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On falling in love with the gym, yet again

May 20, 2011

The other day, my son found a toy that I had buried deep in a toy box in the hopes that it would never find the light of day again had gone missing. He certainly wasn’t looking for it (he was in a destructive mood, and much like the therapeutic effects of throwing coffee filters down a steep path when you’re out of shape and trying to hike the Appalachian Trail, finding and throwing toys is a good way to avoid a tantrum. CJ threw everything about & ended up with what was his favorite toy. He hadn’t missed it until he had it again.

I’m finding the same with the gym. Before I got married, I used to go to the gym twice a day. I’d wake up at 4:30, walk the dogs, get to the gym by 5:00, work out until 6:00, get to work by 6:30 or 7:00, work until 3:00 or 3:30, and then work out until 6:00 at night. Of course, the only real responsibilities I had at this time were the dogs, so I could do it. I loved it. I really did. I got married & actually kept it up, after the honeymoon, for a little bit.

Then I hit a rough spot at work, where I had to come in a little early, so I lost those morning workouts. And then I joined Kung Fu, and paying for Kung Fu and the gym was a bit too much, so I gave up the gym. Then my elbow started taking a slide for the worse & I stopped Kung Fu . . . and I essentially stopped working out at all.

Then, I started getting into cycling. And then running. I really got into running. Even if I had a full gym at my disposal, I’d have been concentrating on running – marathons require time, and the only way to get yourself ready is to run. A lot. So, I did.

But, now I have a good 5 months before the next marathon, and I’m trying to round out my workouts. So, I joined two gyms in the span of two days. We joined the local YMCA as a family – I wanted a pool to swim in as I start training for a triathlon, and the child watch room serves as a little bit of a sanity check for my wife, who no longer needs to wake up at ungodly hours to work out so that I can watch the kids.

The day after joining the Y, I joined the Planet Fitness closest to my workplace. I’m hoping to start biking to work one day a week. At my last job, I’d bike to work a fair bit, but that was 10 miles closer to home. I’d get to work, close my office door, turn the air conditioning on full blast, and chill for awhile before getting changed. After a 20 mile bike ride, I’d work up a sweat, but with fresh deodorant, I wasn’t rank1. Now, I’m looking at a 30 mile ride, and I don’t have a private office, and the temperature is always quite warm. My hopes of actually “appearing professional” (shut up, I can look professional) without a shower were few & far between. So, I joined the Planet Fitness around the corner – if I bike one day a week, I’ll end up paying $2.50 / shower, which isn’t horrible.

Of course, now that I have a full gym at my disposal (well, two full gyms), I’m using them. The Y, for the most part, is only a huge pool for me – I am seldom there except to swim. But, I do swim, aiming for twice a week. Since joining, Duffy has taken a shift in the child watch room, so the cost is “barely there,” and I know she gets a huge sanity check a few days a week as she gets to work out without having to deal with our monsters children.

Planet Fitness, though, has really made me fall in love with gyms all over again. I’ve been doing their 30 minute circuit, which I’m sure if far from an optimal workout, but I have limited time, and it works the whole body. Of course, I’ve been concentrating on running, a lot, lately. Mile after mile of carrying my body weight around (somewhere between 235 and 250 pounds, depending on the day . . . I’ll write, again and soon, about how “weight is just a number,” and I’m not concerned about my weight at all – I think I look good, and it takes me a lot to say that) means that my legs are nicely toned. The 30 minute circuit has me stepping for 60 seconds, resting for 30 seconds, then getting on a weight machine for 60 seconds, resting for 30 seconds, stepping for 60 seconds . . . you get it. When I get to a leg machine, I just max it out (so, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll actually get the full benefit from this workout), but since I’ve been ignoring my upper body2, so I have the feel-good feeling that you get while adding small amounts of weight every few workouts.

I love the nod that you give to other people, wanting to say “hi,” without actually interrupting their workout. I love the smell of the disinfectant solution (I know, I’m weird). I love the feeling that you keep throughout the day where your muscles are healing – that pain, that soreness . . . it’s a great reminder3. I love watching the tiny changes in my body that I’m sure only I might notice, but still, they’re there. More than all that, though, I love the break in the middle of the day. Since joining, I’ve been working out over lunch as often as possible – and just stepping away from work is magical. Afternoons are no longer just “plow on through” territory, but I start again, refreshed.

So, if I start talking about quitting the gym, remind me of the time I fell in love with it all over again. And how I equated a good workout with a spanking, because that’s more likely to trigger something in my mind.

1 Fine, maybe I was, but I worked with really kind coworkers who never brought it up.

2 At my last job, this wasn’t true – I had a private office & spent a lot of time on the telephone, be it a teleconference or talking with a coworker in a remote location. I made the rule that I would do pushups every time I got up to open & close my door. The first time, I’d go until I couldn’t go anymore. Then, 10 pushups each time I touched my office door . . . I switched jobs at the new year and no longer get to do this

3 I may have heard the same “reminder” comment from those who enjoy the receiving end of erotic spanking, not that I’d ever converse with such people.

  1. Yay for recognizing your wife needs gym time at a reasonable hour away from the kids. When my kids were little (but not as close together, how do you do it?!?), my time running or at the gym was my favorite hour of the day.

    What’s your next race?

    • As far as how we do it with two kids so close together? Don’t think, just do – as soon as you think, it’s impossible. When you’re constantly just trying to “stay afloat,” you just react on instinct.

      I have a 100km bike ride on June 11, and then a sprint triathlon in early August. I might have the Rock & Roll half-marathon in Philly in September, but that requires that I commit myself to raising $1,000 . . . My next marathons are October 2 (Milwaukee, though I haven’t signed up for it yet as I want to make sure I can get out there) and November 13 (Harrisburg). I also have a friend trying to talk me into the NYC marathon, where I have a spot open to me if I can commit to collecting $2,300 in donations.

  2. Laura permalink

    As someone who never paid much attention to her body, and never worked out (I was a jogger in my late 20’s, but that doesn’t count), I can say I fully understand how much you love the gym. I’ve been working out since August now, four days a week, and will say that I will never stop the habit. It feels so good! The changes to my body have been amazing, and I’ve only lost 10 lbs of actual weight, but over 30 lbs of fat. I alternate upper body and lower body each time I go in, and include core exercises every day. Included in my torture are: push ups, tricep push ups, chest presses and flies for upper body; squats and lunges (forward and reverse) for lower body, then the endless crunches and chops (chops are hard and awesome!) and reverse crunches for the core. Change up the routine every six weeks or so to keep it interesting–life is good!

  3. The gym needs to give me a BIG spanking because I’ve been a very bad boy. And by bad, I mean fat.

  4. Except for the part about being a boy, Pop pretty much wrote my comment for me.

  5. I’ll be happy to remind! I’m just starting to run short distances here and there again, and it feels great! I’m not stopping this time, no matter how much pain plantar fasciitis causes. The joy of the run is so much more awesome than the un-awesome of that.

    • PF scares me – as I run practically barefoot, I’m constantly taking inventory of how my body is feeling and how I’m running.

      I hope the injury doesn’t get in your way too much!

  6. I see the samoan perv gopopgo is here, throwing his stuff your way. (I’d say “junk” but he’d run with that.

    I’ll have to get your work out disease…just on my butt.

    • The thing about the whole thing here is, just a little bit of “go” leads to a whole lot of benefit. A single workout can lead you feeling better, making you want to work out more.

      The problem is that, once you get used to all of it, it’s so easy to get back out of the routine.

  7. We just joined a family gym – my daughter will have “full privileges” as of July when she turns 12 (sob).

    Right now, my boys go on the weekends.

    Can’t wait for this summer when we can all go together.

    Good luck with the training ~ you are one ambitious guy. Or crazy. Or both.

  8. I’m really looking forward to getting back into a routine. It’s time.

  9. The gym is like going to a bar for me – I just freaking LOVE the smell, the sounds, the feeling I know I will have while I’m there and after I’m finished. And I adore our YMCA. I know people who feel like it is too big of an expense, but as another mommy like your wife who has discovered the exercise is *critical* to sanity – well, let’s just say we would eat just rice and beans before I would ever forgo that membership.

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