Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bad Behavior

A harsh reality of working out in a health club is that it's not yours. You have to share the space and equipment with several hundred other people who are likely equally perturbed that they have to share it with you. It's a concession we make to have access to all those fancy machines we can't afford to put in our homes. So we make the best of it, abandon our OCD and antisocial tendencies, wipe that last guy's sweat from the treadmill, smile politely at the infuriatingly cheery front desk staff, and go about our business.

Most of us, that is. There always seem to be a few regulars who eschew the spirit of cooperation, never letting the rest of us forget that 1) they're there, and 2) they'd prefer us not to be. These types are either desperate for attention or hellbent on taking out their frustrations on everyone near them---sometimes both. This is often expressed with loud, angry grunting, giving you the evil eye if you dare ask to work in a set, and being obnoxious just because they can.

There's a guy at my gym---I'd put him in his early 50s---who insists on popping his gum as loudly as possible whenever someone approaches the elliptical machine next to his. It's like he's firing a warning shot: get too close and you're gonna pay! He reminds me of a member at the last club where I worked who used to let out the occasional huge belch. He didn't care if anyone was nearby; if anything he did it because they were nearby.

Whether the bad behavior is claiming a bench with a gym bag or refusing to wipe sweat off the equipment, the common thread here seems to be a sense of entitlement. I was here first; I'm in here every day, I can do what I want; I'm bigger than you. It's like the driver on a crowded freeway who won't allow entering traffic to merge. We share the road; similarly, we have to share the health club. At least until we're all so rich that we can afford home gyms.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've Been Baaaddd...

So I admit freely that I've been neglecting my blogging duties. But I swear it's for a good reason. I've actually been kind of busy. Working outside of the house has forced me, now that the adjustment period is over, to figure out how to better manage my time. This got me thinking about how much easier it is to be productive when you've got to fit things in.

When you're unemployed, or on break from school, or working from home---when you don't necessarily have to do things on a set time frame---it's easy to get a little, shall we say, apathetic about a lot of things that need to get done. Like working out. Because if you've got all day, you'll reassure yourself that you'll get around to it, and then? Well, you might not.

If, on the other hand, you only have so much room in your day for a session at the gym, you'll take more care to schedule that time for yourself. And then? You'll be more likely to actually go. Everyone should do this, really, whether you work 14 hours a day or 4. Put a minimum of 3 weekly workouts into your calendar, and GO.

We're all busy, after all. I guess that excuse won't cut it anymore.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone, Already

(Before I begin, my apologies for the lack of new posts these last couple of weeks. There's been the adjustment to the new job, then a weeklong trip for a friend's wedding...Anyways, gonna try to be a little more consistent going forward!)

Now that I'm settling back into the health-club environment, I'm becoming aware of who the regulars are---who comes in when, how often they work out, and what exercises they choose. It's not hard to keep track because, frankly, people tend to stick with what they know. Which is typically limited to a few exercises.

And who can blame them? They're not fitness experts---that's my job.

What concerns me is not that a given gymgoer only knows how to perform six or eight exercises. It's that he appears unwilling to incorporate variety into his routine. As a trainer I often ask people what they do for their workouts. Maybe it's the elliptical followed by a machine circuit. I'll then ask why they choose this equipment. The general response: it's what they know. The other stuff, not so much.

So if you know that your familiarity with your gym's equipment or with other exercise styles is lacking, why not do something about it? If you always do the same routine (and if so, you've GOT to be getting bored) why not seek out some new ideas?

Often we avoid trying anything different simply because we don't want to screw up in front of other people---we don't want to do it wrong, and we don't want to look stupid. Completely understandable. That's why it's a good idea to hire a trainer for even one session. He or she can at the very least show you a few things to add to your repertoire.

Remember that the only way to see change is to shake things up a bit; otherwise your body adapts to the exercise stimulus, and change---be it in the form of weight loss or strength gain---comes more slowly, if at all.

Now if only I could get the members at my gym to realize this...