I have to say that I went into all of this with some preconceived notions, which seemed to be justified. After all, I did belong to a health club, this same one in fact, from 1988 to 1992. The thing is, that’s about the age of most kids getting ready to go to college, 18 years, and obviously a few things stayed the same, but many things have changed. And some thoughts I had going in aren’t the same as they were when I joined either. So, I figured I would share my 10 truths about health clubs to see if people agree, disagree, or whatever emotion it garners.
1. It does take more than just exercising to start seeing real changes. This means that even if I did 1,000 stomach crunches a day and ran 10 miles a day that there probably wouldn’t be all that much difference in my body if I didn’t change how I ate; that stinks! Yeah, I know we already read about this concept of diet and exercise, but if you weren’t doing either one wouldn’t you think that just adding one of these would still be a pretty significant change? We first visited the health club on May 7th, signed up for the free 7 day trial on May 9th and started working out on that day; that’s 59 days ago. I went in with two main goals; lose weight and bring glucose down. To date, I’ve not lost any weight except for the 9 pounds I gained within weeks after starting. My glucose hasn’t come down one bit. However, I have lost an inch off my stomach and hips. I also gained 3 1/2 inches on my left thigh and an inch on my right; that wasn’t supposed to happen. So I’ve backed off weights for my legs, kicked up stomach crunches because a smaller stomach isn’t a bad thing, work on reaching my cardio heart rate goal, and modified my eating habits a bit.
2. Once you get used to a routine, you’re supposed to change it up so you start hurting again. Okay, soreness, since that’s what they prefer you to say, but so be it. This means always increasing either the weight or the number of reps. They say if you’re not feeling any discomfort after awhile then you’re not really doing anything. Bah!
3. Guys are bigger than they used to be. You know, I’m not a small guy. When I used to go to the health club, I was never a big muscle guy. But the guys who were big muscle guys were pretty much my size, just more muscular. These days, young people are bigger and taller than we were, and thus when they work out they’re absolutely huge. I have to admit that I hadn’t noticed that kind of size difference in guys until I joined the health club; that’s somewhat intimidating, and I’m not used to that. I have to keep reminding myself when I’m alone that there’s no way I can get that big, so don’t even try.
4. Women are still hot. I’m glad that didn’t change, but something you see more these days are these really tall ladies who get on the treadmills and run like the wind. When I was originally going it was always the short ladies who ran on treadmills, so that’s another change.
5. Men don’t wear socks anymore; they wear “socklets”. When did this happen? I don’t pay any attention to fashion, but my wife tried talking me out of wearing my regular athletic socks the one day I decided to show up in shorts. I wore them anyway, then found that only myself and one man probably in his 70’s were wearing them like that. I always thought ankle socks were for little girls; I am still freaking out about this one. I now only wear sweats so my long socks stay hidden; the socklets just feel, well, weird. Maybe one day I’ll get used to it; maybe not.
6. You just can’t look cool while working out. Okay, this one I think I already knew, because I certainly didn’t look all that cool when I used to work out. But I’m coming to grips with some things that I just can’t do; my wife hasn’t really learned this one, though. For instance, I used to participate in a high impact aerobics class; that’s not happening for me. My wife has not only tried going into one of those, but she also went into one of those weight classes and then a yoga/pilates class and injured herself badly enough to need medical treatment and a week or rest. I have to fight all the time walking over and yanking the heaviest weights like I see the younger folks doing. I know I can get it up; heck, until I realized I wanted my thighs getting smaller I was pushing 300 pounds. But that’s not me, so for me, it’s lower weights, more reps, and not looking cool but not hurting myself either.
7. At a certain point in one’s life, they just learned not to care what others think. I admit it, I have some body issues. One on one, I can suppress them, since I like massage. In public, though, it’s just not happening with me. In the hot tub story I talked about men with no behinds. Well, you see all sorts of stuff in a health club that equals or comes close to that; almost nothing will surpass it. You find yourself often wanting to say “cover that up”, but it is what it is.
8. People are nasty. Okay, this is a different direction, and maybe my wife and I are just fastidious people. At the end of using a piece of equipment, we wipe stuff down. There’s a sign asking people to do that. However, almost no one does it, and that’s just nasty. Some machines I actually wipe down before I use them. If there’s head sweat involved I wipe them down. If there’s the potential that I might have followed a heavy back sweating person, I wipe that piece of equipment down first. It can’t be an only child thing since my wife is one of 7, but she’s also in health care and knows sterilization processes, and she’s not having it. I’m not either; ick!
9. There’s a fine line between knowing your limits and suddenly being beyond them. The people at the health club are always saying to step it up. Well, I’ve seen some people stepping it up to the point where suddenly there’s a “pop” and, uh-oh, we won’t be seeing you for a few weeks. Frankly, one of the gripes I have about the health club is that the only training you’re going to get at all is if you pay for it after your first complimentary session. I’ve seen people doing things that my mind has said “someone should show that person how to use that thing”. Heck, the first week that “person” was myself and my wife, the supposed health club expert. When I was younger, I’d just do a machine I didn’t know how to use and risk the consequences; these days, I look and study, and if I can’t figure it out, I’m not using it. I think there should be a trainer on hand at least during peak periods, walking around and making sure people are using the equipment properly.
10. Smoothies are refreshing; are they healthy? Seems it depends on who you ask and who’s making them. This young lady who I get mine from, and only if she’s working, has learned that I won’t drink it if there’s not enough chocolate in it. She’s also stopped adding yogurt to mine and makes it only with ice; tastes good to me. She says it’s saving me at least 150 calories, and she’s adding something in it called “burn”, which is supposed to keep my metabolic system burning more calories throughout the day. I have no clue, and I’m not going to worry about it. Taste, especially chocolate, rules my life.
There you go; long post, but that’s what it takes to get through 10 points. If you belong to a health club, do you see any of these things yourself?