I’ve been off the grid for a couple of months due to some changes in my life. One consequence of these changes is that I no longer have access to exercise machines (treadmill, bike, elliptical) in my old house (too have to move the machines). I had been keeping extensive records (spreadsheets) and sometimes then reporting those data here, either as numerical analysis or “virtual” rides/walks, undoubtedly fairly boring for you Dear Reader, but something I wanted to log.
Keeping all those records and making reports here was critical to me to maintain my discipline on exercise, which is then tied to my weight management (doing OK but not great after my life changes). So I missed having that data to keep me motivated.
And for about two months, not having my exercise machines, my exercise quantities fell off a cliff. While the weather was still decent I was trying to keep up walking, real walks outside, but I rarely managed to clock as many miles as I had been doing on treadmill. And then it’s approaching winter and even my walks stopped.
I’d also been missing doing any biking as walks were the only thing I could. I looked around to find a cheap replacement bike but without any good choices. Then I’d noticed fliers in the mail about deal on a local gym.
Now I’ve never been a fan of gyms, for multiple reasons. But, by luck, the nearest gym has quite a bit of attitude that focuses on the less dedicated (and in some cases way more out-of-shape) customers. The attitude plus their low prices are designed to encourage people who need exercise to get past aversion to much of what they’d encounter in most gyms (e.g. body shaming). So it was worth a try.
So I joined up (easy enough, no contract, no hard sell pitch) and started the next day. Now I don’t like: a) having to use car to drive to the gym (seems silly to burn gasoline to go exercise), and, b) unlike at home with my own machines where I could workout any time, for as much time (over whole day) as I wanted I need have to pack all my exercise into a couple of hours at the gym (fortunately being retired I can go when I want so I hit the least busy time). That’s the bad news, but the good news is: a) the gym has a ton of machines (two different bike types) for the aerobic workout, and, b) it also has all the strength machines and free weights. Despite all my previous workouts (over five years) I wasn’t getting any upper body workouts and so while my legs and cardio were good I was steadily losing upper body strength (hey, after all, I’m 69 too, but I don’t want to be as much a wimp as I was).
So I’m trying to really get into routine, go to gym 6 days out of the week, mix up different types of aerobic (mostly both types of bike plus treadmill, but also throwing in some stairmaster as getting some climbing strength into my legs would be good for a long hike). And I’m gradually learning to use the various strength machines. Plus, at my new home I decided, since I spend many hours sitting at computer, to also do a limited set of upper body exercises and in my usual fashion keep rather complete statistics on those (I’ve now done 26,380 reps of eight different types over 33 days, not bad).
But another drawback of the gym is I don’t have easy way to keep records of my workouts. Plus as the workouts are now more diverse I don’t have easy way to “normalize” different types of exercise to a single number, i.e. biking or walking miles per day). I use the two types of bikes differently: recumbent for low intensity (some spurts) calorie burn and upright for maximum aerobic (much higher RPMs, lots of spurts), so even if I recorded all that how do I combine these very different workouts to a single biking number.
But most of all is the record keeping itself. The aerobic machines have the same kinds of readouts as I had with my home machines (although they’re calibrated rather different so the gym’s bikes record both less calories and less miles, so another analysis problem, how to combine with all my history on my own bike). But the biggest problem is just the mechanics of how to record. I tried using my phone and a note taking app – didn’t work well. Plus I still need my iPod as Apple managed to lock me into their music and my phone is (happily) Android so it’s bare on music (plus no WiFi at the gym to do streaming). The iPod is even harder to use as a recording device.
And, for the strength machines, there are no digital readouts, so I have to manually count. Plus I’m using about 10 different machines, and, of course, each machine can be adjusted for weight – a complex record keeping situation, but even worse to try to figure out how to reduce all those variables (if I were recording them) to a simple metric to record over time. And only once have I seen any other person carrying a notebook for recording their data so it’s definitely geeky (plus inconvenient) to carry around paper recording.
So without all the numerical feedback I have to just hope I’m doing enough workout. I miss having the data and all the analysis I did. I have a weak mental record on bikes, i.e. I’d lost (after 2+ months of no biking) my fitness to do 40 miles/day, but I’ve been counting in my head that I’ve increased from about 6 miles on my first gym day to about 13 yesterday (given the intensity plus the lower reading from those bikes I’d say that’s about equivalent to 20 of my old miles, but trying to do an accurate adjustment would be difficult).
So I’ll see how it all goes and meanwhile Dear Reader, you’ll be spared boring posts about my exercise statistics.
Meanwhile, as to my absence from blogging in general, no I didn’t lose access for the last few months but my situation has not been conducive to blogging. It’s not totally my own situation but as many of my posts were about something in the news and the news these days is unremittingly distressing I also just haven’t felt like some of my usual whines/rants. And meanwhile there certainly hasn’t been any “fun” thing to report.
But I’m adjusting (with difficulty) and perhaps will use the routine of the gym (restoring daily exercise to my life) as motivation to also restore blogging to my life. We’ll see on that too. Certainly I’m not going to do any bread articles as I no longer have access to adequate baking facilities, plus now it would be even worse, for my weight, to have any bread around for just me to wolf down. And it’s winter, so no trips. So pretty boring time with little material for posts. But you can’t keep a voluble writer down so I’m sure I’ll find something.