This gets a bit more complicated because of the varying levels of dis/ability I live with. I need something workable on cane/crutch days and something workable when I'm wheeling. This takes the campus rec center completely out of the running, if nothing else because there is a massive hill leading to the building wtih no handicap parking at the top of the hill. The inside of the building is barely accessible for a number of reasons, so sadly I really don't get to utilize a facility that my student fees pay for.
My local YMCA is more accessible but is pretty expensive, even at the student rate. Additionally, the hours are a bit terrible for a person that works and goes to school. They also tend to get pretty darn busy, and I'm not that convinced that the free weights space is particularly wheelie friendly.
|My local Planet Fitness|
The next step was an accessibility check. This Planet Fitness is in a shopping center that really needs more parking, and specifically more handicap parking. Not the gym's fault, but frustrating. It didn't help that this was the post-work crowd that was at the gym, but I really wanted to see the place at it's potential "worst."
I hobble up to the door and find that they have automatic doors...not sure why they have them, but that can be an awesome accessibility feature no matter who you are (universal design ftw!). I limp in with my cane and am immediately greeted by several staff members. I tell them that I want to check their gym out, they offer a tour, and we walk around. He shows me the rows upon rows of cardio machines, which includes a ramp up to the treadmills (a bit strange IMO since they didn't have any treadmills for wheelers). Tons of ellipticals (something I used to be able to use without much pain or nerve issues, but it's been about a year since I've tried). A bunch of bikes, both upright and recumbent, but without enough room to park a wheelchair next to (dear fitness industry, some of us wheelers have legs that can bike if we don't have to balance!). I'm bummed that there are no rowers or hand bikes, but those are things a lot of traditional gyms lack.
The tour continues with him telling me what each piece of equipment is...but I cut him off as he starts to tell me what a Smith machine is by telling him that I'm working on my PhD in kinesiology (want to scare a fitness professional? Tell them that you're getting a PhD in kinesiology. He looks shocked, but recovers quickly and he starts talking to me about the corporate philosophy of Planet Fitness as a "judgement free zone." The free weight area might be a bit tight for wheeling, but since benches are moveable, it ought to work.
So I joined Planet Fitness.
Well, day one workout was a half hour on the recumbent bike. It's something I don't need balance for, it's something I can get on and off without problems, and they tend to be fairly fat-friendly. At ten minutes, my back hurt at the fracture point. At 15 minutes, I'm starting to get electrical jolts down my legs. At 20 minutes, the nerve pathway all the way down to my big toe is on fire. At 25 minutes, I'm determined to finish but I'm watching the clock. At 30 minutes, I smash the stop button, mad at myself for torturing myself, angry at my body for "failing" at a workout that ought to be one of the more spine-friendly workouts that exist.
I'm not only frustrated at the spine-issues related to the workout, but I'm frustrated because I was hoping that outdoor recumbent triking would be an option for me both for recreation and bike commuting. I'm trying to remind myself of the bad swim workout that I had a while back that resulted in a fantastic swim the next day. I'm trying to remind myself that failing a workout isn't really failing. I'm also trying to tell myself that maybe I need to work up to that much biking and that maybe, just maybe I can get back on the road.
It's not the easiest road, but I'm going to keep trying. Stay tuned...