Gym & Remembrance

Today was my first day back at the gym since my infection surgery at the beginning of August – and I’d been away for most of the five months before that as I healed from the plastic surgery.  Although I’ve been walking, it hasn’t been much and certainly not up to pre-surgery activity.

So we started again, my trainer and I.   Because I still have the open wound (yes, after 7 weeks it is still open, though greatly healed), today was more about movement and not lots of weight or pulling motions such as lat pull downs which could pull on my wounded area.  I doubt I’ll be sore tomorrow, usually my clue about how well I worked my body, but it did feel good.

It’s scary to see how easy it is to gain weight back.  Oh, I’ve done it lots of times before (it’s my pattern) but I don’t like watching the scale and the way it has been nudging up a few pounds.  I know what to do to turn it around but have lacked the focus to actually do it – and all of this time away from regular exercise has not helped.  So it was particularly important that I had the appointment today, to get back on track.

On the other hand, it was definitely NOT good to be in the gym on 9/11 with memorials and interviews and related movies showing on every on-screen channel.  I was on the treadmill ten years ago in my Boston gym, watching as the planes hit the towers on one screen with Top Gun air fights on the next screen over.  It looked as though we were watching military scrambling to go after the people who struck the towers.  Unsettling and vivid.

I have only watched one of the myriad 9/11 shows this week.  I overloaded on all the coverage 10 years ago and cannot watch now.  I remember it all without seeing it again.  The one I did see was about baseball and the role it played for New York in the days, weeks, and months after the towers fell.  HGTV has been playing most of this weekend when the TV has been on.

At least we had power.  After Irene came through, almost 70% of Connecticut was without power for at least some time, including many of my staff.  My director’s house had major structural damage from a big tree crashing into the roof.   Roads were closed from flooding all over the state.  Schools ended up using “snow days” before the doors even opened for the year, due to power outages, flooding, and/or damage.

But I was fine here, other than leaking windows and losing cable for 8 hours (and with it, my internet and phone).  I have a good supply of lanterns and batteries, and those will come in handy later in the year when the warning is to prepare for a blizzard.

Weekend Roundup

SundayThanks, everyone, for the comments about my ongoing gym saga. Sally, you gave me some great ideas!

The reason I joined this particular gym in the first place is because they are the only place around with a pool. When I first joined last fall, I started going twice a week to water aerobics classes which worked pretty well except the water was freezing. To the point that some days at least half the class would quit before we started, so it wasn’t just me. (I know I”m a wimp but still.) The class starts late for someone who leaves work at 4:15, which was another issue.

I know I could go and work out with machines or something before changing into my bathing suit and hopping into the pool, but realistically, I sat in the car and read instead. I’m totally not interested in doing that in the middle of winter where the car has barely warmed up by the time I get to the club.

The enrollment fee thing is for the personal training package options. You enroll first, then you have the privilege of paying for a minimum of 2 sessions/month – though they really really want you to have more to “help you achieve your goals quickly.” Bahh. Paying for individual sessions don’t require an enrollment which is good because I have no intention of paying that anyway.

I think what I’ll do about the machines is to just muddle through on my own, watch other people, and ask other gym members for individual machine adjustments if I can’t figure out how to do it. But I also ordered Sweatin’ to the Oldies so I have something peppy to do here at home.

In the meantime, I spent time this weekend in Big Box stores, walking up and down every aisle, and wandering around outlet stores in strip malls. It was annoying that the Talbot’s outlet I discovered Saturday only had a handful of women’s sizes and no women’s petites, which is what I wear. I thought of Lori and Jen and wished I knew sizes and current wardrobe needs so I could shop for someone. Next time I’ll ask in advance since now I know where the store is.

By a lovely coincidence, the same little strip mall plaza that has the Talbot’s outlet also has an L.L. Bean’s outlet and the only Trader Joe’s within 20 miles. I picked up a new toiletries kit in red at Bean’s to replace my current one that has a broken zipper. And I relished being able to find all the wonderful things at T.J.’s that I was used to eating and cooking with back in Boston, where there were Trader Joe’s stores all over the place.

Today was quieter. No gym trips, in spite of my good intentions. But I did some serious cleaning with lovely orange-scented cleaners, got rid of bags of trash and recycling, and took a big bag of clothes and a box of books to Goodwill. Plus size clothes are sorely needed and it feels good to know that others can use what I no longer need.

Gym Follow Up

Sometimes we ask for what we want and it doesn’t work the way we expected.  Case in point:  I decided at my WW meeting yesterday that I would be brave and go back to my gym and ask to set up a real orientation session to learn how to adjust the machines.  It seemed easy enough and how threatening could it be, to just go in and ask some questions?

I stopped on my way home from work, all bundled up with cold weather clothes and with a bad case of hat hair which doesn’t do much for feeling pretty.  I went to the fitness desk with the little blue-shirted young perky trainers and asked about getting one or two paid sessions with a trainer to make sure I know how to do the logistics of the machines.

The next thing I knew, I was talking to a manager – who turned out to be the same 24 year old guy who did my original orientation, the one that had consisted of a quick tour and a hard sell on the packaged trainer sessions.  He did say that individual sessions were available at $60/ea, up to 12.  But if I were to pay that, it would be cheaper to just sign up for the smallest package, which is twice a month at $40/each.  But then I would need to also pay an enrollment fee.

The numbers got me muddled because, let’s be honest, what I wanted wasn’t what he was talking about.  I can appreciate that they want to see us achieve our goals – as long as that means they sell more training packages.  And I admit that having a trainer twice a month could be very motivational, assuming I went.  Since I’ve been particularly good at avoiding the place completely, I just didn’t want that option.

I left having not signed up for anything.  I’m saving up for a new car (more on that another post) and think that I’ll just try again to go back and figure it out on my own.  And if it’s too hard for me to make sense of it, or to get over feeling intimidated by all the men and perky toned youngsters, well, we’ll see what happens.

Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies sounds better all the time.

Ups and Downs at the Gym

Exercising LadyOn Saturday I signed up for a gym, one with a pool, and I was all set to Kick Some Butt and get into shape. That was Saturday. On Monday I had my orientation session with one of the personal trainers and I found out why the gym is so inexpensive: they really, really want you to sign up for pricey long-term packages with personal trainers to guide your progress.

I do understand how it would help to have someone work with me one or more times a week, setting a program and helping me with form and execution, and pushing er, encouraging me to do more than I think I can but doing it safely. The problem is that I can’t afford to do that when each session costs what the monthly gym membership costs.

So my orientation ended with me getting teary (coz I was mad and upset that he wasn’t listening to me) and him backing off. I promised that I wouldn’t abandon the gym because of the conversation and would make the most of the options, including the pool (once that dratted bathing suit arrives).

Yesterday I went to make good on that promise. I tried to use the recumbent bike but my cranky knee made that incredibly uncomfortable so I didn’t stay on it long, though in retrospect, I should have simply done the slow back and forth rotations from PT. There’s a thought for next time.

I moved on to the resistance machines because I know how to do them, how to adjust and the form and even what weight I used to do so I have a starting point. Except these shiny new machines were proportioned for taller people; on the leg extensions machine, I felt as though I was Goldilocks sitting in the Daddy chair with my legs dangling. When I tried to get into position, the bar ended up around my toes instead of my shins. Oops, that machine didn’t work.

I didn’t recognize a lot of the things I saw but was able to hop onto the abductor/adductor machines and do 130 lbs on those. And the leg press, until I could feel my knee popping. So then I tried this other one for my arms/back that ended up zinging That Spot in my back. It started aching last evening and I ended up with a bag of frozen peas on my knee and an ice pack on the back. It was like the emergency room, only with wireless and popcorn.

I’m rethinking what I’m going to do about working out. I love this gym because of the pool which will let me do water aerobics and pool walking, protecting my knee and back in the process. But I also like strength training and am afraid I won’t know how to do anything that won’t hurt me on the other equipment without paying big $$ for a trainer.

So I’m going to check out Curves to see what they have. Since it’s for women only, I’m guessing that the proportions will work more to scale with my body. I can afford to belong to both places and use them for different kinds of training, which might actually be a good thing and give me greater variety. It would still be cheaper than what I paid to belong to my Boston gym.

The good part is that I don’t feel like a loser because my body is hurting after only one session. I know my body and what sets it off and when to stop because muscle pain has given way to joint pain. Or that pesky back thing. I’ll do whatever it takes to increase flexibility and range of motion. Even joining two gyms.

I Joined a Gym

Woman strength trainingSaturday I checked out four local gyms, having previously researched them online, with a goal of joining one before the end of the weekend. A surprising amount of pertinent information – including price – was not available online

  • Variety of equipment for cardio and strength training
  • Layout
  • Hours
  • Pool
  • Personal trainer availability and certification
  • Locker room appearance and facilities
  • Classes offered
  • Contract or month to month
  • Price
  • Parking

Those are the easy things to identify and check off, but it’s harder to distill down the overall feeling of just being there. Is the gym dull and dark and smell like a locker room? Is it clean and bright and monitored for appearance and safety? How is the equipment maintained? Does anyone there look like me – older, out of shape, round – or are they all perky perfectly attired hard bodies?

I belonged to my Boston gym for seven years and loved that it was for women only. Being familiar with the options available there, it’s my benchmark for looking at new places. The one thing that it didn’t have that I would have killed for was a pool because of the options for no-impact work that wouldn’t put strain on my knee. I didn’t expect to find one that’s affordable but it was definitely in the back of my mind.

The university gym was the first option and I didn’t even go inside; I don’t want to work out surrounded by students. There were other places close to home that were more appealing. One of them was very affordable ($10/month!) but it was dark and smelled like a locker room. Not a good choice. Curves was another option with the benefit of being women only, but their hours were just ridiculous for someone who works, so that was out.

My next stop was LA Fitness and although I hadn’t planned to sign up right then, I was so impressed that I made a commitment before leaving. It was big, very clean and bright, with tons of equipment organized on two levels. There are four different brands of weight machines, racketball courts, a classroom, a gorgeous locker room – and a pool. Yes, a pool! With water aerobics classes on weekday evenings at 6pm, a time that I can actually make instead of the usual 10am which is just useless for working people.

I signed up for only $35/month, which is waaaaaaaay cheaper than what I’d been paying in Boston and I have more options. Tomorrow after work I’m meeting with a personal trainer to go over how to use the equipment and work out a program to help me accomplish my goals. I ordered a pool-safe bathing suit and am plotting how to adjust my hours to be sure I have time to get to the gym in time for the pool classes.

Feels like I’m off to a good start.