SWEATING IN PUBLIC?

I’ve always preached against going to the gym. Why spend half an hour staring at a wall, when you could be enjoying the view while [insert activity here] outside? Fresh air – that’s what’ll do you good, not stuffy, conditioned gym air. And what do they say? – “If you look good after your workout, you didn’t work hard enough!” Somehow the gym showers don’t look that appealing, although going home all sweaty isn’t that attractive either!

However, open-minded, I signed up to the gym throughout the months of August and September. Now that I’ve trialled it, I’m expressing my thoughts on the whole ‘public workout’ palaver.


(I’ve included a typical ‘gym routine’, note that my personal trainer advised me against using weights because of my age, so it’s mostly cardio and bodyweight training.)

MY GYM ROUTINE:

1. WARM UP

  • Machine: Treadmill
  • Duration: 20 mins
  • Distance: 4km
  • Settings: Incline of 3; Speed of 12km/h (average)

2. UPPER BODY

  • Machine: Rower
  • Duration: 10 mins
  • Distance: 2km
  • Settings: Level 7/10

3. LEGS

  • Machine: Stationary Bike
  • Duration: 30mins
  • Distance: 12km
  • Settings: Cadence of 90rpm for 1 min, followed by 1 min flat-out

4. FULL BODY

  • Machine: Elliptical
  • Duration: 20 mins
  • Distance: 4km
  • Settings: 2 mins forwards, followed by 1 min backwards

5. CALVES/LOWER LEGS

  • Machine: Stepper
  • Duration: 10 mins
  • Settings: High speed, moving legs up and down quickly.

6. STRENGTHENING & CONDITIONING

  • A variety of exercises on the floor mats, often using a step, weighted balls and inflated gym balls: burpees, planks, crunches, leg raises, squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups etc.
  • Always finishing with 15 mins of deep stretches, see my “Runners’ Stretches” Post for more details.

I don’t know whether it’s the same with all leisure centres, but this particular one had a rather long-winded sign-up process. On striding up to the reception desk, I was given a huge sheet to fill in – when I say huge I mean like double page newspaper spread huge! Once my entire life story was complete, they than proceeded to take a picture of me on their webcam – obviously very high quality I expect, although I’ve never seen it *wonders why staff chuckle every time I sign-in*.

As part of my membership, I was given a session with a Personal Trainer to try out the machines and create a – rather basic – training schedule. Overall they were very informative and enthusiastic, taking me on a tour of all the machines. My brain raced to keep track of all the different settings and adjustments. To my trainer’s bewilderment, I’d never been on a treadmill before, so naturally they decided to fake me falling off “…and this is what happens when the safety chord unplugs” – real helpful, thanks a lot.

It wasn’t all that bad, I mean, after you’ve triple checked everything is in your bag (it was also a swimming membership, but I’ll get onto that in another post) broken several lockers and worked out the settings on said torture weapon of choice, everything’s AOK. The atmosphere, if a little sweaty, is extremely positive. I found myself surrounded by people who were making the conscious decision to become fitter, healthier and stronger. Everyone is incredibly supportive and it’s definitely an inspiring place to be in.

You get to know fellow members, from the extremely fit to the wanna-be-athletes, who all push you to try harder. I mean, it’s only logical: if you’re doing push-ups in your bedroom you won’t really bother about technique, however when you’re surrounded by people who really ‘know their stuff’ you learn the correct – and often hardest – way to complete an exercise. Whilst I enjoy the comfort of doing a few ‘Seven Minute HIITs’ in the front room, followed by a quick run outside my house, getting up at 7am and going to the gym, socializing, then returning home feeling like I’ve had the best start to my day is actually pretty amazing.

As I’ve never been a member of a running club before, my competitive side definitely took over; silent treadmill races were especially entertaining, not to mention the ‘who can get the incline up the highest without the treadmill toppling over’ game – I think the name’s quite catchy, to be honest.

So, my conclusion, no matter what the weather, if given the choice between the gym and an outdoor activity, I’ll opt to get some fresh air. However, if I want to surround myself with other fitness types (without simply scrolling through my Instagram feed) the gym is definitely a great place to be.

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