Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fitness frustration

So I've been having some mental health issues because of my inability to find fulfilling physical activity.  I'm a mover, a shaker, a wanderer, a wiggler.  I like to lift heavy things then put them down repeatedly.  I like to get my heart rate up, push my body, and just sweat.  I like to challenge myself in new and interesting ways.  Since I'm still trying to figure out what feels good both mentally and physically, I wanted to give a more traditional gym a try.  It's been a while since I've been in a traditional gym as my last gym was a CrossFit box

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.

Camera phone picture of the front of my local Planet Fitness
My local Planet Fitness
So after talking to a few friends, I decided to check out the local Planet Fitness.  I looked them up online and saw their rates were reasonable.  They're also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...something that's really great for me during the school year as I sometimes keep some odd hours when my writing and research muse grabs me by the ears.

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...

1 comment:

  1. Again, I have an idea of how you feel (I hate saying I know *exactly* how someone feels, because I don't think that's possible). In the years after my last spine surgery, my mobility and flexibility decreased dramatically. At my heaviest, I was 210 pounds. When I got sick two years ago, I lost 50 of that, but, as my mother is quick to remind me, 30 of that was water weight, and I've gained most of it back. A large part of the problem is that I have had to start using a motorized chair due to shoulder and wrist issues. I had *planned* to use my manual chair in the apartment building in order to get *some* form of exercise, but with the weight gain and leg atrophy, it doesn't fit right, and because it is no longer my "primary" chair, insurance won't pay for adjustments. Even five minutes in it sends my back into spasms. So, it's useless for exercise.

    I think that you are right in that you probably just need to build up your strength and endurance before you'll be able to do 30 minutes on the bike. I know it's hard, but try not to be so hard on yourself. It's not good to exercise to the point of severe pain. Even if you only start with 5 minutes, if next week you are able to do 6 minutes, that IS improvement, and you should be proud.