I stumbled upon an article awhile ago that covered the basics of how to select a gym that fits your personal goals, style, and the type of workout that you prefer to do. I didn’t think much of it at the time I read it but now, with the semester drawing to a close in just a few short weeks, this left me wondering if it was time for me to find a new iron watering-hole. Since I won’t be spending as much time on campus I felt that I needed to relocate my fitness outlet a little more conveniently. You know – settle in for a summer filled with a lot of really good workouts.
Now, I have been in the ownership of a gym membership, to one of those shiny 24-hour chain gyms, nearly since I started lifting. Having an actual gym membership made me feel “serious” about what I was doing even though I didn’t spend a lot of time there. Mostly I consider my chain gym a backup option and only use it when the University is closed down over break or holiday. I wouldn’t consider it a waste that I have paid a monthly fee to use a gym that I very seldom visit, however. It has allowed me to stay consistent on my journey where many of my friends have missed several weeks of training. It was worth it to me.
But now I’m looking at the summer months approaching and I’m thinking, “I won’t be around campus much and I just cannot see myself spending the entire summer at my other gym, climate-controlled-elliptical-land, either.” It was time for a road trip, local trolling, to case out what few options there were available where I live in hopes of finding a new gym.
It was a beautiful afternoon for trolling. It really was.
You know those perfect afternoons where you feel completely free? Brimming with curiosity and tempted to walk into every corner bakery and rustic pizza shop you happen upon? It’s a fortuitous thing that I care so much about my diet or I would be getting around in a whale net by now, to be honest with myself… But I had one of those afternoons. The sunshine was bright, the windows were rolled down, my toes rejoiced in flip-flops, my face struggled under a pair of sunglasses too fabulous for their own good…
I was high trollin’ .
I knew exactly what I was looking for in my new gym but I was not holding my breath on finding it. Especially after I passed over a couple of closet’s with mustard-colored walls and shared changing rooms. Finally I ran across a very fair looking building, with a proud sign out front that proclaimed “Fitness Center”, and I pulled over. What? Ho! Another pizza bistro! I averted my gaze and crossed the street. I pressed myself against the window and shielded the afternoon sunlight that obscured my gaze through the glass pane. It was big in there. It was also on a higher level than the street so I couldn’t see that much. The door was locked, of course, and there appeared to be nobody inside to give me a tour. I was a little disappointed but took the number down that was on the window and planned to call for some information later.
There was also a small nutrition store down the street that had escaped my initial notice and I decided that this, too, deserved further inspection. I looked around there, purchased a healthy chilled peach tea, and spoke for quite some time with the shop keep. I said something about how I would really like to find a way into the gym down the street and, just then, a spunky little Pontiac pulled up to the curb outside. The girl behind the counter said, ”Get with them.”
Peach tea in hand I galavanted out into the street. Spunky car, spunky boys. Far too young for me. Whatever.
“Hey there! Are you guys going into the gym? I’m looking for a new one – like to get a tour around if I could…”
Success! I sauntered in through a door held wide open. What? Ho! Not pizza, but complimentary towels. Good sign.
Up the ramp to the main floor and the gym seemed to spread out before me. It was system overload for my eyes and I wasn’t sure where to look first, so many details screamed to be noticed, and then there was the general ambience to consider. The place was big all right. It was like taking a step back in time thirty years, too. I was looking around for Arnold a little. I didn’t want to over stay my welcome so I made a quick tour by sashaying around the perimeter and stepping up to a few machines I had never seen before. Here are some words that described this fantastic place:
Low-light. Spacious. Older equipment, but pristine. Super clean. Super quiet. Well laid out. My favorite station playing on the radio.
It was one of those gyms that gives you the urge to jump in the squat-rack, hang weights all over yourself, and make your fat cry for mercy. It was just perfect! It had everything I could have asked for in a gym. The gym I learned to workout in was small, dingy, very dirty, stuffy, and full of athletes. So I got fairly used to getting down and dirty during my workout. The chain gym had a good array of equipment which was something I liked about it. This new gym had it all, though.
I like to walk in and throw my bag in a corner, spend a few minutes stretching, and head for something heavy. My main priority was finding a gym that was down with me dripping sweat on the floor, making some noise, and not look out of place if I wasn’t wearing a matching track-suit while I watched Real Housewives of Somewhere on the treadmill. Not that watching Real Housewives is a bad thing (I like Food Network myself!) but my style can tip on the side of business-like as I move around the floor. To find a gym with like-minded goer’s was paramount to my personal comfort and sense of belonging in my workout ‘zone’.
When you are searching for your gym, your fitness home away from home, be specific enough in what you are searching for that you can write down a list of “must haves” using just a word or two to describe them. That will help you become clearer in what it is you are truly searching for and it will help you recognize them when you walk through the door to the right place. It’s out there and when you find it you will feel inspired, motivated, and excited to break everything in.
Happy searching! I hope you find your perfect soul-gym. I think I found mine.
Until next time – Cs.
I poke curiously at both of these things. Like poking toads in puddles with sticks. Like, “what is this?”
Curious in a I-may-do-something-about-it fashion.
For the record I have never poked little toads with sticks. That is heinous. Nope, not me.
In my part of the world we are throwing open our windows and doors, hanging up the sweaters, and getting sunburned on the back of our necks. Frankly, I cannot wait until I am in shorts and a tank-top and still sweating. I like my summers plenty warm and soggy. When it is finally warm enough to lay by the pool I will be in heaven. It has felt like a long winter of dark and dreary mornings on the way to work and class where freedom and sunshine are now overdue. I certainly hope Spring is springing for you wherever you are, as well. It’s a beautiful time of year, and…
SHORTS AND TANK TOPS?
Oh yes. That means the season of baring (mostly) all is upon us. So how is it with you and that last bit of winter fluff? Those last five? Is it tight, toned, smooth, and ready to be tanned and displayed? I’m not talking about that Mule Deer you bagged in the mountains.
Well, I can most certainly say that I have completely…fallen short. Of my overall goal for March.
Back in September when I really started throwing the iron hard I surmised that I should emerge around this time of year looking as though I could step on-stage and snatch the Miss Olympia title. I will admit that I have been in a pretty deep funk this last week about this. Over these last months I spent a small fortune on whey protein, hit the weights five times a week, never missed a dose of supplement, and I still do not look like a Figure champion. But do you know what I am??
I am in the best shape of my life.
Those people who tell you that the pursuit of bodybuilding takes time, consistency, and patience? They’re right. I started researching some of my favorite fitness personalities and re-discovered that it took them years (sometimes 10+) to sculpt themselves into their current shape. They all admit that it is an ongoing, daily, effort to maintain and build on their results. So it took me twenty years to get good and squishy – realistically, it is going to take more than seven months to convert my squish to steel.
Whatever you do please don’t do what I did this weekend.
I know enough to have realized that the time has come for me to lighten the weights and increase the reps. I have built the muscle (seven pounds of it) and it’s time to get it to show. My diet is always 100% clean but just eating clean will no longer be enough. Macro ratios will come into play, so will counting calories, and lets not forget cardio. A friend of mine from my University gym tipped me off about a wonderful little application for your phone called, Lose It! Just plug in what you eat, where you eat (it has restaurant information too), and it will give you the honest truth. It will also make you paranoid if, like me, you have never counted calories and have no idea what you are doing. Keep Calm and Count On.
This weekend I felt…depressed. So I ate a bad meal. Which led to another. Which led to a weekend that, honestly, undid every bit of good I accomplished in my diet earlier in the week. You can imagine how upset I was with myself. Usually I am the girl sitting in the buckboard at the front of the Bandwagon, whipping the reins, and screaming cowboy yippy yo ki-yay’s. The wagon hit a terrible bump, I obviously flew out of my seat, rolled out of the back, and bit the trail dust. Hard.
It’s Tuesday, I am back on track, and shamefully recovering. I am trying my best to find a new balance in the midst of this new program, not sweat the small things, and remember the rule of 90/10. It’s what you do 90% of the time that matters! When you are juggling the type of lives that we all lead: school, work, family, bodybuilding, diet, social – it get’s rough.
In conclusion, we are occasionally unseated in our efforts. Shimmy back on that pony and hang on a little tighter. Show it what all those Deadlift’s and Lateral Lunges have done for your strength. Keep working, stay consistent, and enjoy this weather. That’s what I’ll be doing.
Until next time – Cs.
It’s lavender awesomeness on a plate!
I nearly considered the above as the title for this post but thought better of it. Lavender Awesomeness just does not sound particularly appetizing, however, this is quite possibly the prettiest thing that I have ever made. I am not sure if I enjoyed making it, eating it, or staring at it the most to be honest. The best part is that it is CLEAN and relatively not-so-bad for you! I think that you will find the macro and caloric breakdown of this pie favorable because, depending on your meal, you can comfortably fit a slice of this into your eating plans.
Here is the recipe for this lovely pie:
- 1 cup Old-Fashioned or Quick Cooking Oats
- 1 cup Oat Flour
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Stevia or Xylitol (Honey Will Work)
- 1/3 cup 0% Non-Fat Organic Milk
- 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
- 1 or 2 Drops Artificial “Butter” Flavor *Optional – Add’s Richness
- 2 cups Reduced Fat Ricotta Cheese
- 1 cup 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 cup Stevia or Xylitol
- 2 tbsp Key Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 cups Blueberries (If Frozen, Thaw Slightly)
Nutritional Information: Per Serving – 195 Calories (Carbs. 20g, Fat 9g, Protein 10g)
Yes, there is a whopping 10 grams of protein per slice. Plain 0% Greek Yogurt is wonderful.
Until next time, enjoy — Cs.
A compound exercise that has the ability to make your legs scream for mercy. Among other body parts. Which is probably why they are my favorite exercise. I currently train my legs twice per week and never, ever, overlook the power of squats. My favorite variation of these is to perform them while standing with your heels on a plate. Try it and see what it does for your quads.
Barbell Squats can be somewhat dangerous, too.
I have known people to lose their balance, or struggle under too much weight, tip the bar, and …
Ninety pounds. That was my personal best for a long, long time. In the gym I fly solo because workout partners can be really hard to come by. For me the workout commitment is five days a week, five pounds are paperweights, and rolling around on the floor doing abdominal training is how I cool down. Ellipti-what?
It was time to break the 100 pound barrier. But I needed a spotter.
One of the guys at my gym that I’ve known for some time agreed to help me on the days I trained lower body. We were adding weight to the bar fairly steadily so I felt comfortable confessing my goal to him. I wanted to squat 170 by mid-March. So this had become a ritual twice a week since the first of February and in just shy of five weeks I reached my goal: 175 pound squats for reps of eight. I was on Cloud Nine.
High fives ensued and I stood breathless, feeling squished in my weight belt from sheer excitement, staring at the motionless bar as it now hung, still loaded, on the rack. Defeated.
“Will you keep going heavier?”
I have been going heavy for awhile and really felt like it was time to drop the weight a little and increase the reps to try and lean out the muscle I have been building. Therefore, I answered with a “probably not, no.” However, when someone who can bench press twice his own weight asks you if you will keep going, it makes you stop and consider how simple is the path to success. You just keep going. I now question whether “probably not” is at all effectual in the alacrity of my goal trouncing desires.
DISCLAIMER: This does mean I aspire to bench press double my weight, too.
But I will certainly keep pushing hard in the gym. That’s how progress is made. You “keep going heavier.”
Who knows — maybe I’ll get back under that bar and shoot for 200.
Until next time — Cs.
Lately I have been getting busy with William…
Shakespeare, that is.
A paper on poetry and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Another on plays and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Now there are Sonnets spinning in my head and Hamlet threatens to change the way I speak forever. Just this morning I was in a bit of a rush to get to class, and suddenly had the urge to yell “FORSOOTH! I wilt be late for class…!” as I ran out the door. My trusty pickup sat outside glistening in the morning light and again Shakespearian language threatened like Medieval Tourette’s Syndrome, “Stand ho! Cs., legion to the Norsky’s, direly needs a ride to campus! What say you knavish Chevy? Can I count on thee?”
Eh. I needed to decompress and what better than:
I absolutely adore grocery shopping. New stuff. Different stuff. People to watch (depending on the store).
I consider decoding labels and nutritional information a personal challenge from the food industry to test my survival skills. There is also a possibility that I experience sadistic amusement when the cashier stares blankly down at my edible oddities before searching the cheat-sheet for the appropriate code (even though they still aren’t sure what they’re looking for).
For fun, I snapped a photo of my shopping basket today while in the checkout line. Thought a list of what I bought might also serve as a potentially interesting accompaniment and as a clean eater’s case-study.
Organic 0% Fat Milk 2% Milkfat Cottage Cheese Reduced Sodium Canned Beans (Black, Pinto, Kidney, and Garbonzo) Sardines – in Water Low Sugar Strawberry Preserves Coffee – Vanilla Biscotti (I love my flavors!) Organic Apples Cucumbers White Button Mushrooms Bananas Pre-Washed Spinach Soynut Butter Mixed Fruit – Frozen Dried Prunes – No Sugar Added Various “Natural” Cosmetics/Toiletries
There you have it! A look inside my grocery cart. Usually I’ll have more lean proteins but I still had plenty in the freezer.
Until next time – Cs.