Ottawa

Obese man offers to clean pool for private access

An obese Ottawa man has placed an online ad offering to clean someone's pool in return for the right to swim there, in the hopes of getting in shape without the embarrassment and distraction of swimming at a public pool.

An obese Ottawa man has placed an online ad offering to clean someone's pool in return for the right to swim there, in the hopes of getting in shape without the embarrassment and distraction of swimming at a public pool.

Leslie Duff, 40, describes himself jokingly as a "pretty robust, rotund guy" who is about 5-10 and weighs close to 400 pounds after years of battling with weight problems and depression.

After a difficult five years in which his marriage fell apart and he lost his job as a call centre worker, Duff says mentally he is on the road to recovery.

But his weight continues to be a problem.

"I've always been big and it became exponentially worse at two phases in my life ... when I stopped organized sports and I got into business for myself in the food-services industry [working] at a pizza store," said Duff, who was born in Winnipeg but has lived in Ottawa for the last 20 years.

Leslie Duff says he is hoping for a chance to get in better shape, but would like to do it in private. (Courtesy Leslie Duff)

"During that time I was actually heavier than I am now. My knees are 60 years old, according to my doctor. In my left knee I have bone-on-bone. I have no cartilage left. So it becomes a challenge to find exercise I can actually do," he said.

Duff tried exercising with the Wii Fit video game, but even that aggravated his knee, he said.

Swimming seemed like a good choice, but Duff said he wasn't keen on being at a public pool.

"Because I probably have a low self-esteem there is certainly some general embarrassment walking around a pool," said Duff.

But he said the bigger issue was the distraction of people looking and worrying about what they are saying or thinking takes his mind off what he actually is there to do, which is exercise.

Posted an ad

Duff's solution was to post an ad on Kijiji, offering to clean a person's pool — or do some other agreed upon work around the house — in return for access to a pool.

"In exchange for daily access for 1-2 hours I would be willing to do the required pool cleaning, like skimming and vacuuming. I am willing to consider other forms of trade for the access if cleaning is not what you need," the ad reads.

Duff said he hasn't had any takers since he posted the ad on May 1, and not even a comment directed his way.

"I'm surprised that someone hasn't read it and said 'weird' or replied 'good luck'," he said.

He said people might be hesitant to take him up on the offer because of liability concerns in the event he had a heart attack or an injury or the idea of having a stranger in their backyard. He also said people may simply be turned off by having an obese man in their swimming pool.

But he's hoping someone out there will take a chance on him, saying the opportunity could be life-changing for him and "at the end of the day will make them feel good too."

"I think it would be fun to be a part of that," said Duff.

With files from the CBC's Hallie Cotnam

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