Monday, July 30, 2012

More fitness frustrations

Before I get too far writing this, I want to clear something up about my previous post.  My comment about 30 minutes on the recumbent bike is a personal fitness expectation not an arbitrary benchmark for physical fitness.  Every body is different, every fitness level is different and even the same body will vary depending on a bunch of factors.  As someone who has done triathlons, endurance cycling, and CrossFit, that particular workout at a low cadence and moderate gear felt like a reasonable "getting back into the gym" workout.  I apologize if anyone was offended.

This is a part 2 to the "Fitness Frustration" post from a few days ago.

As a bit of a gymrat by nature, I went back to Planet Fitness to work out.  I wanted to lift weights as I was having one of those days where I needed to feel physically strong.  I like feeling strong, I like lifting things up and putting them down, so the gym seemed like the best place to satiate this desire.

I go in, check in (and get my picture taken for my account), and head for a recumbent bike.  My plan is really just to warm up for about ten minutes to lift weights, but I get caught up reading this book that a Facebook friend/professor acquaintance suggested (for those of you curious, Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBryde Johnson).  I had the same leg pain & numbness as the previous day's workout, although I used the end of the chapter as my benchmark (lots of things are more bearable with a good book, in my opinion!).

I hobble off the bike and do a loop around the gym to see what equipment is available.  I'm not that fond of strength training machines as I'm 4'11" and usually have to do some strange balancing act to get them to fit right.

I go past the cable machines (something that works better for me biomechanically than the Nautilus-type machines) and they are too packed.  I'm bummed as these are the best for me as I don't have to move plates or dumbbells to a bench to modify the intensity of a workout.

At the end of my lap around the gym, I'm at the free weights.  I find a free bench, find a pair of dumbbells that I can pick up one-handed and that I know will work for all the upper body work I'm planning to do, so they're a bit too light for bench press and overhead press, a bit tough for bicep curls.  Three sets of 10-15 reps of each exercise.  No problem, lots of awesome sweat.  I have my cane perched on the bench for easy reach.  I realize that I've forgotten to do incline presses.  No worries as the bench can be set up for I think.


The end of a black cane, damaged and cracked, set against the steering wheel of a PT Cruiser
Realistic battle damage on my cane
The bench slammed down from it's 45 degree incline back to its original flat position...onto my cane.  My beloved flame cane.  The cane I bought for my masters degree commencement ceremony.  My "I'm gimpy but I can still kick your ass" cane.

I set my cane on the floor, reset the bench (making sure that it was fully locked in this time).  I finished my incline rows quickly, grabbed my cane, hobbled my dumbbells back to the rack, and really took a look at the "realistic battle damage" (as my SO puts it).  Because it's damaged on the bottom part of the hook of the cane, it should still be structurally sound but it's hard to be sure because of the cracks.

Angrily, I go back to the recumbent bikes for a cooldown...which turned into more of a "let's push myself more to try to burn off this anger."  I'm thankful that I didn't get my hand slammed in the bench, especially because I use my hands to earn a living and to help me get around.  That slam very well could have broken bones in my hand.  So I push longer than I should, fueled by frustration and eventually cooling down with several pages of the book.

Back at my car, I take a closer look at the damage and take the above photo with my cell phone.  My fingers rub against some of the damage when I walk, but it should still serve me while I save up for either a replacement (probably in carbon fiber, which is more expensive) or something different that still has style...maybe a clear lucite cane (seriously, I think Fashionable Canes needs an affiliate program with all these links...or maybe just consider this my birthday wish list!).

This is still a work in progress for me, and it still makes me dream of a gym that is created through the principals of universal design.  Access to fitness opportunities, fun physical activity, and health for all!

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