As part of my new year’s resolutions to improve my overall health and wellbeing I bought myself an annual membership to a swimming gym. I’m not a great swimmer but I love swimming nonetheless. I may lack speed and technique but nothing beats the calmness I feel from the water element. My astrological sign (Cancer) is a water sign so maybe that’s the reason. What I know for sure is that exercising in the water is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise so I try to use the swimming pool regularly.
Using a public swimming pool does have its downside though. The most annoying part for me is drying my body and hair off after my post-swim shower. It can take almost as long as the actual time I spend inside the pool! Due to my long, thick hair I’m restricted to always using a hairdryer to avoid moisture lingering on for hours, which happens even in the boiling hot Cyprus summers. Like most people, I don’t like my hair looking unruly. Unfortunately, my hairdressing skills are non-existent so in the past (time permitting) I liked to frequent hair salons to have my hair professionally blow-dried. Now that I usually swim between 2 to 3 times a week it simply makes no sense to be paying for a blow-dry that won’t be lasting me very long. Simply put, there’s no return on my investment.
Another thing about using the gym’s swimming pool is that there is no point putting on make-up before swimming (nor is it hygienic). Also, unless I have somewhere specific to go to afterwards (and enough time to get ready), I no longer have the inclination of taking along a makeup bag to “put my face on” so to speak, in front of a live audience.
Yes, I very much am self-conscious when make-up free in public but I decided that as far as swimming is concerned that’s where even I can draw the vanity line. Especially if I happen to go to the pool during the kids’ swimming lessons where dozens of children swarm the locker room with their parents all at the same time fighting for the hairdryers and hogging the mirrors. At those times I cannot wait around indefinitely to fix my face and hair.
So, I’m now avoiding the afternoons entirely and trying the pool at different times in the morning to figure out the best time slot, i.e. the less people the better. Last Wednesday I happened to wake up at stupid o’clock feeling wide awake at 5:45 a.m. so I decided to try the pool first thing and realised that a lot of 30 to 50-year olds prefer to exercise at that time before going to work.
I enjoyed an hour’s swim (I managed 42 laps of breaststroke at my slow pace) and after showering and washing my hair I decided that I didn’t want another completely bad hair day. Besides, I had the whole day ahead of me. So, for a change I took my sweet time drying my hair in sections using one of the hairdryers provided in the locker room. Another lady was doing the same further down from me. One of the gym trainers doing the rounds who was clearly familiar with her asked her why she always spends so much time blow drying her hair when she could let it dry naturally. She explained that she likes to look after her appearance, stated that “those who don’t are not doing so because they’re bored and can’t be bothered” and proceeded to do her make-up.
Hearing her response made me smile. I smiled because I agreed with her. I know that without my hair and makeup in place I can look a right mess and that clashes with my vanity. Some other ladies who soon after started to get dressed in the locker room got chatting to the lady doing her makeup and talk quickly turned to how they also like, when not pressed for time, to put at least some effort into not looking their worst. They all agreed that they like to look nice at work when seeing and dealing with a lot of people and one of them mentioned her elderly mother who is notorious for never leaving the house without her lipstick on which I thought was really cute. She apparently called her once while staying overnight in hospital for an operation to tell her that she forgot her lipstick and needed her to bring it for her as she could not be seen without it by her visitors.
Exercise in general, not just swimming, has it’s beauty challenges but in moving to a healthier lifestyle I have found a few small tricks to make the adaptation to this new regime do-able. I no longer go for the full-on made up look after my swims but I always take with me a few good products to make myself look presentable in the most efficient manner.