June 2011


An Update on Getting Fit

My second great experiment with the gym began last November (for those of you unaware, I had a great experiment with the gym when I lived in Bloomington – and, in fact, when I moved here, I wasn’t slim, but I wasn’t fat – my German driving license shows a much slimmer (in the face) me), and so far I have been content with the experience.

I haven’t been losing a lot of weight – that much is sure, but I have been getting stronger and I have been getting thinner. I know the stronger part because I can now do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the shoulder press at 15 kg, and not feel too exhausted at the end of it –last November I couldn’t even finish the 30 repetitions of 12.5 kg at all. I know the thinner part because several items of clothing which were starting to creep into the uncomfortably too tight category are now comfortable, and the pair of pants that I bought a year ago for my job talk are now uncomfortably too big.

These are good things – even if my weight isn’t going down, I am showing the kind of progress that makes me happy.

At my most recent meeting, Tuesday evening, with my personal trainer, I mentioned that I would like to return to how I look in my driving license, which prompted her to change my weight lifting routine: gone are the three sets of ten repetitions, in are two sets of 20 repetitions, with slightly reduced weights on all ten machines.

For reasons I won’t go into, I skipped the gym Thursday and Friday, so today (Saturday) was the first time I actually had to do the new routine—and lets just say, my arm muscles were particularly vocal in their complaints—the shoulder press, and the chest incline press were the worst of the two, and, at the end, I wasn’t sure I could complete the last bit of the low row.

All I could think at the end was, “ouch, my arms are sore.”

And then I had 45 minutes more of Cardio to complete.

Actually I like cardio and can, assuming I do not need to be anywhere in particular, can go quite a long time on it without getting bored. Seriously.

One thing I haven’t mentioned, but back in February, whilst I was in the States, I picked up new shoes for the gym: the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. These shoes have been fantastic—I like them for a number of reasons:

My gym shoes

First, I like how tight and snug they are around my feet. One of my feet is longer than the other, and the other is wider than the longer one. I’ve always found shoe shopping to be difficult—and gym shoes, in particular, awful. Once I found the length, the fact that my other foot was wider didn’t matter—there’s enough give in the shoe to fit perfectly.

Secondly, the shoes are comfortable. Seriously. I like wearing them—the grip on the floor is fine and the support is what I need. One might think that the stitching would be problematic and noticeable between the toes, but it isn’t.

Thirdly, when they start to smell, I just toss them in the washing machine. One cycle later, I put them on my drying rack and they smell awesome – just the way my sensitive, perfume-free detergent smells. I cannot speak to the durability of going through the washing machine frequently—I’ve only washed each of my pairs (I own two pair) maybe 5 or 6 times, but so far there doesn’t seem to be any degradation due to frequent trips through the machine.

Fourthly, they are lightweight: I have a small gym bag, by design, which holds my gym shoes, gym clothes, a bottle of soap, and a water bottle. Anything that frees up space and saves weight in the small, confined, space makes me happy – I even have enough room left over in my gym back to carry a thermos of tea to and from work.

I bought my Five Fingers Classics in America – each pair cost, including sales tax, about $86, which was just over 62€ (at the time, an even better bargain today). In Europe, Five Fingers Classics in Europe cost 89€ a pair.

Something to think about, if you’re in the market and heading to America in the near future.

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