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Well it has been a chilly old week or so, it seems. I have found it hard on the old motivation to get home in the evening and head on out again to the gym, but I have been (mostly) keeping to my rules. I have however been submitting to the lesser evil of doing HIIT repeats on the bike in front of the telly rather than braving the cold and wind to get down to the gym. I noticed the other day on my program sheet that my attendance for the last month has been fairly spotty, so must try to do better on that count this month.

My gym session on the weekend ended up being the occasion of my first little run in ages. I headed out on Saturday afternoon in my gym gear with a jumper. I normally walk to the gym but it was so freezing that I decided I should start my warmup straight away and went for a little run for the kilometre or so that it takes to get to my gym. I think that counts as going for a run.

I had been thinking about regularly using the treadmill to make my ten minute warmup at the gym a short jog. However, I don’t know that I can run on the tready – I feel unco and keep imagining that I am going to trip or fall off or something (things that are not outside of the realm of possibility for me).

The task for this month is to be a bit more intentional about scheduling my workouts in my diary so that I don’t lose track of what I am doing.

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I was not feeling it at the gym last night. I don’t know what it was, but my reps and weights were all down and I was just feeling weak and unenthusiastic. I had to do a heap of switching around because machines or benches weren’t available. When that happens I just move on in the program and go back to it later, but it was really unsettling me last night.

So I stopped counting reps and ended up pulling the plug with 90% of the workout done. I was irritated that I didn’t stay to complete the last exercise, but I would have had to wait for the bench to clear and I didn’t feel like waiting around in a bad mood just to finish that last exercise. So I agreed with myself I could just cut my losses and leave to go home, have some food and curl up on the couch, hopefully to feel more with it tomorrow.

Of course I step out of the gym and it is freaking pouring rain. I had noticed the black clouds while walking to the gym and idly thought to myself there might be thunderstorms and then put it completely out of my mind. I was getting grumpier by the second but the damn rain showed no signs of letting up and in fact there was flash flooding across the road and carpark going on which guaranteed I was going to be *walking in the water* to get home. I decided to go through with it before I was left with the option only of floating home.

With neither umbrella or overgarment, I was the stereotype of soaked by the time I got home. Which was when I realised that the bloody good shower still wasn’t fixed. At that point, I truly decided to cut my losses. Unable to face a crap shower, I reasoned that the rain had probably cleaned most of the sweat off, so I dried myself, rugged up and curled up on the couch in a miserable state.

Which probably you didn’t want to hear all about, so a quick recommendation to salvage the post. After catching the movie trailer the other day, was prompted to go back and read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (link is to the Kindle version which is available for Australian customers). Love it. Gorgeous gorgeous heartbreaking book.

The resistance program that I am reading about has a hard and fast rule about having a protein shake immediately after a resistance workout, with the explanation that it means that your work out has a greater impact than it otherwise would have or some such. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I thought I would get on board with the principle for a trial and see how we go.

I have never been a big fan in the past. Sure I see people with their shakes after the gym, but I didn’t really see the point. Plus I had unfit person’s cringe about doing something that was so obviously something that people who were really into it (TM) did. You know the cringe you get about getting a really flash garmin watch when you are only doing a beginner’s run program, or the one that makes you feel self conscious for doing the Martina Hingis grunts when lifting weights because you obviously are just a try hard.

Anyway, I had one of those cringes about taking shakes, which in true klutz form is destined to overly complicate the process of trialling them, because I will have to deal not only with actual practical considerations but also the imaginary barriers and difficulties that I dream up and which bear no resemblance to reality.

Which is exactly what happened on my first trial after my gym workout last week. I had the powder measured out in one of those mixing cups with the lid. To my eternal mortification, the only mixing cup I had was a Biggest Loser promotional one, but while vowing to tape over the logo for future sessions, I didn’t let it derail me. So I got to the end of my session having had a decent workout with achy bits in all the right places. All I had to do was get to the water fountain to fill up the cup to the 300ml mark. And there was one of the gym attendants (actually the one who did my fitness assessment) who had decided to park himself right next to the fountain. Well in my head I couldn’t possibly let gym guy see me big-noting myself with a Biggest Loser branded protein shake.

So I took an artful wander around the gym waiting for him to move (Don’t mind me, just checking the read out on the elliptical trainer – say, is that weight stack symmetrical?). Unfortunately he seemed not to care (did this guy not have work to do?). At this point if you are wondering why on earth I should think gym instructor guy cares about my protein shake or would even notice, then I will never be able to make you understand. Just accept that it is a sickness and move on.

In the end I had to do a stealth move when he was distracted by another alpha gym user chatting to him. I ducked in quick as a flash and promptly poured twice the amount of recommended water into my shake bottle. But whatever cause VICTORY. And now I only have to manage that at another 50 or so gym sessions and we shall see whether it has an effect.

My initial thoughts? Those shakes are actually pretty tasteless and watery when you get right down to it.

I was sweating by the time I got to the gym last night and was thankful of the air conditioning, which still wasn’t hardy enough to fully filter the heat and humidity out of the air, particularly when you cram in a crowd of sweaty bodies. My glasses fogged up, and not just because of some of the more astounding body shaping.

So my current program exercise-wise is pretty straight forward – resistance training and high intensity interval training. Interestingly enough, the element missing is the aspect of running. I really do like running generally, and will run if I want to or feel like it, but it is not a cornerstone of my program. I choose to run because I like it, and I won’t put too many rules around that. At the moment I am choosing not to run at all, because it is like a fracking sauna out there.

Our vet said the other day that it has been a terrible year for pets with heat rashes and skin irritations largely due to the wet heat. I am well aware of the effects, as Toby the dog shaped boy has always been prone to skin irritations. This summer has been a shocker for the little urchin, particularly when coupled with his more exciteable nature. Of course, when he gets itchy he scratches or chews at himself, more often than not introducing a skin infection which makes him break out in hives. He gets so antsy from the feeling of his skin that he *literally* bounces off furniture (used in the actual sense of the word, not the internet version) as he bolts around the house and garden at light speed trying to outpace the shifty little buggers biting at him.

Of course then we give him the magic vet pill shortly before bed time (just an anti-histamine actually but they are a life saver for the dog boy) and it’s like he is the wile e coyote who has just taken a hit of ACME CALM PILLS – he practically keels over on the spot. But seeing as he is dreadfully uncomfortable and when the dog who sleeps on your bed doesn’t sleep, then you don’t sleep, it would be nice to get past this terrible wet heat.

Plus, I need my glasses to be clear for to looking at teh gym peoples.

Unfortunately it seems wordpress is messing with my security settings, so until I can export this to a different platform, posting will be infrequent. I email myself with posts that I forget to upload and then it seems like it is not worth it because the information has changed.

Okay so my first full week into the new regime and things are going well. I have done week one of C25K. I have been doing some run walk previously, so the hardest thing about it was getting out in the icy rain and cold we have been having. Yesterday after the gym I thought I would walk down the street quickly to get a script filled and it bucketed down. To add insult to injury the chemist was closed anyway, so twas all for naught.

The gym has been fun. I feel kind of lame pretending to be a proper gym person alongside all the hardbodies there, but I don’t really give a toss. It is a council run gym so there is a fair mix of people in any event. I have really appreciated the flexibility of being able to go to the gym or run and switch up what I am doing.

And it is early days, but everything seems to be pleasantly sore and going well so far. I haven’t fallen off the treadmills and I only fell over while running once (and it totally doesn’t count cause nobody saw it).

I know that having my low level of fitness confirmed shouldn’t annoy me, but it does. When I was being committed to things, I remember often feeling like I wasn’t making any headway, but now I have to go and claw back all of the progress that I did make. I could look at it that the very first fitness assessment should be terrible because it makes it easier to show good progress, but I am not really feeling that at the moment.

Anyway, I had my fitness assessment last night at the gym. My measurements and weight was crap, my fitness is crap and it was all a little deflating. The fellow who did the assessment was pretty nice and seemed to understand what I wanted from the program and totally refrained from making fun of my boombah-ness. Will get my routine on the weekend when I am next there, so I will be happy then to just get on with it.

But what I really should be focussed on of course are the fan-bloody-tastic cardio machines with individual television screens, ipod docks and all the whizz bang. With any luck I will be so distracted I won’t even notice all the searing pain and breathlessness and fallingoverness. There’s a plan of course.

So I have some lingering annoyance from the gym assessment the other night. This is why. The person who was doing my assessment was lovely. I explained that since my last program, I had taken up running and told her how much and how often. She made all the appropriate impressed noises. And she designed a program exactly as I wanted – a variety of specific weights for upper and lower body, particularly core strengthening and very little cardio (because I am using the running for that).

So I was really happy until I finished being shown around the new routine and the gym owner (who I normally like) has a look at the program and arcs up that there is not enough cardio in it. Now recently he has mentioned on a couple of occasions that he hasn’t seen me for a while (which is often true – if things get busy, the gym gets visited less frequently). So I just know that he thinks I am slacking off, even though I have told him that I am doing all my cardio on the outside.

He wanted me to justify why I didn’t want to do gym cardio and he was pretty much pissing me off. I appreciate that some people might not push themselves as hard as they should, but I am not friggin one of them!! (at least not this time) If he had done my assessment he would have known all the answers to these questions, but he didn’t and still wanted to make all these assumptions about me, or suggest that if I am self-motivating then I am not doing the right thing. The stupid thing is that he was holding the results of my assessment which were evidence that I was actually doing really well with the whole self-motivating thing. In the end I said something like “We did talk about all this stuff in the assessment, you know.”

Anyway, I thought it was stupid of him. I like him and the other owner, but the reaction to hearing that I was exercising more outside of the gym than inside should have been “That’s great!! Tell us how we can help you achieve your goals.” Instead I was annoyed and less convinced that I will renew after my twelve month membership runs out.

PS. Actually the really funny bit was when my blood pressure was above the level that they like it to be (I am going through a process with my Doc to address this) and he wanted a note from my Dr. I said that he didn’t need a note from the Dr, that I was voluntarily assuming the risk and I was happy to sign any sort of waiver or release that he wanted, and that I would even draft it for him (I am a lawyer). Of course, he said that wouldn’t be necessary.

I had my fitness test at the gym today, which is the first one since I started at the gym (about 2 weeks after I started this whole lifestyle change caper). So, you know how I have been trying to convince myself that even though my weight loss is not lightning quick, I am actually shrinking?

Well, it turns out that’s true!!

For starters, my resting heart rate was down by about 4 bpm since the last time I checked. But the really exciting changes came in my measurements. I should have written them down, but I was kind of reeling from the shock.

Biceps – minus one cm each
Calves – About the same
Hips – for some reason a completely different measurement (suspect that they haven’t got the consistency of measuring spot going with that one).
Boobs – Minus, like, 8cm.
Waist – Minus, 8 or 9 cm
R Thigh – Minus 8cm
L Thigh – minus 10cm (!!! – she measured this one twice)

So howzat, suckers. Kicking arse. (Just a little bit pleased with myself)

So the extra day’s break from running has put paid to my knee soreness, and I am looking forward to going out for a run tonight. Of course, going to the gym is just as likely to result in injury, as I found out during my weight session last night.

I really like my weight sessions. My program was originally designed to have both weights and cardio. Since then, I have rediscovered the joy of running, so don’t feel the need to journey on the boring exercise machines that go nowhere.

As a result, going to the gym only takes half an hour or 45 mins if I am being really slack. Even when I am feeling really unmotivated, I can convince myself to drive two minutes down the road and do weights for 30 minutes. If I feel inspired, I do extra cardio. But most of the time I zip in and do my weights and then zip back out again, leaving me time to cook dinner, watch House (I predict a sexually transmitted disease or undeclared drug usage), reload my ipod and all the other things which would otherwise become excuses not to exercise.

Of course, the gym has its own hazards. I am currently sporting a rather nasty bruise on my leg where I dropped a dumbbell on it. But it was the circumstances surrounding this misadventure that prompted much hilarity from Hub and the Boarder. You see, I was ready to do my dumbbell raises and realised that someone had put the weights back on the rack IN THE WRONG ORDER. The 20kg dumbbells were sitting devil may care right alongside the eights!! So before starting my sets I had to put everything back in the right order, including the one that I dropped on my leg in the process.

A couple of years ago, I had my last fitness kick (before the current one). I knew that I needed to lose weight and get fit but had never quite figured out how to manage it with working full time. When I saw the box seeking business cards from those interested in foundation memberships, I threw mine in. When the call came I went in to see a gym which wasn’t yet open and, thinking that any exercise was better than none, I didn’t allow myself to question whether this was worth it. In the space of half an hour, I had a 12 month commitment, a new backpack and drink bottle.

It soon became clear that this gym was different to my previous experiences. I asked about fitness assessments and programs and was referred to a deal to pay for personal trainer sessions. For my exhorbitant monthly fee, I might have had access to the DVD libary (!!) but I didn’t get a fitness assessment, guidance with a program or anything else that might assist me to reach my goals. I could get access to these things, but only if I were willing to pay another $50 on top of my membership fee – something that I was not willing to do.

The result was that my enthusiasm for the gym quickly waned. It doesn’t take long before getting up early (already against my natural instinct) merely in order to go and walk on a treadmill begins to get old. My membership allowed me to go to any of the gyms in the franchise, but at the time I joined, there were all of two of them.

Ultimately, I was utterly demotivated. There were lots of classes which never particularly enthused me. There were weights but I didn’t really know what to do with them. There was a whole communal shower thing that made me feel absolutely terrible. In total, I went for about 6 months (if that) before losing my enthusiasm totally.

My current gym costs about half the price per month, and includes bimonthly fitness assessments and programs. Sure, it doesn’t have a sauna, solarium, dvd library, headphones built into cardio equipment, multiple classes, barcoded entry or any of the other perks that are offered by one of the foremost fitness franchises in Melbourne.

But it does have one thing that FFF doesn’t (or at least didn’t for me) – people who actually want to help me get fit and lose weight. They remember my name and they are interested in my progress. I have already achieved better results at my gym (plus running) than I did for almost the whole time I was a member of FFF. And don’t even start me on how difficult it was to bloody well quit the gym.