Any veteran reader of Rant and Roll will know that I have a storied history with the gym. In fact, the first time I was freshly pressed (way, way back in 2012!) it was because of a post about how I both loved and loathed my (then) gym.
However, when I suffered a small tear in my right calf muscle last fall, and rejoined the land of the gym dwellers, I had no idea how much I would love incorporating the gym into my early mornings! This month on Live Out There, I wrote about how you too can learn to love hitting the gym before the sun rises, and how to get the most out of your workout.
I used to balk at the idea of getting up and exercising before work. My line of reasoning? I had to wake up early enough, so why the heck would I ever choose to rise before necessity strictly demanded it of me? Sleep, after all, is a hugely valuable commodity and I was fiercely proud of my ability to distill my morning routine down to the bare minimum. At my best I could get my (very presentable) self out of the door in twenty minutes or less.
But then I moved to the lovely little Hamlet known as New Westminster and began taking the skytrain into my job every day. At the station closest to my house there is Dynamic Fitness, a lovely, evenly priced gym, and last autumn, as I nursed a torn calf muscle, I took out a membership. I thought I would give a pre-work workout a try, just to see if I could hack an early morning sweat. I could use the gym’s showers and leave my stuff in a locker during the day. What did I have to lose?
Continue reading my top tips for transitioning to early morning workouts here.
I haven’t quite quit the gym. But I have put my membership on notice.
Let’s call it a trial separation.
And as many of you know, I have quite a tumultuous relationship with my gym.
All gyms really.
Even if I did, once upon a time, go to the gym A LOT.
All throughout my undergrad and first year of my post grad I trekked to the gym between three to five times per week. I didn’t know how to exercise without a membership card. As such, I participated in fitness classes where generic but frenetic electro-pop made my heartbeat irregular. I read more back issues of Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and the Economist whilst climbing to nowhere on a Stairmaster, than a chronically bored Chapters employee.
In the two months leading up to my wedding, I frequented the hallowed sweat-box known as “Fitness World” so many times one of the front desk girls asked me if I wanted a job with the company.
But oh how things have changed.
The summer after our marriage, my husband and I moved to New Westminster (a city almost gym-free compared to Vancouver) and I started a job-school schedule that demanded between 50-60 hours of my time during the week.
I was so exhausted most of the time that the last thing I wanted to do before or after work (let alone on my days off) was head to the gym. Both my body and mind completely rejected the idea of regulated exercise.
And so other than riding my bike as my preferred mode of transit, I did nothing.
However, after two glorious months of doing nothing, I began to miss a more dynamic lifestyle. I did not, however, on any terms, want to return to a gym. Slowly, I started to experiment with different sorts of outdoor activities. What I quickly realized was that my body was capable of so much more than what it is confined to within the gym. It was (is!) literally a vehicle – a means of getting around, of exploring places I’d never been, of spending more times with family and friends.
I ramped up my pedal schedule and started biking everywhere.
Queen’s Park became my treadmill.
I only re-joined the gym life a year later because of how horrible our weather had been, and I wasn’t about to commit to working out in the dark and rain all the live long winter.
But now I’m tired.
And I’m thinking that come the end of this trial run, I may just quit it all together.
Sometimes, you just need to reboot.
Here are my top four reasons why:
1.The gym can be very expensive. Most range between 20-50 dollars a month. Some are even higher. If you multiply those numbers by 12, you are looking at upwards of 600 dollars a year. Mine is pretty cheap, but I still think of the pretty shiny things I can buy with those sweet cash dollars.
2. The gym is an establishment frequented by the semi-sane that can, and will, turn you the exact same way: girls in their bathing suits talking on their cells phones; guys who are more interested in checking themselves out than actually lifting weights; people who don’t clean off machines or wear proper deodorant, who butt-in before you’re done you set or feel the need to step in and provide one-on-one support because “they took a class in college once…” I know I look quite the sight dressed in my husband’s old t-shirts and shorts.
3.The gym is inside. I know this is a total boon when living in a deciduous rain forest, but I truly believe there is nothing more refreshing and rewarding then exercising outside, rain or shine (give or take the ferocity of the elements. There may be times where you have to concede to Mother Nature.) However, you will never feel better or more alive than after completing a hard fought activity on unlevel ground, gulping down fresh air as the wind cools your flushed face.
4. Finally, the number one reason to quit the gym is that you can stay in shape without it.
Just remember to:
Expect changes. The first time around I thought I could just jump into the same level of exercise that I was accustomed to at the gym. (This was also a very silly mistake as I had also been inactive for longer than I was used to.) Both running and biking outside has a different affect on your body than the monotony of gym machines.
It will likely tire you out at a faster rate.
If you are capable of going to the gym every week, you are capable of going for a run/bike ride/hike/walk/ every week as well! It is very easy to feel as though because the gym is there and you’re paying for it, you have to go. There is no reason that you should lose the resolve just because you aren’t paying for it.
That should be a reason to go.
And for goodness sakes, use your body.
Resistance work has got to be one of the most difficult but effective workouts I have ever done. Plus you can do it in the comfort of your own home/dorm/common room. Push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees – these exercises require no equipment and work like nothing else.
Of course I cannot guarantee that any of these things will work for anyone, let along everyone. I wanted to write this post because I was so shocked and so happy by something I never thought I would be able to do.
I promise you will be amazed at the things you are capable of achieving.
Love: It’s cheap as hell. For twenty-three bucks a month I feel as though my range to complain is quite, shall we say, limited.
Hate: Because it’s cheap as hell it’s a bit of a crap box. There is zero air circulation and the exposed pipes drip like dripping things (to the point where you start to think that you’re sweating more than you actually are.) I already sweat like a glass blower’s arse and because there is zero air flow, whenever I lift weights in front of the mirror I bloody-well fog up the part of glass in front of which I’m standing.
That this makes me feel sexy as all get out is an understatement.
And is also a lie.
Love: On days where I feel like the athlete of the century it has everything I need, especially if the weather happens to be total crap (like, say, how it has been for the past seven months.) I can run, bike, lift weights, use stability balls, etc. all under one (incredibly) leaky roof.
Hate: On days where I feel like anything but the athlete of the century, my gym taunts me like a school yard foe. I have to walk by it on my way home from transit, so if I ever decide that it’s not in my best interest to workout (despite having schlepped all my gear with me to work that day) I can feel its mocking stare as I scuttle by its front doors without actually going inside.
Love: The sense of accomplishment, fatigue (but the good kind), strength, and general bad-assery I get after finishing a workout. There are not too many things that feel quite as good as a monster training session, and the gym is obviously a well equipped place to provide this feeling.
Hate: The utter dejection, fatigue (the bad kind – the kind you get after a brain melting day at work), and overwhelming urge to go home, put on your pajamas and EAT ALL THE NUTELLA you feel before you start your workout. At said gym.
Love: Days where I have the whole place to myself and no one talks to me, drops their weights, or grunts/shrieks like an obnoxious fool.
Hate: The exact opposite of everything I just said. And no Mr. Pathological Liar – I don’t give a flying flashdance about your double PhD and MMA supremacy!
So there you have it. It’s a complex relationship, but one that I am in for the long haul.
Or at least until I move to a city where the climate hangs around 22 degrees (Celsius) all year round.
This is what my dining room looked like last night:
And this is what was going on in my living room:
Mr. M is currently Mr. Fix-it, which means we have no bathroom in our bathroom, and most things that will end up going in our new bathroom are sitting, or strewn about, where we normally eat dinner.
And because I am incapable of operating at a normal level without washing my hair every day (because, dear readers, it is so very thin and so very fine, and because of how much I exercise , I cannot live without a daily shampooing) and because we had no tub – I washed my hair in the sink, where thirty minutes prior I had scrubbed two frying pans, a colander, two soup bowls and a spatula.
Needless to say, before I got down to business, the side of the sink that I used to wash my locks was scrubbed to an inch of its life.
(And because I’m lazy, I left the other side the way it was, with a dirty knife and spoon lying next to the scrub brush.)
No joke I nearly broke my back and cricked my neck for all of Canada as I limbo-ed my way to clean hair.
Also, it is dang hard trying to get all the conditioner rinsed away, when your giant five foot ten body is unable to manoeuvre itself to allow for your stupid head to rest directly under the water stream.
Also, it’s at times like this that I realize just how long my hair actually is (when I dye my hair from a box is also another great reminder of this.)
I might not have a lot of it, but it’s getting to the length where I start to feel like a mermaid when I get out of the shower.
Speaking of which, today I did something shower related I’ve never done before – for the first time I brought a change of clothes with me to the gym and showered as soon as I’ve finished working out.
I was a little nervous to check out the state of its facilities, what with how dodgy the place is overall.
But despite the exposed pipes, and broken fan, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
It was very clean, with good water pressure, and honestly, quite a large stall.
I don’t know if I’m going to start pulling this stunt on a daily basis, but during the time that I’m living in a house without resources for bathing (kitchen sink not included) it’s a good reserve to fall back on.
The only fly in the ointment being that between my regular gym gear that I schlep with me to work, and the extra shower stuff I had to add to my kit, today I was (and tomorrow I will be) a bag lady and a half.
And a half!
Alas, t’is the price you pay for cleanliness.
SAW: These Air Canada Ads
Okay, a while back I wrote a post about the first generation of these Air Canada ads, focusing on (what I thought to be) a very white-washed advertising campaign.
Here you are, marketing flights to large, Asian cities (each one, need I point out, very different from the other) and you have an all white cast, some of which are dressed in non-descript “Asian” dress, or holding chopsticks, or, what is that, practicing some kind of martial art?
It’s painful just looking at them.
Seriously, has one person who worked on this campaign done any of the following?
Gone to Hong Kong/Beijing/Seoul
Looked at the majority of individuals flying back and forth between Vancouver and these cities, and then bothered to notice what they looked like.
Gone out anywhere in the Lower Mainland and registered that its population is incredibly diverse, and not in fact racially homogenous.
It just boggles my mind (and also makes me laugh, because believe-you-me folks, I used to work at the airport and I’m very well versed will all of these Air Canada flights, and I know who is travelling on them, and it doesn’t matter if they are Canadian, Chinese, or Korean, but the average traveller does not look like this:
And I’m not saying that they cannot use white models in their campaign, but a little variety wouldn’t kill them either.
At the very least it wouldn’t make them look so casually racist, and overwhelmingly tone deaf.
WANT TO DO: Make out with Richard Hammond.
Because I am an ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, and judging) on the Myers Briggs personality test, change to my regular routine is something I try to avoid at all costs. So as you can imagine, when I’m confronted by minor disturbances (such as having no working bathtub) my rabid need to control everything (and then not being able to do so) drives me a bit batty.
But just a bit.
In an attempt to help me calm down, I have been watching episodes of Top Gear on Netflix, drinking hot chocolate, and eating thousands of mini marshmallows.
I just started watching the show last week, and oh boy is it funny.
It hilarious and entertaining, and I enjoy Jeremy Clarkson’s acerbic wit, and it would be pretty fab to have the chance to play checkers against James May, sitting out on a lanai somewhere on Oahu’s North coast (in my imagination).
But mostly more than anything, I want to have a good old fashioned snog fest (in the parlance of his country) with Mr. Hammond (also in my imagination.)
He’s cute as hell, plus I get a kick out of the idea that in work shoes I’d be over half a foot taller than him. It would be just like every single high school dance I ever went to. Throw in some Mario Kart, late night McDonald’s runs, and a ton of laugh-fuelled bumbling and fumbling, and you pretty much have my grade eleven relationship down to a tee.
Plus – he’s from Brum, the city that owns a good chunk of my heart.
(And in terms of famous people who’ve come out of Birmingham, I’d definitely choose him over Frank Skinner and Ozzy Osborne.)
So there you have it folks.
DID. SAW. WANT TO DO.
And to finish off, if may ask, what are some weird things you’ve been up to this week? Seen anything barmy in the extreme? And who are you jonesing for a sweet, sweet lip-lock (if too, only in your imagination)?
Let me know, and I’ll think about it the next time I’m washing my hair (in or outside of my kitchen.)
Tonight I went to the gym and ran and crunched and pumped and chinned and ran some more.
I am trying to drink more water both outside of, and during my workouts because my lips currently feel as though they have taken up house somewhere smack dab in the middle of the Sahara.
If I really tried (and well, lost all sense of social decorum – or more importantly, of right and wrong) I could probably give myself a pedicure using only my mouth.
Anywho, it was during one of my many trips to the bathroom to drink water from the sink (I keep forgetting water bottles and as I was saying before, my gym leaves something to be desired both aesthetics and amenities-wise. ie) no available water fountain. Seriously, it’s amazing there is even a functional plumbing system in the change rooms and that we’re not forced to drink the rusty water droplets as they leak from the overhead pipes) that I noticed that outside, tied up on the deck was one of the cutest, most forlorn doggies I have ever espied.
I walked over to the window and there he was, lying on the cold hard concrete. I crouched down to get a better look at the fella (I don’t actually know for sure if the dog was of the XY persuasion – I am one of those strange individuals who assumes that all dogs are male and all cats are female, while holding absolutely zero preconceptions about the sexes of all other animals) and as I folded myself into a squat, he looked at me and actually sighed.
Like an old man, leaning back in his rocker, eyeing his pipe that has recently gone cold, pondering whether or not he should refill the bowl with his favourite tobacco, or whether or not there is ample lighter fluid in his zippo, or perhaps how he got that small hole in the top corner of his right slipper – THE DOG SIGHED.
I sighed back.
He then looked at me – a stare that was both long and hard, almost pleading – before yawning a big, darn-right terrific yawn (a yawn like how the lions yawn in national geographic photos or PBS documentaries) before turning away and resting his chin on his front paws.
The word yawn has lost all meaning to me now.
But I digress.
The lonely and abject dejection in his eyes, combined with the fact that he actually just exhaled as if to say – PEOPLE AM I RITE? – pretty much broke my heart in half.
Plus, anyone who is operating on the West Coast of Canada (WCOC or Wuhcock if you will) these days knows that the temperatures have been anything BUT temperate.
It’s colder than Frosty’s carrot stick out there.
Who could do that to their pet? Tie them up outside, alone in the freezing night air.
Cripes, can you imagine what the whole scenario must look like from the eyes of this canine? You head inside and proceed to run on a machine that goes nowhere. Then you repeatedly lift what can only be rubber, over-sized chew toys. Then you frig around on your back for a bit, contorting yourself into the positions that the cat tends to sleep in- but only when she’s really, really exhausted.
That dog probably wasn’t just tired and sad.
He was probably thinking to himself: “Shit. What an asshole.”
And let me tell you, he wasn’t the only one.
People who don’t exercise with their pets when it’s a viable option – I’m not purporting that people should run marathons with their super old doggies or Chihuahuas, but within the acceptable limits – don’t deserve to have the pet in the first place.
Take responsibility and do the right thing. Spend that time with your dog – they are not the only one who will benefit from the activity!
For example, tonight, in spite the cold, it was actually a super lovely evening. The jerk owner could have gone for a nice long walk with Mr. Pooch, enjoyed the crisp, invigorating air, got some quality bonding time in, and if they still felt the need to feel the burn, could have gone to the gym after having dropped their dog off back home.
It’s the humane thing to do.
So all you pet owners out there, I have one piece of advice:
HEY – BE A MAN. DO THE RIGHT THING!
Oh and bring a water bottle to the gym. Drinking straight out of the tap is for the dogs.