FishDreamer scribbles, one page at a time

Sunday, 4 January 2004


What do you look for in a gym?

This afternoon I found myself with a fairly strong desire to join a gym. I get a lot out of my tapes, and I have started running again, and I have my five-pound hand weights for some arm work, but I want more. I want a pool, I want lots of free weights and some machines, I want treadmills, and I want spinning and aerobics and yoga. Training programs. Classes. I used to do Jazzercise(TM) ten years ago, and I loved it. But I live too far away from the Jazzercise gym now, plus it has horrible parking. It really only worked for me when I worked four blocks away and could get there before most people. Now I work in an entirely different city, so it's not an option.

There are two clubs within walking distance of my house. One is the YMCA, but this location is mostly focused on the school they run. Facilities are rather sparse - no pool, only a universal gym and some free weights, and step aerobics. Yoga twice a week. I think they have two or three treadmills. The other club is a local community club offering two pools, five tennis courts (outdoor), and a weight room. Apparently there are treadmills in the weight room, and they might have some kind of aerobics type activity. They do have a masters swim club.

But since I have bicipital tendinitis in both shoulders, I am not supposed to swim hard or regularly. One triathlon a year is okay, but tri-weekly workouts? Can't do it. (Fun as it sounds!) I remember the spin classes I took when I belonged to the big local Y, which is a 20-minute drive from my house, and I loved those. Would like to do that again, but I am having trouble finding everything I want in one convenient facility.

This is a problem I have with working downtown. The commuter bus is very handy geographically, but the last bus leaves downtown for home at 5:25. That does not leave enough time to get a good workout in, even if the classes were offered at exactly the right time. I could catch an early bus in and work out in the morning, but I don't like doing that every day. I really like to exercise at night, I don't know why. It also leaves me less tired as I go through my day, plus I am fairly incapable of major exertion in the morning. Believe me, I've tried. Morning workouts are calm and slow and contemplative, evening workouts are vigorous and energizing. That is just the way my body works.

I used to belong to a different gym, the one that's known as a meat market. It's also the gym where Jazzercise was held. I hated that place. It had a pool, which I never once used. The aerobics area was also the basketball court, with raquetball courts where they had spin classes. Those were always full, you had to get there early and sign up and then wait outside the door to claim a bike. I never took that class. The weight machines were great. They didn't have enough treadmills--not that I ran much then, and if I did I ran on the track hanging suspended above everything else. It was mostly one big open two story warehouse, so the music from any aerobics or spin class was inescapable and usually in competition. Their big draw, for a lot of people, was the pickle ball courts that were in between the cardio machines and the basketball court.

I just never got the appeal, and the sales staff were overbearing and condescending. Does not go over well with me, generally. Mr D got laid off and our gym membership went away.

Am I asking too much? Most of the yoga places around here are of that membership type, where you don't get to go when you want. You have to pay a membership fee, and then for the classes. And they offer energy alignments and supplements and won't tell you what kind of yoga they do, you have to go in and have an evaluation to find out. Actually, I think the ones I keep finding are different branches of the same company. The dance studio up the street offers yoga, at 9:30 and 10:30 three times during the week. In the morning. I might go back to the Y and try again, since they have it Wednesday nights at 6:30 or something and then on Saturday at 10. That's not too bad. But it's still not a gym.

I want that experience of going to the gym, I want to feel like I did when I went regularly because I was training for a triathlon and my boss (who owned the company) gave me time off during work days to do it. I want to see other people training too. I want to meet someone in a class or on a treadmill, just chat about what we're doing. Or anything.

I'm seriously thinking of joining the local running club. I'm much slower than most of them, but I'm faster than I was the last time I ran with them (two years ago). I might actually pay dues and join, instead of just showing up at the group runs like I did before. They have track workouts once a week, and group runs four days. It's cheap, too. I just need to look around first and see if maybe there's a running club for those of us who live in the south end of town instead of the north end.

I am not sure, but I think all this renewed fitness interest is due to being able to run again, and not because it's a new year. It's because I went running yesterday, and it felt great, and I want to run more. We'll see. I think I'm still trying to figure out what it is I need before I commit to a gym or a club or a program. But I am so very ready.

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