February 8, 2012

My new gym

A new project means many things. It means new flights (will I have to go to bed at 9pm on Sunday nights to wake up for a 5am flight? Will I get home at 6pm on Thursdays or not until midnight?). It means new working hours (Will this team start work at 8am, 9am, or somewhere in between? Will these be coworkers that are big on team dinners, so I never get to my hotel till 11pm?). And, since I’m on the road and relying on the mercy of my hotel fitness center, it means a new gym.

Every time I change projects, I have to adapt my gym routine in many ways. First, I have to assess the equipment. At my new hotel gym, there is no pullup bar, and not even something I can use as a substitute (like loading up the lat pulldown bar with 250 pounds so it’s immobile). Kara Goucher strength training plan? Not so easy to do pullups and chinups when I don’t have access to any kind of bar (aside from the alcohol-filled kind) four days a week. I have been slightly tempted to try out the shower curtain, but that just seems like a terrible idea.

Another factor is who is in the gym. One thing I loved about my hotel in Charlottesville was that at night, I seemed to be the only person who ever used it. In the mornings, I’d share with 2-3 other people, but there was plenty of cardio equipment to go around, and no one else ever seemed much interested in the free weights. Not so here in Kansas City! The hotel gym here is one of the smallest I’ve seen, and it seems to have a fairly loyal following.

Last night, there was only one other person when I got to the gym for my weight lifting routine, and he was finishing up. Score! But before I knew it, the gym filled up… with my coworkers. I suppose it’s inevitable, with all of us on the same work schedule and all of us eating the same heavy meals that require constant workouts to avoid the “Consulting 15.” But there’s something disconcerting about seeing your coworkers in muscle tees and short shorts (exactly the reason that I usually choose to work out during the week in capris and a race t-shirt). Furthermore, one of my coworkers seemed to be the macho type who wanted to show off… by using a 50 pound dumbbell to do kettlebell-like exercises. He was swinging the darn thing right at me on the weight bench as I was doing chest presses, and I was really terrified he was going to let it go and kill me where I lay. If it had been a stranger, I probably would have asked him to at least swing his massive weight toward the wall… but because it was a coworker, I felt a bit awkward saying anything. So much for safety first!

Tonight, I managed to get a gym free of coworkers… but full of everyone else. I tried to squeeze in some quick miles on the treadmill before I have to go to a team dinner, and all three treadmills, the bike, and both ellipticals were taken. I already did my weight lifting routine last night and so had clearly planned for tonight to be cardio – which meant the only option was the stepper machine. Fine by me – I’m good with any cardio. Until I tried it, and found that this was no usual stairstepper – but some crazy machine where you could vary whether it went up and down or round in circles based on where you put pressure with your feet. Furthermore, anytime I dared to touch the arm handles to incorporate some upper body, I suddenly found my feet spinning backward instead of forward. What the heck? A picture may be in order if I ever get the gym all to myself, but for now, anyone have any ideas what that was? On the plus side, it did get my heart rate up!

Now – off to a team dinner (where I will hopefully be good with my menu selections), and then back to actually get those treadmill miles in. I am determined not to let the chaos deter me!


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