Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I once vowed never to join a Gym.

About this time last year I vowed not to join a gym. Bill Nye said it best when he said "The bicycle is a big part of our future. It has to be: there's something wrong with a society that drives a car to a gym for exercise."

I've decided I won't go faster on my bike without putting more force through the pedals. My local Gold's Gym is ten bucks a month. The fine print says I pay $30 a year in October. Whoopty freaking doo. Gym membership is $150 a year. A bargain compared to the cost of weights needed to achieve suggested "load goals" for specific exercises as spelled out in The Cyclist's Training Bible.

I have been doing some body weight exercises to facilitate my desire to get stronger, but I found those got real easy within 3 weeks. Add more resistance in the form of 20lb dumbbells? Easy again within a week. A $10/mo gym membership is the most economical answer to the question of "How do I make my bicycle's rear tire smoke like those connected to a 1,000hp twin turbo V8 nestled between the fenders of a 1987 Buick?"

My power goals look something like this, only noisier

I haven't set foot in a gym in well over a dozen years. Sure, the cardio machines have televisions and the snack bar offers more than just fruit juices with protein powder, but one thing has not changed: the people.

There's a group who go to the gym with no real plan. They sit at one machine, do 5 or so reps with way too much resistance, huff, puff and sweat all over said machine for 2-3 minutes, do three more reps, huff, puff and sweat some more, and then leave the machine drenched in sweat for the next user. They'll cruise the floor for an hour visiting random machines repeating this behavior. These people are often "in the/my/your way". I call them "randomizers".

There's also a group of "dude-bros", the folks who practically live at the gym with the sole goal of becoming "fit". Not that there's anything wrong with spending all of your spare time exercising with like-minded folks....

I don't understand the cardio-crazed, the people who can't get enough of the treadmill. I don't get how anyone can run in place for an hour or more while staring at a tv screen. I know what you're thinking, and yes, my road bike is currently clamped into my indoor trainer. I use it for spin-up drills and isolated leg work. I wouldn't consider cruising with a steady 135bpm heart rate for two hours while watching TV. That would absolutely kill the joy of cycling for me.

Then there's the geeks. They have a very clear goal in mind when they set foot in the gym. Exercise A leads to result B, which leads to Goal C. They are probably using the gym to supplement progress in another activity like basket weaving or chess. Maybe a sport like cycling. Some might even carry around a pencil and paper to track progress.

While I still consider working out in a gym to be a form of madness, I have a method to it.

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