The Water Warrior: A Fuhr-y of Fire and Water

The Water Warrior: A Fuhr-y of Fire and Water

 

As Jan and I arrive at Hyde Creek Recreation Centre for our Friday morning aquafit session, and just as we open the car door, we can hear the regular hard bass thump thump thump of music coming from a vehicle nearby.

 

Instantly our elderly minds flash back to the glory days of our teens when we, too, cranked up the music, especially the bass, to go spin crazy with the excitement of good old rock and roll!

 

The music is coming from a grey van, whoops, I think we now call those mini-vans.  We see the driver bopping her head and shoulders up and down like a wild woman at a cannabis scented rock and roll concert. We look closer and see she is stogie-free — a little different from our younger days! We smile and she rolls down the window to shout:  I live for my music!

 

We turn to her and say: What? We can’t hear you!

 

The driver is our aquafit instructor, the water warrior, and based on her vast array of wild and loud songs in her pre-recorded repertoire that we experience once a week in the pool, it is clear that her love of music transcends the aquafit part of her life.

 

When I told her I was going to write a short story about her, it seemed like she looked perplexed wondering why on earth I would want to do that. If I could have gotten her to stand still for a few moments, while she was working the second class of the day, I would have told her she seems like a very interesting, wild, energized, bold, fearless, sentimental, loving, caring person who probably eats spits, swears a lot, chews gum, lives in a forest and yearns to resurrect the glory days of her parents’ lifestyle of the 50s and 60s! This lady, who is also a Pink fan by the way, has spunk and she is a “Fuhr-y” of boundless energy and creative intrigue!

 

How did I figure that out?

 

Well, I have experienced her character for almost a year. I was a newbie to the class. It seemed everyone loved her and many of the aquafitters seemed to know a lot about her.  I knew nothing about all but one person in the class, so I became attentive to things about this aqua-warrior like her hair, tattoos, and outfits; her program, commanding voice, and energy level; her comments and gestures, and her favourite upbeat familiar music — okay, not entirely familiar to some of us since most of us are in our 50s or higher and stopped paying attention to what we call new age stuff!

 

 

Before and after class, people talk to her and sometimes I catch snippets of what is said. At other times during the pre-class sessions in the pool and after classes as well, people talk and reference things like the music selection, the intensity of the program, her happy demeanour, marital status, hair styles, possible age, family life, residency, past achievements, interests and maybe some other stuff— you know, the kind of thing people do to make conversation! When you piece all of that together, you can paint a pretty complete portrait of the person that others, including her own Facebook postings, have sketched. 

 

So, here is how it all begins:

 

At the start of every class,  our Water Warrior gets the attention of the aquafitters by shouting out a big, bold good morning everyone!   The chatter-filled crowd suddenly stops talking and turns to the front of the pool, to give her their undivided attention —okay, most of us do; some of us take a bit longer!

 

She always uses those first couple of moments to make an announcement or to remind us that we know our bodies best so just do as much as we think we can handle. People like me need to be pushed a little harder as the least amount of effort seems to be my default level!  Some guy told me once that every move is a good move — I seem to have let that one stick!

 

Then the Warrior presses a button on her smartphone and the loud, upbeat music begins.  Everyone jumps with excitement and follows her lead. We all try our best to keep up and just like kiddies in kindergarten , we don’t want to disappoint the teacher — well, most of us don’t, but having been a teacher, I like to use this opportunity to not follow instructions with an aim to being a little disruptive — I must be getting back at someone like that teacher who once actually gave me a detention for being disobedient!

 

To me, yes, every move is a good move, but some I like more than others. Sometimes I am just not ready to switch and since my body is totally immersed in the water, nobody can actually see what moves I am making. The important thing is that I move. The other problem is that sometimes I find it hard to do something with my arms and my legs at the same time, plus make sure my head is up and back is straight — oh yeah, then I also need to remember to breathe. I think all of that falls under the multi-tasking category — if the scuttlebutt is correct, our Water Warrior is a mother, wife, daughter, sister and daughter in law, so when you have all those multiple and important roles to fit into one’s life, and all that pressure to perform to perfection, I guess a collection of various moves comes easily. I look around and see few people are struggling, so I divert to singing and making sure every move is a good move, since everyone else must have years of experience as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, (or husband, son, father, brother) in law, or micro-manager. I missed most of those steps. 

 

Our Warrior has a low level of tolerance for chatterboxes in the pool but she loves to sing.  Thankfully my singing does not annoy her; in fact, she loves it when people sing along with her. I just wish more of us would.  We are a great group of people and could be easily trained to even do one of those entertaining Flash Mobs sometime down the road. I am trying to get others into the swing of singing along with The Monkeys, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Neil Diamond and Heart — but few takers so far.

 

Something else 60s-ish about her is that she was (perhaps still is) an avid roller derbyist. The pictures on Facebook tell me that she gets all decked up in all of the gear and fearlessly strides, and does whatever is needed to win.  She definitely has spunk! 

 

Some of the pictures I’ve seen make roller blading (or is it roller skating) look like something rough and relentless — almost like wrestling matches, but she is fearless and totally into doing whatever needs to be done. Her energy level is limitless on the track which accounts for her high expectations of her everyday, ordinary, moderately energetic aquafitters who do the best they can while she encourages more effort. She nudges us really well sometimes, but doesn’t push us. We love the accompanying facial expressions, wimpy gestures and occasional whispery snide remarks —when we don’t seem to strive to reach higher levels of efforts. The feedback she gets is usually a chorus of smiles and chuckles, plus comments like I am not looking at you! or  I can’t hear you! Can you feel the anarchy?

 

Ironically the roller-team name of Anarchy Angels is familiar to her. I am not sure if she and her teammates made that up as a name to best reflect who they love to be, or it is a longstanding roller derby team name that she stepped into very comfortably. I know she naturally flips out when stuck behind a slow driver in a passing lane or tries to make sense out of the new laws about who can and who cannot use that second or third lane. I can hear the very frequent: HELLO, what the *&?%#!, perhaps followed by an angelic smile? Don’t get her going about roundabouts!

 

The Water Warrior is definitely a very interesting character with a diverse lifestyle. She is a strong and tough small town girl who ventured out into the big city life, but still embraces the pleasures and captivating elements of her upbringing. Her last name has German roots and actually means fire. She is a stand tall and be proud kind of girl; she is a no nonsense, get the job done kind of person — kind of like cut the bull and tell me what you really think because that is what you will get from her. 

 

As she proudly and confidently says to me: what you see is what you get!

 

She is a truly natural, no bullshit gal; bold and vivacious; interesting and inspiring; encouraging and enlightening.

 

Her enthusiasm at the pool makes our bodies move in ways some of us never imagined — from kickboxing, to striding, to squatting and raising our arms high up into the air, and bringing them down into a warm satisfying embrace. Our Water Warrior, Chantelle Fuhr, loves her job and her aqua-followers, and her strong, proud “Fuhr-y” nature has made a world of difference in the lives of probably the biggest and most popular aquafit class any of us has ever seen.