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Friday, March 14, 2014

Me & Planet Fit

So, I'm at the gym yesterday (because my nephew guilt-tripped-slash-shamed me into going) and I spent more time thinking about the gym I belong to than using what it had to offer. (I'm pretty sure that thinking burns calories, so don't get all huffy.)

I belong to Planet Fitness (when my membership payment doesn't go all Captain Kangaroo and bounce), which prides itself on the whole "No Judgement Zone" theme. This is true, mostly, but I have noticed a difference in atmosphere between the two centers I use. My 'home' gym, closest to where I live is nicer than the across-town gym.

The home gym has fans. Cooling fans, I mean. I love those fans. I'm shameless about taking one of those fans and lugging it nearer to my workout station. Matter of fact, I'm downright rude. One time, I waited until the guy on the treadmill a few spaces over went to re-fill his water bottle. When he came back, I'd moved the fan from behind his spot to behind mine. He was too polite to say anything. I'm such a thug.

The home gym also had stair machines which, until about two weeks ago, the other gym did not.

The parking sucks at both locations because they are both just down from Burlington stores. The pavement is better at the home gym location though. On the other hand, the location across town is in the same mall as a great beauty supply store. Oh, and there's a not-really-dollar dollar store just down the way. I go there at least every third visit to pick up a $2.99 lock because I'm either forgetting to bring the lock I have, or because I lost that tiny key to open the lock I have with me. I have a collection of cheap locks and loose keys in a box in the closet. One day I'm going to sort and match them up and put them in the yard sale I never actually have.

The point I was going to make before I went all ADHD on you is that I prefer the across-town gym to the one just a couple miles down the road from where I live. The biggest reason for this is not that, until a couple of weeks ago, I could avoid that crazy stair machine, but that I like the atmosphere at the other gym. The across-town gym, I mean. There is a more diverse mix of people (size, shape, color, motivation) there than at the home gym.

When I go to my home gym, it's not that I feel out of place in my raggedy workout clothes, as long as they match. There are just some unspoken expectations. I always spend an extra five minutes in the locker room checking out my hair and making sure I pretend to do stretches because it makes me look like I give a damn. You can't look like a total amateur at home gym. For instance, you really don't want to get caught looking at the picture on a machine like you forgot exactly how to use it. The people there notice stuff like that. They all walk around that 'No Judgement Zone", waiting to not judge each other. One time I made the mistake of adjusting the seat on a machine - while I was sitting on it - and the damn seat clanged down with a clatter loud enough to stop time and shine a confession spotlight on me. No one judged, but they made such a big deal of not judging that I didn't go back there for a couple of months.

I really do prefer the across-town gym, if I haven't pounded that idea home by now. I go there and actually hang my reading glasses from my tank top so that I can see the machine instructions better. If I don't read the instructions, I end up trying to use an ab machine for my inner thigh workout. It's damn near a tragedy.

Another thing I like about the preferred gym is that I can be as lazy as I want with my workout. There's no pressure to enter the place like you've just held hands in the locker room for a prayer and a pep talk before storming into your workout. Sometimes, I get all my exercise just wandering around trying to decide which machine I'm not going to be getting on.

It sounds like I'm not serious about my exercise, but, really, I am. Usually. My normal routine is doing 3 miles per hour for 45 minutes on the treadmill at varying inclines. (I can do an incline of 11 without sliding off the damn thing, if I hang on for dear life and pay no attention a single thing going on around me. I can't run. I tried a sort of half-trot once and looked like Goofy's black Alaskan cousin. I lose my balance watching other people run. Matter of fact, if someone next to me starts running, I will move to another machine just to get away from them.)

When I finish on the treadmill, and if I have survived it, I move on to the Ab Station. There are about 9 machines over there, but I stick to three of them. I don't know what the hell to call them, but they are all for doing variations of crunches. I like the one where you kneel and pull your weight up via a little roller thingie. Since I got so technical, here's a photo:

Love this thing-a-ma-jig
The Ab Station is supposed to be a 12-minute routine. I haven't figured out if my 12-minute system of exercising for 2 and resting for 2 counts, but ~shrug~ hey. Besides, I always forget to pay attention to that red light/green light notifier flashing on and off. Doesn't matter since no one seems to actually do the entire rotation. We all just pick and choose our favorite machines and pretend not to notice who skipped which.

This is my other favorite:

I don't think he's doing it right

Now that my nephew goes with me to the gym, he's got me using all the stuff I avoided before. A couple weeks ago, I started working on my arms and chest. If someone had told me before that I could keep my boobies high and tight by using those machines I thought were only for guys, I'd have been on that like a boss. The one thing I don't like much is using free weights. I didn't even know what 'free weights' meant until my nephew told me. I told him that we are both safer in the gym when I don't use things that are heavy and can be dropped. He thought I was kidding about my clumsiness until he saw me on the treadmill. He ain't laughing now.

I know that a lot of people complain about Planet Fitness, but my experience has been mostly positive. Mostly. The only thing I don't like is that, at the across-town gym, the so-called Fitness Trainer turns out to be this chick who I thought just hung out there because she was homeless. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen an employee outside of Home Depot less interested in their job. During one of my first visits to the gym, I thought about asking her for help with setting up a PIN # on the treadmill, but I didn't want to rouse her from her stupor. She's skinny, though she doesn't look particularly fit. I can say that because I once weighed 98 pounds and I know I wasn't fit. I think she needs a good meal. Some spinach or liver, maybe, to get her energy up.

Mostly, I see getting and staying fit as being about getting and staying motivated. If I don't plan to hit the gym, I eat a bit less. If I want to cheat and have a Whopper because I got coupons for a freebie in the mail, I make plans to be at the gym the next day. (The next day because, let's face it, after a Whopper and fries, all I'm good for is a nap. Besides, I don't like being around people when I have that special onion breath that comes only from Burger King's onions. And what the hell is it about those onions that make them so especially funky?)

As far as Planet Fitness, I don't know if I will be renewing my membership when I can opt out. Now that I'm thinner and have more stamina, I think I'd rather save up that twenty bucks a month to spend on my healthier food and cute clothes. Somewhere along the way, I should be able to get a used elliptical or treadmill. My nephew has a membership now so I can hit the gym as his guest. Let him pay for going to the Purple Yellow Palace. To be honest, I'm not sure that PF has my best interests in mind when this is the first thing I see while showing the hot-as-hell guy at the counter my card:

aka: Planet Really?
Sometimes, I take two if hot-guy's not looking.
Come to think of it, maybe that tired trainer chick is just sluggish from all the free pizza...

Like going to a doctor to score crack


Text-to-Speech Options

I don't know how other writers feel about hearing their work read back to them, but my niece hipped me to the idea. She proofs some of my stuff for readability and says that hearing the stories (instead of reading them) keeps her from trying to edit as she reads. Well, that's my problem too.

Not that I did any real research here, but I found these links after struggling with the Microsoft Narrator installed on my PC. (Some of these are links to links...)

I've used Narrator, which isn't as bad as it is just plain unfriendly to a new user. Also, Narrator doesn't  play nice with all documents. I spent more time trying to de-glitch it than I did listening to my stuff. So...

In the voice of Bill Engvall, "Heeeere's your links!"

Not a lot of links, but I'll be scouting for more as I  have time.