Tag Archives: workout

Buns of Steal

Gym rage. This is like the equivalent of ‘roid rage, but omitting the steroids.

I went to another new gym today. This particular location was surprisingly quiet considering how many plates were amassed on all the machines. Here is a tip: if you can push 8 plates quietly, you are doing it wrong. Although being surrounded by workouts of a minimal range of motion was unimpressive, that was not was made me mad.

Side note: Isn’t it interesting how each gym has its own different atmosphere from every other gym? I would love to study the differences in training efficiency based on the “feel” in the gym. Once I figure out how to measure “feel”…

Anyways, since this was my first time here, I was unsure of where everything was and where to go just to be out of the way. In my gym, I know the popular and unpopular spots so when I need space I know right where to go. How comfortable. After consecutively lunging myself into peoples’ way, I took the last available bench to do Bulgarian split squats. Just to clarify I have my back foot on the bench and drop down into a low lunge. This is not a picture of me, but it is the best picture Google has to offer. If this woman jumped her right foot a little more and dropped down a little lower she could do a Buns of Steel workout video instead of these textbook pictures. Fun fact: try using the seat on a machine instead so you can adjust the height. That booty won’t build itself!

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Sorry I got a little distracted there. Gym etiquette would state that I am equal to that moron curling in the squat rack while you’re waiting to squat so I was keeping an eye out for anyone who actually needed a bench. Sure enough, a girl about my age starts lurking me and comes to hang out uncomfortably close by. As I finish the end of my first set  I say, “Hey do you need to use a bench? I can do this anywhere”. Please note I actually said that these can be done anywhere. She says yes and moves in but as I walk away I see her reflection in the mirror doing exactly what I was doing. I just about choked on my Gatorade. Is there no such thing as gym etiquette anymore?!

So I did what anyone would have done… I sent some aggressively capitalized text messages to all of my friends who work out. I especially emphasized that she wasn’t going low enough for it to be a workout. That is what really made me mad. Once my phone hit low battery I decided to resume my workout and then I noticed she was just following me. Shamelessly; there was awkward eye contact, note taking on her ipad, and just her tagging right along.

I guess this is just a compliment but let me tell you, I would be much more flattered to have someone come up to me and just say: “I like the way you look, could you recommend some exercises”. Or maybe she just didn’t know any exercises and I was picked at random. Regardless, if you copy someone’s workout and you catch up to them, do not kick them off what they are doing.

Actually now that I think about it, it is pretty funny. However, not an effective way to workout.

At least we are all in the gym!!

5years

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Ch-ch-changes

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is get too comfortable. Despite my lack of philosophical insight or all-knowing wisdom, I speak based on experience.

We underestimate our capabilities and overestimate how ideal repetition seems to be. I doubt that anyone laying on their death bed would say, “I regret all those times I tried something new”. It is hard to look back on a year, month, or even a week, and feel like your feet are in the same place wearing down footprints in the ground. Our footprints should be spaced far and barely leaving a mark before the next one is planted.

Today, D and I worked out at a different gym. New faces, new equipment, completely different atmosphere, and most importantly- new people to race on the treadmills. Even though we are going from one gym to another gym, it allows enough fresh air and change of scenery to clear your mind. Because nothing clears your mind like body odor and the sound of weights crashing, am I right?

This was a great time in discomfort, just in a small scale, one day type way. Finding new things, trying new things, and accommodating this with strangers’ schedules are all things that should happen daily. I found it really surprising that even as a trainer, I was intimidated at times. Maybe it was because I spent a lot of time wandering to see where everything was or maybe it was because I was the only female not doing cardio. I ended up doing deadlifts just right in the middle of the gym since the racks were taken and I wasn’t sure where to go to be out of the way.

As a bonus, today was the first day I saw what happens when steroids go bad but that is a whole other story.

This is about more than just fitness.

I am itching to be uncomfortable.

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Gravity

Gravity goes sideways in the gym.

It is like I can’t control my head cocking to the side when I see some people working out.

Everyone starts somewhere, as my mom and I were just discussing. You just can’t know how to do something when you first start, it is that simple and that difficult. People stroll from one machine to the next, casually looking at the pictures and doing just enough reps to not get too tired.

Just like gravity, there are certain things you can always count on in the gym…

It is leg day and there are two squats racks. One will have several times your body weight in plates loaded onto the bar. Sometimes the person here can actually squat it but probably not. Either way, you can’t work in because the workout will be changing the plates. The other squat rack: someone curling the barbell. This gives me a Hulk-esque rage but unfortunately not the strength (which I would use to remove this person from the squat rack).

If you know what you’re doing (or if you look like you do) someone will follow your routine right behind you. This always makes me want to throw a bunch of handles behind me in a trail to throw them off. With my business card mixed in. They will always catch up to you and it will be awkward. Just get a trainer.

The talker. Every gym has one. This person has no concept of time or social cues and they thrive on those who are in a rush. Three seconds to go on your rest break? All of a sudden the talker is between you and your weights telling you about his trip to the planetarium six years ago.

We all know the guy you can hear before you can see him. He will take all of the plates in the gym to load up a barbell and be as physically loud as possible while he pounds out two reps within one quarter of his range of motion. Grand finale to follow with a smashing of the weight and a final scream,  followed by fifteen minutes of “recovery”. He earned it, just ask him.

My favourite is after work when people who aren’t really done work rush to the gym. Benches become offices as cell phones go off but there is no working in because obviously this bench is in use. How dare you interrupt a meeting.

chestday

This list needs to mention the hunter- gatherer. This unsuspecting exerciser appears whenever it is busy or just whenever you need something. They will claim everything that is available no matter whether they can use it or not and sharing is not an option. If you ask to work in with something in their pile: “just twenty more minutes, bro”.

There are three of you in the change room. Your lockers will all be in a row. No exceptions.

No matter the distractions, they all turn into stories to share later once the rage passes.

Did I miss anything?

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Fixed with a Flex

Today my weight was down half a pound. Not really a big deal, but that in combination with having a week that made me zombie-esque tired, I took the day off from working out. Things are still going well considering my weight is still up from the start of this week but I need to pack down some more calories before I start lifting heavy things against gravity again.

If you had told me a year ago that I would excitedly be sharing my weight gains with strangers, I would have thought that was crazy. I do like to affectionately call my blog followers my imaginary friends, so maybe I do have a little streak of weird.

I am now tracking my weight and workouts to a degree that some may have described as “obsessive”, to which I give a big thumbs up and then I flex. Next you can listen to me list a million things worse that I could be obsessed with.

While working out yesterday, D and I were getting all sorts of looks. Some were rude, and some were confused, but all felt like a really big compliment to the effort we were putting in. He said he felt like barfing, and I was holding on to machines to stay upright between my last sets while the gym- goers surrounding us were using the machines as theatre chairs, probably betting on me to go down first. I have found that in some cases, there is no bigger compliment than a dirty look. Take it in stride, and keep going. Then flex at them. After all, you don’t have success if you don’t have critics.

Ah, yes… reading that last paragraph back I now understand the obsessed descriptor.

Also, don’t bet against me.

Let me add in a very important point here: pushing to failure is a phase. When done right, these workouts are very draining, especially on the Central Nervous System and I don’t encourage this as a permanent method of training. As long as that is clear, I would like to add that there are few feelings that match the rush of knowing you worked as hard as you could, without peeing your pants.

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Tomorrow is a new day, another workout, and a chance to reach a new high. If you haven’t ever had the borderline-wet-your-pants-in-the-gym feeling then I strongly urge you to go for it, but in a safe way. Not safe like wearing Depends, but safe like working out properly. Get yourself a trainer or shoot me a message. Let’s squat and trot together, friends.

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Repeat to Failure

Lately I’ve been a little annoyed being part of a silent herd of people, anxiously traveling to their destinations at a speed that is just never fast enough. I’ve got caught up in the Toronto sidewalk mentality to want to push past whoever is in front of me and go faster. Hurry up and wait. Never have enough. Speed through life by dragging your feet.

I believe I have discovered the root of my annoyance of repetition. To be honest, I’m sure I’m nowhere near figuring myself out but here is a start.

After 2 years of working in the same gym I’ve seen the same people come in every single day and workout. This is good. They are committed and dedicated. This is good. They look identical to when they first started. This is bad.

Why are people happy with not making progress?! This is like the people who purchase sessions with a trainer and then think that they have made an investment towards their health and the hard part is over. Maybe I am so frustrated by them because I spent a long time in that place, myself. Now I want to tow everyone with me to the place where people aren’t wasting their time in such a consistent and effortful way.

I am going to switch up my program soon and focus on strength more than size. I am surprised at how much I am enjoying these bodybuilding workouts however there will come a time when that will absolutely hinder my ability to run. Also, my friends are tired of me asking them to feel my muscles. Can’t stay in one place too long!

Stop wasting your time! 🙂

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Glutton for Protein

Yesterday was leg day, today was cardio strength day, and tomorrow will likely be forced rest due to poor planning. This sounds like a terrible remix to Rebecca Black’s song Friday.

On the topic of punishment… (it is a bad song, get it?!) my sky high levels of enthusiasm have brought me to the lows of accumulated pain and suffering. Some may call it delayed onset muscle soreness. I rode the subway home from work and it got me thinking why there is no “leg day” preferred seating. Instead I just hung on like everyone else who I assume had NOT just done legs. It’s cool, though- I understand Rob Ford has bigger issues.

What was most painful was leaving the subway station and climbing up 6 flights of stairs. It felt like I was trying to climb the rope in gym class all over again. Except this time I had no legs. And everyone else in the class was Indiana Jones.

If my weight is down tomorrow morning then I have to take the day off… my body fat is getting so low that when I tuck my iPod into my shorts, it just falls through to the ground. Or! I could buy new shorts and workout!

When I embarked on this haphazard quest of rehabilitation turned bodybuilding (apparently), I really never thought that eating would be the hardest part. Don’t get me wrong, none of this is too easy, but the next time someone complains how hard it is to lose weight I will absolutely throw the most scientifically educated hissy fit.

Gaining muscle is no walk in the park. You can lose weight by literally walking in the park.

What I have learned is to build size you need to eat. Put on those special pants you save for Thanksgiving and power down some protein and some carbs and then knock back some water. Repeat until exhaustion of your body, lack of food, or loss of hand-eye coordination. Hello meat sweats, my old friend.

Embrace your inner glutton- in a preferably protein specific way. I am playing a little loose with the word glutton.

Lately, my workouts have all been feeling like they are forearm specific since I can’t grip the weight that my other body parts can move. I tried using foam grips which were too big for my hands and that really worked against me. Lesson learned. So I have been warning all the guys that I am planning to try gloves and then I make them promise they won’t make fun of me. They all say they won’t, but I know they are taking this advanced notice to prepare their heckling.

I will be too busy eating to pay attention to them anyways.

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy protein and that is almost the same thing. Back to eating!

crockpot

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The Friday Sessions

There is no workout harder than the Friday afternoon workout. Not necessarily for the reasons you may think. It has nothing to do with the amount of workouts that come before it in the week, or the program I have planned.

During my weekly workout sessions in the gym, I am usually filling a long break between clients. I can take my time between exercises, make awkward conversation with strangers, watch sports highlights, and make sure I don’t miss any of the good songs on my iPod. I enjoy doing all of these things and I take advantage of the time. Whoever set up the seated leg press in front of the TV showing TSN highlights may as well have added my nameplate to the machine. It is an invitation I always accept- to sit and catch up what I missed because I went to bed before the good stuff happens in everything, until someone wants to use it and I have to “work in” with them. My workouts are so long that I have gone with friends to Hero Burger partway through, and I really wish that was a lie. My sessions get spread into various gaps throughout the day which is absolutely less effective, and makes for an unsettling half-sweaty feeling that leaves me unsure where I stand in terms of hygiene standards appropriate for working in a gym.

Friday afternoon workouts are like Eye of the Tiger is being played on a loop, sped up, and volume loud like an airplane. They are like drill sergeants are screaming at you to do more, keep pushing harder, and keep doing it faster. I will sacrifice my reputation to pretend I didn’t hear someone start a conversation and I will let go of my pride as I make loud, whining sounds as I run to the next exercise. Hydration is a dump over the head, a swig with a spit. I can chug water bottles on the way home.

For real. It’s Friday.

Resistance training somehow ends up as cardio as I navigate the floor in a haphazard yet diehard sort of way. I will cut people off to get to the smallest weights, and I will not be embarrassed to be visibly strained before I run to the next exercise avoiding eye contact (I assume would be dirty looks).

I will apologize on Monday. But it is Friday.

I am not getting my “pump” on to go out. Likely, I am going home to an involuntary nap and then episodes of New Girl after I wake up too late to go out. I am not a girl who preps for the weekend like it is the day before a bikini- demanding vacation. My brain has processed how close I am to going home for the weekend and I physically cannot reduce my heart rate until I see the outside world.

Friday workouts require a big effort, a slightly crazy mentality, and a relationship status of single (due to moderate unpredictability of weekend napping to follow).

My plan is to get a run in this weekend and since my back survived my Friday session, it should be good to go. Wave if you see me, I’ll be running with Rub A535 in one hand and a rum and coke in the other.

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The Start of Something Good

To rebuild something implies that you want to replicate what existed before. I am not rebuilding but I am recreating. An upgraded model you could say.

Too many injuries ago, I would rehab the problem and pick up right where I left off. My life plan once involved getting into rehabilitation but after many years of physio for chronic issues and a brief stint working in rehab, I changed my mind. Or rehab changed my mind for me.

Too much emphasis is placed on the injury, and yes you read that right. The underlying issue of a knee pain is rarely a knee problem, but instead an issue with the hip, IT band, or maybe misalignment. Or maybe the ankle. Or could be the back and something overcompensates and the pain pops up in the knee. Too many aspects of rehab have blinders on. So if you have chronic pain, there is hope for you: try something else. If you haven’t looked further than the source of pain, then you haven’t even started.

Although my most recent injuries to rehab were not my fault (for once), I am starting from square one and overhauling this mess I’ve got going on. During my last workout another trainer asked me what I was working on and without hesitation or smile I said “my back- but just the right side”. He laughed and walked away probably to go flex at his reflection. I actually meant what I said though.

As a long time model for scoliosis, my back never looked like an anatomy textbook. It looked like I got hit by an SUV. Then I did get hit by an SUV. Flexing the muscles in my back are great as a party trick or maybe for a booth in a traveling circus but for promoting myself as a personal trainer not so much. (I would post a photo but I rated this blog as PG). This imbalance feeds into all my other problems so I will focus here and build on that. Upgrade in progress.

If something isn’t working then stop and try something else. There is nothing wrong with learning through trial and error particularly with our bodies. You just need to trust your body will tell you what it likes and doesn’t like and you need to listen and respond. Building a strong base for your fitness is most important (literally and figuratively) and this will reduce injuries and keep you hard at work in the gym.

So tomorrow is another (right side) back day. A big shout out to all my asymmetrical friends putting in a workout tomorrow too!

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