Chaos Attraction

More Gym Yakking

2005-02-07, 2:33 p.m.

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The only ambitions I've got in life these days are to:
(a) go to the gym and knock pounds off,
(b) do knitting and/or crocheting and/or beading and/or glass crafts,
(c) get through watching all of the seasons of Highlander and all the episodes of Firefly and Wonderfalls.

Seriously, that's it. I can't be arsed to care about anything else in my life.

Is that bad, that my ambitions in the world have gone down to about three things? Or is that still being productive as long as there's something?

Anyway, this is a lead-in to say that I'm going to write about the gym again. Since Julie seems to be getting out of the game (and Patrick seems to be getting into it? Temporarily? Dunno?), I'll take up some slack.

I'm currently working out at the gym six days a week (which will be going down to five soon, alas), since Wednesday nights are volunteering nights. I'll be taking glass fusing for a month starting in a few Tuesdays, so I don't think I'll be working out those nights. My goal is to work out for two hours a day. I'm alternating between machines and classes, which is fun.

Monday: HardCore Abs class for a half hour, 1 1/2 hours of cardio machines.
Everyone in this town is rabid for abs. The gym offers three abs classes a week, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, and they fill up fast. I'm always surprised at how many guys (especially the big, burly jock guys) take it, too.
As previously mentioned around here, I have a Jello-esque stomach. I'm one of those weird people who gains weight in the torso and pretty much nowhere else (yes, I know, that means I'll get heart disease and die young or something). It annoys me that most of me is (comparatively speaking) rather buff, but my waist just looks fat and pudgy. Hence why I am taking the abs classes. It's kind of ironic considering that I LOATHED doing crunches and situps in PE class with a passion- I always felt like my neck was going to pull right off and I'd get an agonizing side cramp about two minutes into it, and I decided, "screw it, I'd rather have a fat gut than do this."
My dance class (which I'll get to below), however, does a lot of ab stuff, and it wasn't all just crunches and situps and everything I hated. It's a mix of yoga/Pilates/modern/jazz/whatever he feels like throwing in that day, so you end up doing ab work that isn't traditional. After 4 1/2 months of taking that class, I was a lot better at it. Hell, even after missing 4 1/2 months of class, I'm still good at it. So after doing that for awhile, I figured I could handle HardCore Abs.
And I pretty much can. I haven't gotten any side cramps (amazing), and only sometimes have the neck-pulling-off-from-lack-of-support issue. The Monday night teacher, who's harder compared to the Tuesday night one, likes to just make you do a hundred crunches straight up and things like that, and amazingly, I can handle this.
Course, you can't really SEE that I seem to be getting abs o' steel under the blubber, but it's nice that I can usually do 98% of the activities in the class.

Tuesday: 1 hour of HEAT class, a half hour of HardCore Abs class, a half hour of BTB class.
HEAT class, which I can never remember what it stands for (High Energy Aerobic...something?), is my one major cardio class, I suppose. It's kind of strange- you do three sets within 60 minutes- 2 sets of cardio and 1 set of toning/abs/weight work. It can be pretty dang difficult at times.
The teacher (who also teaches TBT, below) is this amusingly perky chick with a warped sense of humor. Most of the aerobics teachers here aren't all that stereotypically perky (the Monday night teacher and my other teacher on Tuesdays are particularly serious), but this one is. She's so bizarre and entertaining, though, so I can deal with the perky.

BTB (Below the Belt) is some sort of lower body training class, usually involving weights and abs. This was the class I said I'd NEVER go to again after the first time I attended it, but I have since um, gotten over that. Heh. I'm not sure why I do it, other than it's a convenient time and I'm already in the building anyway. I don't really like doing weight training (but I'll get into that later), but lord knows I can always use the ab work.

One of the annoying things about the gym classes is that they have gotten so popular that you have to line up for a good 10-15-20 minutes before the class starts in order to get in. Considering that I used to be able to get to the gym and dressed by about 5:25 and work out for a half hour before classes started, and now I'm lucky to get 15 in before I have to go sit still in line... it makes it easier to just go to the class instead of trying to cram in 2 hours of time before the classes start.

Thursday: 1 hour of TBT class, either 1 hour of cardio or 1 hour of Steptacular class.

TBT (Total Body Toning) is not so aerobic, but a "work with torture tools" kind of class. This is where the DynaBands and those ankle handcuff things are broken out on a regular basis, as well as the hand weights and the body bar. Most of the stuff I can kinda handle, or at least struggle through, and it's a good workout.
But this is probably the class that does the most weights, and I don't like weight training. I was clearly not built to lift heavy objects, given my stick limbs. Even the smallest of weights give me issues. I can usually handle the 3 pound hand weights, as long as we don't just do nothing but lifting for longer than about 15 minutes. I tried the 5 pound weights my first BTB class, which was part of why I was in pain and miserable. Even using the 3 pounders can bugger up my back for a day or two. But even worse are the days the teacher drags out the body bars. The lightest of which are nine pounds. With all the "hold this bar over your head/hold it out really far/drag it up and down behind your back" stuff, my back REALLY gets buggered by those things. Ugh. I am not happy when it's body bar day.
I know you're supposed to do weight training and build muscle and whatnot, but honestly, I hate that stuff and would ONLY ever do it in a class context. I'm not going to suddenly hit the weight machines on my own any time soon.

As I've already mentioned, the Steptacular class is a new thing, something I throw into the mix assuming I'm not sick that day or something.

Friday: Around two hours dance class, with about a half hour of cardio machine time before that.
Saturday: same as Friday, but probably minus the extra cardio time because I'm not coming from work.

I think I've gone into what we do in dance class before, so I won't say much about it.

Sunday: 2 hours of cardio machines.
This is actually pretty fun for me, oddly enough. I usually do a half hour on each machine and switch around. The harder calorie burners (the FitStride, elliptical, and ArcTrainer) I try to do during the first hour, and stick to the "easier" ones (StairMaster, arm machine, bikes, treadmill) for the second hour.
I'm actually amazed at how fast I go on machines compared to their real-life counterparts. I usually end up going at about 5 miles per hour on the FitStride, which is a hell of a lot faster than I'd go if say, I was running. Plus, my breathing isn't all screwed up and I don't feel like I'm being pounded into the ground the way I do when running. (Can you tell I hate running?). I can do five miles in a half hour on the bike machines, as opposed to in real life where I'm just miserable and slow and going crazy trying to ride.
Due to the load of people, I end up using a lot of machines just depending on availability. This has, oddly enough, led me to figuring out why I loathe bike riding. They have recumbent bikes at the gym, and there was some day or other when that was all that was available to use, so I got on. And...I really liked it! It was actually COMFORTABLE to ride! I could adjust how much leg room I had on the thing (and did- I have it set at about 18 inches), I had a seat with a lot of room to actually fit a butt into, I was sitting upright instead of into a forced hunchback...and I chugged along marvelously.
Comparing that to the few times when I've had no choice but to use the regular exercise bikes, I was miserable on the regular ones. My legs felt squashed and uncomfortable in their little bent circles, my ass hurt like hell (I haaaaaaaaaaate bike seats. Hate hate.), my back wasn't too happy at being forced into a crouch. Geez, no wonder I can't stand regular bicycles! Too bad recumbents aren't exactly something one sees on the road much, though in this town you see them occasionally.
Another machine I love is the treadmill, mainly because I can keep on walking fast without having to stop for five minutes to wait for cars and crap like that. It was the first gym machine I actually liked, once I got the hang of it.
I just like the whole experience: blasting music away while watching totally crappy bimbo television. It's surprisingly mentally relaxing. And I still go
home not totally dead, which is great.
The gym thing is just working for me. I like doing classes, not stuff like running. I walk around a lot, but it wasn't making any difference in my body to work out "naturally" in the outdoors. I like swimming, but my complex pool is so icy cold it's unbearable to spend time in unless the temperature outside is over 100 degrees, so I don't do that much. I've vaguely thought about getting some sort of workout tape/DVD/what have you, but between four cats racing around and my living room being not all that huge, I wouldn't risk it. So this is good.

For the record, I am not dieting, nor do I plan to any time soon. I read that if you burn off 500 calories a day, it's as good as cutting 250 calories from your diet and then working off 250, and I'd rather do that and be able to eat what I want to.
So far, it's working beautifully. I started out at about 135 pounds, and have gotten that down to 127, which thrills me, especially since I am on a birth control method that ahem, is notorious for the weight gain that won't come off.
I don't really have a "goal weight" set or anything. Looking at this, it makes me nervous to think I was only 5 pounds off from being out of range. With the rampant family history of diabetes, I feel like I have to start watching myself RIGHT NOW or else I'll get it. Hell, compared to most of the family, Dad wasn't all that fat back in the day, and he got it in his early thirties. So on some level, working my way down without having to count every calorie going into my mouth and beating myself up for looking at a cookie is reassuring. I'd figure getting down to 125 would be reasonable and nice, and guarantee that I can wear my old pants again, but I won't cry if I somehow miraculously get a bit farther down than that. I'm not counting on it though, since I think naturally I gravitate towards a size 8.
I don't look too different, except to Denise (whose dad brainwashed his girls into having weight issues. Denise is a size 2-4 and still worries about being fat, and her sisters are even worse about it.), who asked if I'd lost weight. My stomach, despite all the crunches and weight loss, still looks like a giant blob that won't suck in too well. But I did some measurements of my waist and hips for a knitting project a few weeks ago and a few days ago and I've knocked an inch off both. That's so cool.

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