The other day my wife asked me to come to the local recreation center to join her for a Spin class. If you have been following my blog you will remember me saying “I will never take another one of those torture classes again,” after my wife kicked my butt the last time I went with her. I decided to go along to try out their newly renovated gym while she pedaled her butt off in a fruitless effort to go nowhere. Here are my thoughts on this memorable eye opening experience.
Owning your own facility has its perks. You can train whenever you want, you know where everything is and there is no one asking, “Can I work in a set?” You forget, however, that the rest of the world works out in cluttered, equipment packed, busy sweatboxes called the local gym. In my early days I used to train exclusively at rec centers. You can’t beat the price considering you get the gym and full access to the pool, hot tub and steam rooms for $5. The sense of community and being able to share communicable diseases makes it a great environment to meet people and build up your immune system at the same time.
I decided to attack this workout from a different angle. Normally I train functionally using Kettlebells, free weights, ropes and bands. For this workout I was going to be kicking it at old school! Machines, machines, machines and throw in a few exercises using more machines.
A quick warm up on the treadmill beside all the middle aged moms. Every one of them doing long slow cardio praying that their efforts will work off the processed dinner in a box they fed their family night before. A few HIIT intervals, dynamic warm up and I am ready for my first machine! How about I just ease into this whole machine thing with a good old-fashioned bench press.
There was an enormous muscle bound beast of a man beside me performing an incline bench press with more weight than my house and two cars combined. I decided to up my bench weight an extra plate on each side to show him I meant business. He asked me if I wanted a spot and I declined. First mistake! I then made the second mistake of adding one rep too many to my final set and found myself pinned. I had thoughts of He-Man having to save my life by one arming the bar off my chest.
Somehow I found the strength to get the bar to the first racking position and then slide myself safely away without anyone noticing. What the hell was I thinking? If I saw one of my athletes do this I would have killed them.
I thought I would take a break from the old school workout and check out their “Functional Corner.” This is an area reserved for those who do not require a steel framed contraption to guide their movements while getting their pump on. When I saw the selection of gear they had I instantly made a mental note: bring them a Perform Better catalogue next time I visit.
I then created a little deadlift, single arm snatch and landmine rotational circuit area for myself. I was half way through my first exercises when a member of the training staff asked me to remove the equipment from the area due to section 465 of the facilities rules of engagement document that states that you are only able to use one piece at a time. Oh well, I guess it is back to the machines.
It is so hard to watch the general public butchering the various exercises they saw in this months Men’s Health magazine. I bit my lip every time I saw an elderly fellow pull the lat bar behind his neck, young muffin tops performing tricep kickbacks with mesh fingerless gloves and weight belt wearing toothpick legged men curling preacher bars in the mirror. I kept telling myself that they are not my clients, they are not my responsibility and it is great that they are getting off the couch and doing something somewhat productive.
My wife finished her Spin class and was wiping the sweat off her brow when she asked me how my workout went. I thought for a second that maybe I should have just joined her for the stationary bike race……. but I would never tell her that!