I’m always ready to join in new experiences in Italy, and my last visit found me attending a session of exercises in water for women of a certain age. It was in a spa hotel where the naturally hot water flows into two pools, one outdoors and one in. This water is hotter than bath water, at 37 centigrade, so when we were asked whether we preferred the outdoor or indoor pool, I naturally expected to go outside.
“Too cold” was the majority verdict as the air temperature was a mere 25.
I was introduced to our instructor, whom everyone called Maestro. I thought such titles were reserved for people who had distinguished themselves in the arts, but here was this plump man in a vest and nylon shorts with a large gold crucifix round his neck. He instructed us from the side, with 20 movements for each limb. It soon became apparent that the women really came to gossip and were’t remotely interested in the exercises. When the maestro asked how many they had done they invariably answered “19” and carried on talking.
The most challenging exercise was to sit on a “salami”, a cylinder of foam rubber, and make bicycling movements. Most of my fellow students fell off with great merriment and the maestro lost control of his class.
Did I feel more supple as a result of the exercise? I think I did. The hot water was soothing, but exhausting. In the end I think the session offered more entertainment value than therapy.