So, I have tried not to become one of those people when it comes to my physical activity and fitness regimen, but today truly tested my metal.
I’ve recently changed up my routine workout schedule. A few different circumstances contributed to the adjustments. The primary reason was my move to a telecommute status for my job that put me within five minutes of my gym. Whereas previously my workout waited until the end of the workday when I stopped on the way home (because my office was inconveniently far from the gym to go during the day), I now have the ability to run to the gym for a mid-day workout break during my lunch hour. Another reason for the schedule shift was that my former choice of the after-work-workout was popular with a lot of people. The gym was crowded starting at around 5:00 P.M. If I didn’t get to the gym before that time, it was very unlikely that I would find any of the cardio machinery (elliptical, treadmill, stationary bicycles, or stair climber) free. The same could be said for the various resistance and strength training machines, and don’t get me started on the circuit training area. Needless to say, with my late in the day meetings, project, and door-knob questions from staff, I rarely got to my gym in time to get my turn at the necessary activities. It was frustrating, to say the least, and a recipe for fitness failure if I allowed it to be. Therefore, my change to a mid-day workout was an unexpected blessing. It is glorious. I practically have the whole place to myself, and I get in a full workout in the time most people get through lunch.
I fear that even this brief period of blessed freedom and isolation in my fitness has led me to a sense of complacency. I’ve become accustomed to my privacy and freedom of the unpopulated daytime gym. I have taken for granted that I have the run of the place. I mistakenly assumed that my frustrations of the gym-etiquette-deficient were behind me. Today, that cherished feeling has been decimated … decisively.
First, I got rather a later start than normal, but I was still at the gym shortly after the normal lunch hour. As usual, my chosen temple to physical fitness was practically empty. I was immediately able to get an elliptical machine for my run (yes, this is how I run because I’m old, and I have knees that still haven’t forgiven me for the mistreatment of my youth). So far, so good. After my usual three miles, I moved to the circuit training area.
- I just heard the groans from some of my more dedicated fitness experts among my readers, but here is my defense:
- I don’t do the circuit training every day or even every workout.
- I do practice “muscle confusion” and switch things up between leg day, torso, abs, etc.
- When it comes to a lunch hour workout, circuit training is a great way for me to get in a full body workout to start my week.
Back to my tale… I went to my blessedly empty circuit training area. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than trying to do circuit training during the busy times of the day. Sadly the circuit training area is the one place in a gym where, for some reason, people tend to congregate and socialize after work (which was one of my frustrations with the after-work-workout). This is a serious problem for someone who is trying to stay in their groove (“Beware the groove… beware the groove…”).
For those that are unfamiliar with the circuit training, it consists of a fenced-in area with a series of resistance/weight machines interspersed with steps or other cardio activity that are laid out in a particular order allegedly to maximize the muscle isometrics (the science jury is still out on that one). The point of this is to work on strength and tone while keeping the heart rate in a target zone. There are arguments in the fitness community about the value of this, but for me, it seems to be a good option (especially, again, when pressed for time). My approach to circuit training, and why it is the perfect solution to a lunchtime workout for me, is to do the resistance machines in order (as one is supposed to do). I generally do three sets of 12-15 repetitions on each one, but I don’t do the steps in between every machine. I usually just monitor my pulse and use the cardio to boost it if it drops out of the target range. The exception to this would be when the circuit training area is totally hoppin’. I then follow the prescribed routine to keep from disrupting the flow for others… or I just avoid the circuit training all together and opt for the other machines or free weights available outside the area.
There I was, in the circuit training and starting to work my way around the area from machine to machine, checking my pulse and using the interspersed steps in between… I had worked my way around to the military press machine and just finished it. I took my pulse and found that I was still in the target range. Completely in my groove, I moved with determination to the next machine. That’s when it happened…
He walked into the circuit training area with loose, saggy (and probably more-expensive-than-they-should-have-been) basketball shorts. Ball cap on backwards and sporting a t-shirt with the sleeves cut out. Before I realized what had happened, he stepped between me an my next machine. That’s right, he skipped the rest of the circuit completely, just cut me off in traffic and sat down to do some bicep curls accompanied by impressive huffing and grunting. At this point, I had the option of skipping past this machine to the next in line or use the cardio step. As I paused to reflect, another of the species came over to stand next to the first and slid into place at the machine as the first finished his set.
Suddenly, I had a completely overwhelming urge to be an ass… or kick one. I pictured myself delivering a champion, thermonuclear wedgie accompanied by a firm flip of the reversed baseball cap perched on the head of the original douchebag. I also pictured walking over and just standing there without saying anything. If either of the Neanderthals asked what I was doing, I would calmly explain the purpose of the circuit training area and excuse their ignorant rudeness as “I am certain that your egos have cut off the blood supply to the part of your brain that governs your ability to read or think or have manners.” My final fantasy option was to go over to one of the empty bicep machines that were just outside the circuit training area and visible to the pair of them proclaiming loudly as I did so, “I wish there was a bicep curl machine somewhere outside the circuit training area!!!”
I, of course, did none of these things, satisfying though they might have been. Instead, I heaved a great sigh, gave them a patented Ginsu-knife-eye-of-the-basilisk-witch-whammy glare, walked to the abdominal area to do some oblique work, and then finished up with another mile on the elliptical. Somehow, while much more righteous and mature, I’m pretty sure the imagined actions would have been a good deal more fun. BUT I would like to be able to continue using my gym, and taking the high road probably was the wiser option. However, for any of you out there reading this, be aware of the people around you and have some bloody manners!
Here endeth the rant… As you were.