THE GYM, PART FOUR
I managed 20 minutes on the elliptical yesterday, not much for most people, but for some reason I struggle with that machine more than the average athlete. Most elliptical machines are built for people taller than me, for one thing; the stride is way too long and too deep for me. But check out these nice ellipticals made by Precor: http://www.precor.com/comm/efx/, and definitely take a peek if you’re wondering what the heck an elliptical machine is.
My current gym, Boston Sports Clubs, (http://www.mysportsclubs.com/regions/BSC.htm), has seven or eight different types of elliptical machines, while my old gym, Planet Fitness (www.planetfitness.com)–of which I am still a member, as it only costs me $10 a month, less than I spend on coffee, but should I drop it will cost considerably more–has two types, both made by Stairmaster http://www.nautilusinc.com/consumer_catalog_primary/opl_brands/stairmaster/ellipticalsandtreadmills/prdcdovr~SM51
0053/StairMaster+ClubStride+5100+Elliptical+Trainer.jsp) and neither feels like a natural stride to me.
You get what you pay for, I suppose.
Now that you’ve clicked on the links, and wished you had $5,000 to spend, just like that, though I am not certain you’d spend it on an elliptical, let me get on with the story:
The real reason I spent a full 20 minutes on the elliptical yesterday was because I was watching a particularly mesmerizing TV show about medics in Iraq. Yes, for the uninformed: we have TV’s we can watch while we work out. At BSC we have individual TV’s at each machine, each with a little “remote” where we can plug in a set of headphones. There is a selection of about 15 stations, of which I prefer CNN.
I’m not going to go into the gory details of the show. You’ve all seen blood guts and gore in movies and on TV; it’s not pleasant. But for some reason, pumping away at the machine, surrounded by others working out, running on treadmills, flipping pages of magazines, bopping to music, with sweat as the only common denominator–this was the solitary activity, while the folks in the war were more connected, more in synch, more loving and caring than we at the gym could ever be.
After the elliptical, I went on to strength training. Since I had a couple of sessions with a trainer, I’ve been doing exercises using a stability ball. (OMG! Here’s a cheap one: http://www.buy.com/prod/nautilus-65cm-stability-ball/q/loc/17250/202526351.html?dcaid=17379 $15.55 incl shipping for 65 cm.) These exercises look simple but are incredible core strengtheners. People assume postures similar to those that children take on while making snowmen; stability balls don’t melt, though, they lose air and get soft, and I wouldn’t suggest sticking a carrot into one.
I then continued my strength training on Nautilus weight machines. (http://www.nautilus.com/nautilus_brand_commercial_equipment/productcategories/strength.jsp?lid=Strength) I don’t do many of these machines. I liked the ones at the old gym better; even though they clunked and clattered, they were well organized and easy to understand.
Stretching exercises were next, most of which I learned at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education’s Huron Ave Studio (http://www.ccae.org/catalog/courses/?id=13&PHPSESSID=ea9dc31d92d08d4cbcd0103f68c6b376). I spend a good half hour stretching. It’s interesting that we spend so much time contracting our muscles and now we must in turn pull them in the opposite direction to keep them balanced and happy.
Working out is the most selfish thing I do, and that includes blogging. At least when I’m blogging I’m reaching out. Maybe even helping people. When I work out, I’m building my body, my muscles. Does anyone else really care? Probably not. Or, rather, I may write about working out, and you may see what I write, and even click on the links, but no one truly wants to read this shit, right?