Most artists need keepers and I’m no exception – according to my husband.

To prove his point, he likes to tell the story of the time we were walking along the Hudson River on what’s now called the “Greenway,” heading to the Boat Basin in animated conversation, and I walked right into a sign. Or I would have if he hadn’t yanked me out of the way.

Because I need a keeper.

I’m happy to concede the point. (Someone has to concede these days…)

Plus there’s all sorts of proof. While doing time in an ashram on Paradise Island in 1987, I climbed into a tiny motorboat which then proceeded to crash full tilt boogie into a 90-foot yacht. In retrospect, it would have made much more sense to have climbed onto the yacht but there was nothing to be done at that point and I ended up with a broken back.

And then there’s the time I decided to go skiing. In my defense, I took a refresher class. And I was on the Bunny Slope. But still, the weather failed to cooperate and the slope froze up and my ski got stuck and my leg spiraled in a totally unpleasing way and I tore everything that could tear in my knee requiring all kinds of surgery and two years of PT proving that skiing was a bad idea and I should have just gone to the spa.

All of which is to say that my husband is right - I need a keeper - and at this point, given all my myriad injuries, I need to swim on a daily basis to function. Only…

(And here’s the point for those of you who’ve been waiting for it.)

Thanks to COVID, you can’t get a lane for love or money!

And yes, I’m a member of the Y. And I love the Y. Frankly it’s the only diverse community I’ve found on the shoreline and it’s staffed by very nice people who try hard to do the right thing. Only COVID has them flummoxed. Yes, they’ve set up stations where you get your temp checked. And they wear masks. And they’ve got arrows on the floor to keep you socially distanced.

But because of COVID, they haven’t been able to figure out how to get a necessary part for their second pool for almost four months now – leaving only six lap lanes per hour. And there were only 12 lanes to start with and hundreds of swimmers. Which means that demand way exceeds capacity. Leading to all kinds of competition for lanes. Forcing the Y to say you have to make a reservation. But somehow in the almost nine months since March, they haven’t been able to figure out how to set up an online system to reserve a lane.

Nine months.

You can make a baby in nine months.

You sure as hell should be able to set up an online reservation system. (Hint – hire a teenager! He/she will get it up and running in 20 minutes.)

Instead it’s a phone-a-thon every Friday morning and no one can get through and I’ve gotten three swim slots in the past three months. And for someone who needs – NEEDS – to swim every day to function, it ain’t workin’.

How to solve this…

For a while there, I swam in the Sound. In fact I swam as late as Nov. 12 because I prefer to swim in the Sound but in case you haven’t noticed, it’s dipped down into the 20s so it’s officially too cold.

And yes, I know, the Naiad of Middle Beach I wrote about last spring is unfazed by cold temps. But my guess is I’d end up with hypothermia and I really don’t want another trip to the hospital if I can avoid it. And my husband looked at me very sternly when I suggested it. And he is always right.

So I looked into wet suits.

As apparently a lot of people are doing because my size in every wetsuit in the shippable United States is sold out.(FYI M.)

Which brings me back to how the hell am I gonna get through this damned winter?

More to the point (because my editor insists on it) how are ALL of us whose pools and gyms and teams and classes are closed gonna get through this damned winter?

Seriously, a body needs to move. Especially as you… ahem… mature. Things begin to sag and creak and groan. The only defense is a disciplined offense of exercise. And with winter approaching and everything closing, I’m running out of options.

(And yes, there’s running but running is no longer an option because of see “myriad injuries” above.)

And yes, walking is nice. But it’s hard to really break a sweat or loosen up the way you do in a pool. And if knees are an issue, walking can really only be a pastime.

Shaking your fist at the television burns a few calories but it’s not really a workout even though it seems to be an available option 24/7.

Biking? Too cold. And yes, I have a stationary bike in the city and we’ll probably hire a van and mask up and go get it but that doesn’t really solve the issue which is how do I swim which is what all the orthos and PTs have prescribed.

“You can’t always get what you wa-ant…”

Which seems to be the bottom-line lesson of COVID. Fine. Noted. But if the Stones told us anything, it was that if you try sometime, you might get what you need.

So how the hell in a pandemic and a financial meltdown and a political crisis, do we get what we need when it comes to working out? Because, you know, first things first.

Answers, people, I need answers.

(Thank you so much for all your emails. Reach me at And find me on Twitter at @epagenyc or on Facebook at ElizabethPage.)

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