gruelling workout it’s a genuine delight. I imagine that’s the case anyway. I don’t think any of my gym sessions could be described as ‘gruelling’. Perfunctory is more accurate. Nonetheless I always enjoy my trip to the swimming pool.
Well nearly always.
I really like swimming. It’s the one form of exercise I can do without needing an internal pep-talk beforehand. The trouble is, while I know I will always be able to access the sauna and steam room, I can’t always guarantee access to the pool itself. This is partly because it’s a really small pool, so if there are even a few people in the water, it can be difficult to swim up and down unhindered. More often the issue is that, because the swimming pool is part of a hotel, it’s being used by guests of that establishment, who are there more to relax than to swim, and when there are small children splashing around, it’s a less than ideal environment for a serious cardio-vascular work-out.
I accept all of this – my overall membership costs are pretty low and the occasional inconvenience was implicit when I signed up.
Besides, over time I have managed to work out the times of day when I’m likely to be able to swim without impediment.
The one thing I can’t predict is when there are going to be swimming lessons. This is odd, because you’d imagine that would be something I should be able to predict with reasonable accuracy. But even though the pool is regularly commandeered for swimming lessons for toddlers, there’s no schedule posted anywhere that I can see, and no pattern that I can discern.
I can’t see how it would be beyond the hotel to post a timetable somewhere visible so that I can avoid these sessions but that isn’t my major grievance.
No, my complaint is the nature of these so-called lessons…
For starters the children clearly aren’t swimming at all. The lessons seem to consist of an insipid instructor and several middle class parents standing in a shallow pool holding small children in the water and singing. The children aren’t singing (I’m not certain they’re of the age that they can sing) it’s just the adults.
I’ll grudgingly accept the theory that there is some pedagogical value in this. I’ll also accept that there is possibly some benefit in getting small children used to being in the water (removing the fear etc.).
It’s still annoying, but I’ll admit that maybe, just maybe, there is some developmental value to the children in these activities.
And when they’re singing childhood classics like ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round’ I’m vaguely ok with it. It’s a little contextually confusing, I’m not certain what a bus has got to do with swimming, but it’s a recognisable song with words and actions and though I’d hardly profess to be an expert on pre-school education, it seems to be widely used in that discipline, so why not in a swimming pool?
However, what I witnessed the other day was definitely confusing. I’m really going to need to see the academic research that justifies standing in shallow water and chanting ‘Monkey Monkey Monkey’ for five minutes. Who is benefitting from that?
There wasn’t even a discernible tune…