maxcelcat: (Dancing Kitty)
Thursday night I was at the gym for one of my two regular weekly visits. I'm a diligent gym goer, but not a body builder. And I log everything I do on those gym program cards they give you, partly so I can keep track because otherwise I forget where I'm up to or what I've done, and partly because I must be a bit OCD! I log all my weights and reps and so forth.

(For the record my current program is a sort-of pyramid program. I do two sets of a medium weight, then one set of the heaviest weight I can budge. It's also the program I created after taking two months off after getting my appendix out (I really should blog about that) and is heavy on machines rather than free weights.)

I write my own programs these days, without consulting the staff. And I've been stapling my new cards to my old cards so now I have a wad of about six of them, going back probably a couple of years. Partly out of laziness - I really should take them home, or recycle them, I don't really need to know what exercises I was doing this time last year.

The process at my gym is to fill in the card, then leave it in a tray so the staff can sign off that you actually did the work - I think that's the point.

The other night I was one of the last to leave, and the gym guy was putting the programs away and said he'd file mine for me. Then he said "Oooo, you're Paul Johanson."

Turns out I'm slightly famous at the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

I'm one of very few people who actually diligently fills in my gym card, and then files them away and keeps them. I'm also one of few people who is there consistently for years at a time - most people join and work out for a few weeks or a few months, then disappear. And I thought about it, and he was right. In the years I've been going to that gym there are maybe two or three people at most whom I've seen consistently. The rest, for whatever reason, come and then go. Maybe they move house, maybe they lose interest. It's always busier at the start of the year, I assume because lots of people make new years resolutions.

For the record, I first joined a gym, the RMIT gym, in early June of 1998. Since some time in 2000, I've been working out twice a week, with a few gaps whilst traveling or because of the aforementioned surgery. I've been a member of the NAARC gym for two stints, from 2000 till 2003 and then again from 2005 till now (wow that's a decade, I should get a prize). I've only belonged to four gyms in 17 years - RMIT, Brunswick, Southport in Port Melbourne and NAARC, although I have worked out in others, notably Gold's Gym in New York. Once I found a form of exercise that suited me, I've stuck at it!

Hooray for dogged persistence.
maxcelcat: (Cat Go Blah Blah Blah)
It was around this time in 1998 I first joined a gym. This was significant, prior to that, I'd never ever done regular exercise. Partly because I didn't own a bike, partly because I hated team sports, and probably partly because when I was a kid I couldn't because of a bung hip. Perthes Disease if you're interested.

I can't tell you exactly what inspired me to join the gym. I was 28, and I put on a lot of weight in my early twenties. Drinking my way through University had assisted that, and living on hamburgers. And also, one's body changes over time, and by your mid-twenties, it starts storing way more fat than it had before. Remind me to mention this to my son as he reaches that age!

So I joined a gym, and I liked it. Although it took me a few years to really start going really regularly.

Those of you who've met me in real life, will know I'm sort of a big chap. So load bearing exercise suited me well, and still does. I'm not a body builder, which is a whole other level of commitment, I'm just some guy who likes to work his muscles. I put in my headphones and get on with it - the headphones also help to drown out the god-awful music they play at gyms. Mine seem to have Channel-V on all the time, so I get to catch really bad music videos too.

I'd always thought of gym's as the province of the meathead, until I realised that a lot of ordinary people work out as well. And a lot of meatheads, but happily there aren't too many of them at the places I frequent. I'd also read that a certain percentage of regular gym goers have the male equivalent of anorexia. For some reason, knowing that there were neurotics working out made it more like my kind of place!

In that fifteen years I've only belonged to four gyms. Let me think... There was RMIT, then Brunswick Baths gym, then Northcote Aquatic Centre, a ritzy gym in Port Melbourne which was called Southport when I was there, it's called something else now. And then Northcote again. In the mean time, I've also lifted weights at the YMCA and Gold's gyms in New York, a shitty gym in Newcastle called City Gym, two gyms in Adelaide, including one on Rundle Mall, plus a couple in the UK and... that's about it. Weird that I can remember them all. The gym in Newcastle had equipment which barely worked, and which looked dangerous. The gym in Lewisham in London was cramped and I found a magazine for Australian expats there.

I shall now celebrate by flexing my biceps!
maxcelcat: (Milkshake)
Hey, some weeks back I promised to write an entry about my now decade-long dedication to being a gym bunny. So here goes.

As of June/July, I have been lifting weights for ten years. Although it was really only in about 2000/2001 that I started going really routinely. Before that it was once or twice a week, all a bit haphazard. Then, I broke up with a woman called Leigh, who I had known since high school, and found myself with more spare time. So I decided to head to the gym three times week, some of that just cardo.

But backing up a little. The first gym I ever joined was at RMIT in 1998, which was well after I should have graduated. I kept working out there while I worked in the city at Ticketmaster, until I eventually decided that the gym in the Brunswick pool was closer to home.

In fact, in that ten years, I've only actually been a member of four gyms. RMIT, Brunswick Baths, Northcote, and Southport, which was on the sea shore in Port Melbourne, when I lived down that way in 2004.

I tried to take some photos of my biceps etc. (Vanity? I don't know what you mean :-P ) but they came out crap - pictures of hairy spotty arms and even hairier pecs! So I'll spare you the sight of them. Suffice to say, I do have biceps, I swear.

OK, can't quite remember where I was going with this. So I'll just make a random list of all the other gyms I've been to, in no particular order:

* The gym in the Melbourne Aquatic Centre.
* A gym in Newcastle, possibly "Kings", when I was there for work once
* Newtown gym in Sydney, still remember the faux pas I committed when I said I wasn't going to be in town for Mardis Gras!
* A gym on a park in Adelaide
* Another Gym, on the seventh floor of a building in the centre of Adelaide. Might have been there twice.

I've been a member at Northcote on two separate occasions. I was going to look for a new gym, but recently they've more than doubled the size of it, and bought a whole pile of new equipment.

Ten Years

May. 29th, 2008 10:57 pm
maxcelcat: (The Good The Bad and The Ugly)
Hmmm. If memory serves me well, some time next week will be the tenth anniversary of my joining a gym. Something I will blog about in more detail, but it was definitely around this time in 1998 that I started pumping iron :-)
maxcelcat: (What Would Henry Rollins Do?)
I've been working out (lifting weight, going to the Gym, whatever you want to call it) for about nine and a half years now. Which is both dedicated and getting a bit complicated.

Because I've pretty much done every exercise you can possibly imagine. Until they invent some new machine or something. Smith machine squats: check. Preacher Curls: check. Skull crushers (a tricep exercise which ends with a barbell resting on your forehead!): check.

But one thing I have never done is write a program of my own. I had a somewhat postponed reassessment today, so I thought it high time to put one together...

Only to discover I have only a partial clue about it. Each program tends to be divided into sets of muscles - back, chest, shoulders etc. I had a vague lists of exercises I wanted to do, but I couldn't for the life of me remember which part of the body the were for. Is the one arm raise a back or a chest exercise? Anyway, some areas were easy, arms (hammer curls, tricep pull down), legs (the aforementioned smith machine squats, calf raises) and abs (roman chair, superman raises, hover). But the rest I wasn't sure about, so I just wrote them all down and hoped for the best.

And I did well, I more or less wrote out my whole program. The rather fetching gym instructor lady merely wrote it up for me and gave me some suggestions for how to do the sets.

I'll be buffed in no time *tenses pecs*
maxcelcat: (Dancing Kitty)
Had me a re-assessment at the gym a few weeks back, and was given a new program. For you non-gym-bunnies out there, doing the same exercises for too long doesn't work. Your body gets used to the movements and you can't really improve that particular set of muscles anymore. At least, so I am told by the gym instructors, who have been known to get things wrong in the past. In this case, I tend to believe them, it's amazing how one aches in a different way doing a different set of exercises.

Anyway, as I was saying, a nice instructor at the Gym wrote a new program for me. A weird program. A very weird program. It has an exercise in it I've never done before.


Which has led me to a disturbing discovery...

I can't skip.

I mean, really, I can't skip. There's something about the rhythm of it I just can't do. Probably related to my inability to do any dance other than moshing. I spin the rope and then do one of the following:
  • Hit myself in the back of the head
  • Get it tangled around my feet
  • Simply hit my feet
  • Get it caught between my legs or
  • Hit the aircon vent on the ceiling.

Not to mention that it is in essance jumping up an down on the spot. Which is not easy for someone of my, ahem, bulk. I think the most actual skips I've put together in a row is about twenty two. I'm supposed to do two sets of 300. I've more or less given up. I try it every now and again, then get frustrated and give up.

One thing I have noticed: the weight of the rope makes a big difference. The heavier the rope, the better, there must be something to do with the throw weight.

Ah well, back to the drawing board.
maxcelcat: (Flashy)
Yo. Again, I've left this far too long between updates. But hey, I've been busy, including a two day trip to NSW on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

Anyway, it was around this time nine years ago that I started working out. Although it was only around 2000 or 2001 that I started going really regularly, three times a week. Priory to that I was an intermittent gym goer, after that I was an insane gym junkie :-)

I was going to get [ profile] evildoom_bunny to take a picture of a couple of my muscles, but decided against on the basis of taste and lack of available light!

About two months ago, I got the nice man at the gym to write me a new program. I've had some interesting programs over the years, and it's been a while since I've seen a new exercise. But the new program he put together for me was insane! It must have had twice as many exercises as any I'd done before. I quickly realised there was no way known I was going to be able to do them all in one session, so I pruned out the one's I didn't really like. Three sets of three exercises for one set of muscles is a bit too much. But I kept some of the hard ones. For example, doing squats with 80 Kilos. The first time I did them (actually, three sets: 12 times 60 kilos, 10 times 70, 8 times 80 kilos) I could hardly walk the next day. Which is probably a good sign.

One of the things I've been doing, this time around, which I probably should have done more in the past, is what they call pressing to failure. I've been wary about this idea, partly because it hurts. But then, after nine years of lifting weights, something has to change to see any improvement at all.

Pressing to failure basically means you keep working a muscle or a muscle group until it simply ceases to function. I'm told it actually tears the muscle fibres, which then grow back stronger. But then, I've been told a lot of half-true things by gym instructors in the past... They might know what works, but they don't always know the real reason why.

It's a weird experience, working (say) my biceps till they stop working. I pick up the two dumbbells, 17.5 kilos each, lift one, then the other, then the first until... my arm simply stops responding. It's weird - you're sending the "command" to your arm, and nothing happens. "Lift" I say, or flex or whatever it is that my brain says to my arm. And it tries, but nothing occurs. Maybe a slight twitch. It's all I can do to get the weights back onto the rack. It must be a slight inkling of what it's like to be paralyzed. Except of course my arms still work afterwards, with a dull ache.

And it seems to be effective.

Oh, and there are occasionally new exercises one comes across. There's another instructor at my gym (Northcote Aquatic Centre BTW) who invents his own. I once saw him doing a stretch which I can't adequately describe - he had his forearms on a bench, his head underneath it, and only his toes on the floor... Strangely, my regime seems slightly less crazy by comparison!

Anyway, probably time I showered off all this sweat and went to bed...

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