Swimming with the Turtles #FitnessFriday

Diver and turtle

This past December, I had gone to Hawaii for the very first time. Every morning, I would wake up to the sound of the Pacific Ocean rolling and crashing into the beach. It was fascinating to me, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I so badly wanted to play in the Pacific with the turtles, but there was one big obstacle: I could not swim. I had two traumatizing experiences which have left me fearful of deep water and potential drowning. My parents never knew about these situations and it wasn’t something I discussed with many people at all.

I recall one of those accounts when I was in elementary school. I was asked to jump into the deep end of the pool, and as soon as I went under the water, panic set in. I flailed so hard, I managed to keep myself from surfacing. I felt a hand grab my arm and pull me to the surface. That was truly horrifying. The rest of my elementary school swim experience was inconsequential because I could never get over the panic that this situation created in me. By this time I was eleven years old. I had a difficult time navigating what I was going to wear to school every day, much less figure out how to get over my chest palpitations whenever I walked by the deep end of the pool, fearful I would fall in.

Coming back to the present day, I made a decision on the flight home from Hawaii that I was going to sign up for swimming lessons. I’m a fitness instructor focusing on Pilates and Foundation Training. I spend time with my clients helping them understand stabilization and retraining faulty movement patterns in order to achieve their goals of pain free movement. It was time for a dose of my own medicine and let someone help me overcome my limiting obstacle.

As I write this, I have completed my tenth lesson. I have three lessons left. In those ten lessons, I have worked on putting my face in the water. I have glided around on my front and my back, as well as sides. I have worked on treading water and my breathing technique, which is considerably more relaxed. My instructor is always great about checking in with me on my comfort level in the water. It’s only been the last five lessons where I’ve become acquainted with the deep end of the pool. My heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to leap out of my chest anymore. In fact, I am thoroughly enjoying this cardiovascular challenge. I had an epiphany during lesson six. I was trying to sink down and pick up weighted rings off the floor in the shallow end. I would not stay down in the water. I kept popping back up to the surface. After my third try, I exclaimed to my instructor, “Why am I so freaked out about sinking to the bottom of the pool, if I can’t even get DOWN there to begin with?!”. He just smiled at me, and said, “Exactly!”. You could have explained that to me a hundred times over, but until I experienced it myself, I would not have believed anybody. My personal resolve to overcome a lifetime fear, has helped me understand the conception of it, and more importantly how to conquer it. In my case, fear was created by situations beyond my control (at the time), and dictated so much of what I sought in physical activity. Fear is psychological, and once I really examined that and decided to make a change, doors opened in my mind. This has reinforced my efforts in reaching out to others who have had negative experiences with fitness, to help them see that with the right guidance and understanding, their goals too can be achieved. In light of my own endeavour, I will not tell you this is an easy task, but I am confident in helping people understand that success is a process and because there will be missteps, it does not make the effort a failure. I’m always seeking improvement, both in my personal fitness and instruction technique for Pilates and Foundation Training.

This week, I think my instructor wanted me to channel my inner seal by swimming underwater to retrieve multiple rings on the pool floor. I’ve almost got that mastered, and you know what? I love it and I’m having fun too! I do everything but bark like a seal going under the surface. My instructor is so pleased he told me that next week, he’s tossing the rings down in the deep end!… *deep breath*… No problem!! The next time I go back to that beach in Hawaii, I will be swimming with the turtles!



Eva Quan
Pilates Instructor

Eva experienced her first Pilates Mat class in 2001. Pilates was a method that she would revisit repeatedly through the next seven years in order to address specific postural and strength imbalances, as well as old injuries. The strength and wellness that Pilates brought to her physique convinced her to explore, and ultimately pursue her Instructor Certification. Eva has been teaching Pilates full time since 2009. In addition to her Mat & Reformer Certification, she has completed the Injuries and Special Populations Course, and numerous auxiliary workshops to complement her teaching practice. (BOSU, Jumpboard, Stability Cushions, Osteoporosis & Scoliosis Management) Eva is an enthusiastic advocate for Pilates as a complement to strength training activities, or as part of a post-rehabilitative program.

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