Let’s say you decide to take a swim. In the early morning light, armed with fresh new goggles and a cap, you hit the pool. Images of Michael Phelps and Dara Torres run through your head. But before you finish the first lap, you can hardly breathe.
Don’t sweat it. “Swimming takes longer to adapt to than any other sport,” says Gerry Rodrigues, a Los Angeles-based swim instructor who’s been coaching for 30 years. Even if you’re a marathon runner or have logged hours on the stair-climber, you have to acclimate to the new breathing pattern swimming requires, as well as the weightlessness the activity causes.
“We’re used to moving our bodies on land,” says Rodrigues, “But we have very little practice moving in the water. So the learning curve increases.”
The good news? Swimming is worth the effort. This full-body workout improves both your cardiovascular fitness and your muscular strength – all while causing no impact shock to your body. (Where do injured runners go? The pool!) And if you swim regularly, you’ll see progress within a month. “Commit to a doing a block of 10 swims over the course of three weeks and you’ll be amazed at the body’s uncanny ability to adapt,” says Rodrigues.