Monthly Archives: July 2010

Making the Gym Work For Me

My downfall in working out is that if it’s not running, I have no idea what I’m doing. Lifting weights? Yeah I know bicep curls. That’s it. Compound cardio moves? I got lunges.. that’s about it there. What I love so much about workout DVD’s is that the instructor tells you what to do, and you get your butt kicked simply by following directions.

When instructional workout DVD’s are not possible in your own home due to whatever circumstances–not enough space, too many people around, anal neighbors, you don’t have any DVD’s, you don’t even like workout DVD’s–the gym is a great option. Not the whole treadmill free-weight machine part of it, but the classes.

I realized that my gym is doing all the work for me. The way their morning class schedules are set up, all I need to do is show up at 6:30 or 6:45 everyday and have someone kick my ass for an hour. How did I never realize this before? Just show up! And someone will tell me what to do! Glory!

Here’s the available classes:

I need the classes to start before 9am if I’m going to get to work on time, so the ones in green circles are what works for me. This week I did Total Body Conditioning on Tuesday and Ultimate Conditioning on Thursday (Wednesday was spinning fail, and my realization happened on Monday :)).

On a side note, I know a lot of people don’t like group exercise because it can be embarrassing if you feel insecure about what you’re doing. Trust me, I always look like an idiot. I also make weird faces when they make me do shoulder exercises. It’s like my lip is attached to my shoulder, and whenever I lift it I snarl like Elvis. This is not attractive. Not at all. But I don’t know anyone in the class and therefore I don’t care. I will be Elvis, and I will get buff.

Walking Makes a Difference

Before I reacquainted myself with the gym, oh, say, 2 days ago, I was in a bind. I couldn’t workout to DVD’s in my apartment, and I was averse to running due to scares about ruining my knees, and also a pulled groin muscle (that’s a whole different story I won’t even get into). With nowhere to turn, I was waking myself at 6am anyway with an urge to do something, anything, to get my blood flowing and stop the mel-ooze from taking over my body.

I thought, what about walking?

I’ve read in countless articles over time that the simplicity of walking is actually a very underrated tool in our arsenals. When the NY Times wrote a recent article about how French women stay so thin, the #2 reason was because they walk everywhere (#1 reason was portion control). People who preach the primal lifestyle –great article here–talk about sustaining man’s naturally fit frame through simple, yet impactful long walks (mixed with the occasional sprint in this case). These are just two great examples of many.

not knockin you, footlocker. just sayin.

If I think about my mindset a year ago or more, I would’ve never subscribed to the idea of walking as true exercise. At the end of a workout, my face had to turn bright red and I had to be so out of breath that I only wanted to collapse and yell mercy, or else it was a crock (when’s the last time you said the word crock? Just now.). But I guess I’ve opened my eyes a little bit, and relaxed my idea of what it means to get exercise. It doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. In fact, something is always better than nothing, which I find myself saying a lot in my posts these days.

Last week I woke up and went walking almost everyday. It felt glorious! Walking is a whole different way to experience being active. I was able to breathe the air in fully, and hold it in for a second before letting it out. My lungs weren’t under serious attack like they are during a run, they (my lungs) were enjoying themselves. I saw my environment in more detail–noticed restaurants and stores, the architecture of buildings, whole streets I would’ve run right past and not even known they existed. I got home so excited some days I had to call my boyfriend to rant about “the great walk I just went on.”

And you know what, I felt just as accomplished and fresh for the rest of the day as I do when I run. Walking is like a bottomless stack of get-out-of-jail-free and collect $200 cards.

Ever try it?

Gym Time Hath Cometh

This morning I did it.

I ran on a treadmill.

For the first time in six months.

But it wasn’t my original plan.

The goal this morning was to get to the gym for a 6:30am spinning class. At 5:45 my alarm went off, and I dutifully got my ass out of bed and jumped into my workout clothes. La ti da, pull my hair back in a ponytail, la ti da, throw today’s clothes in my gym back. As I pick up my bag to leave my apartment, I catch a glimpse of the clock on my microwave, and it’s 6:07. Aah! Two La-ti-da’s and I’m late?! I realized there’s no way I would make it.

I booked it out the door regardless, speedwalked to the train, and arrived only to see the next 6 train wasn’t coming for another six minutes. The time at that point was 6:26. FAIL. What a bummer. Besides the fact that I wasn’t going to the make the class, I was also exhausted from such an early wake-up. I debated “if I go back home now, I can go back to sleep til 8!”. But why waste how far I’ve come (note: I didn’t really come that far)? Why throw away my butt-crack-o-dawn action, when that extra 45 minutes of sleep won’t even really refresh me?

So, I went to the gym anyway. I told myself that something is always better than nothing, and accepted the fact that this meant I would be on… cough… coughcoughcough… the treadmill. DREADMILL.

Boldly going nowhere. Good shirt.

I got to the gym, threw my bag in a locker, and headed downstairs to the cardio room. As I reached the bottom step, I saw the sad souls running in place on their machines. Watching TV to make the time pass. I hesitated as I started to walk toward them. Kind of like when you force yourself to take Robitussin when you’re sick, but you have an instant gag reflex even before you put the spoon in your mouth.

Working past the gag, I chose a machine and got on it. Besides being repulsed, I was scared, too. I haven’t run in a month, and I believed all my ability was probably gone. So I started walking. I walked for maybe 3 minutes, and then started jogging at 5.0. Honestly, it didn’t feel so bad. I decided on an old trick I used to do to make treadmill workouts feel like they go fast, and keep things challenging: intervals. Any kind of intervals. 2 minutes on, 1 minute off. For example: 2 minutes at a faster pace, 1 minute at regular pace. 2 minutes at an incline of 4, 1 minute flat. And so on. And so forthe. And so it is written. So it was done.

Victory.