Made My Commitment to the Gym, Got My Ass Kicked Today

Well, I did it. After going to the gym for a month, three to four times a week, I decided I liked it enough (or, rather, could tolerate it enough) to make it a regular part of my life. I signed up for two years in order to get the more reasonable rate of $38/month – the gym charges $48/month for a one-year sign up. Paying month by month? $99/month, which is insane and what I paid for the first month because I didn’t want to lock in for a two year period unless I was 100% sure I could commit to it. They have a $149 sign-up fee, and thankfully they put the $99 I paid for the first month against that fee, so it worked out OK.

I’ve been slowly but surely improving my fitness level over the past month:

  • Treadmill: when I started I could last about five minutes at incline 2.0 and speed of 4.0. Now I can do incline 4.0, speed 4.0, and walk a full mile (15 minutes or so) without needing to stop.
  • Stairmaster: also known as the “machine from hell”, I started at difficulty 5 and could only last three minutes – and after three minutes, I thought my heart and lungs were going to explode. Now I can last five minutes and only feel like I’m having a mild heart attack. A ways to go on that machine, but it seems to kick everyone’s ass…and it’s just climbing stairs. Go figure.
  • Leg Press: I started out at 225 pounds (this is a two-leg press) and last Friday I was able to do two sets of 10 reps at 315 pounds. This isn’t so much from me building muscle in mylegs as it is me getting more confident about wanting to push myself.
  • Lat Pull-Downs: I started out able to do one set of 20 pull-downs at about 60 pounds, and last Friday I was able to do one set of 10 pull-downs at 120 pounds, and one set of 20 at 90 pounds.

None of that is particularly brag-worthy, but shared as an encouragement to other out-of-shape geeks like myself out there, that even in a month if you’re committed to working out regularly you’ll see positive changes. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I have noticed a marked improvement in my energy level on the days I work out…except for today. What happened today you might ask? I had my initial consultation with my trainer, Kirk.

I had hoped that one month of basic prep would allow me to survive the assessment, but it was brutal – sometimes the simplest things can be the most difficult, like doing push-ups while using nearly every muscle in your body to stabilize yourself because you’re balancing on a Bosu ball (imagine a ball cut in half with a flat plastic top but round and bouncy on the bottom). It’s amazingly difficult for what seems like a simple motion. Or doing squats while standing on said Bosu ball, trying not to fall over. My arms were so exhausted when I got home this morning I could barely wash my hair in the shower – they felt like rubber and were hard to lift. Even now, six hours later, I’m wiped out. One day at a time…

  • Janak Parekh

    That’s awesome, and now you know why a trainer pushes things to the next level. Trainers are so much better at figuring out what you’re capable of as opposed to yourself. Good news: just like you survived your first workout, your future workouts with the trainer won’t leave you nearly as dead.

    I can also report one great result of my workouts: I was able to snowboard for four days straight during a ski trip, and I’m still okay with only one or two muscles that are sore. Last year, when I went snowboarding, I was dead by the second day. I can’t say how much of a difference working out has made there and in how I feel in general. 🙂

  • Janak Parekh

    Oh, and btw, _I_ consider the leg press (the one where you’re pushing upwards) to be the Soul Sucker. 😉

  • Janak,
    I find the leg press quite fun in a do-it-or-be-crushed kind of way. 🙂

  • chrisgohlke

    Good job! Your getting started on this also inspired me to get back on this. For about the last month, I’ve been jogging 2 miles on MWF with some small weights on the arms. Then been doing a 4 mile hike in the woods on Saturdays and Arnis on Sundays. Haven’t dropped much weight, but feel great.

  • Chris,
    That’s great to hear that you’re getting more exercise – it’s a good thing no matter what.

  • w00t w00t, I did two sets of 10 leg presses yesterday at 405 pounds. 😀

  • Janak Parekh

    Damn! You’ve got some legs, Jason. 😉

  • Janak,
    My legs have about the only muscles in my body that have any power, so I’m taking what small joy I can in knowing that they’re not completely useless like my core and upper body are. 😉

  • im too lazy to excercise…it takes work to keep up my round figure…lots of food, jk i work out too, i just dont like too. Thats cool i know what you mean.My excercise is mor like so i dont get fat, the muscle part is on its way..hopefully.

  • Doing great man! I had started running a couple weeks before your gym stuff. On my cruise I kept running and did a 5 miler 🙂 Running 3 – 4 times per week right now with my shorter runs around 4 miles and the longer runs @ 5…though looking for 6 soon! Also doing tennis once a week…hopefully soon to be twice 🙂 (I have been a bit more successful on the weight front…down from 190 to about 177 in two months of running as of today. The first goal was to get to 170 but I think since I’m so active now I’ll aim for 165!)

    I haven’t been able to get into the Gym thing though. I run by LA Fitness every day that I run but I just don’t think I’d enjoy it. (Of course I hate running too…so I tell everyone… 😉 )

  • BTW, since its likely that you HAVE been increasing in muscle mass in the past month, if I had to guess you definitely have lost fatty tissue. Muscle is so much more dense that you could very well be evening it out right now.

  • Codefox,
    Great to hear you’ve been running up a storm! That’s excellent. In terms of my weight loss, I suppose it’s possible – actual measurements and body fat percentage calculations weren’t done until last week when I had the assessment with my trainer. But most of my excess fat it on my stomach, so if I’d lost weight from there I’d notice. 😉 I think about a month from now I’ll notice bigger changes.

  • Have you adjusted your diet at all? I track my diet now with Vida One’s Diet & Fitness on my PC (and I use the Vida One MyPersonalDiet on my Wing. A bit of an eye openner how many calories are in some foods and how unbalanced overall my diet was. I haven’t made wholesale changes in my diet. I don’t believe in that. But I have adjusted how I eat based on the tracking of food since now I’m fully of aware of what’s going in. I think that’s a huge part of the weight loss. Even with running I wouldn’t be losing weight (or at least not nearly as effectively) if I kept eating all the junk I was eating!

  • Codefox,
    Nah, I haven’t really adjusted my diet. I’ve cut out a lot of “bad” food, but I certainly don’t eat like my hyper-fit wife does. 😉 I really love food. 😀