Happy Friday and welcome to February! I have some really exciting news but I can’t share it with you all just yet – for now, just hold tight knowing that I am quite literally brimming over with excitement.
Then again, I might be brimming over from caffeine
Monday thru Thursday I work in an office that has no coffee pot – an abomination, I know. I drink either instant coffee from Trader Joe’s or the occasional cup of tea or hot cocoa to keep me warm. Have I mentioned my office is also a deep freezer? May as well be…
Anyway, since Friday is my day home I am thoroughly enjoying the freshly brewed pot of coffee from the beans I just ground up fresh this morning. The TJ’s instant coffee is pretty good but nothing compares to a fresh cup of coffee! Real coffee!
I like to tell myself that it isn’t really the caffeine that I want from a cup of coffee and that what I really like about my coffee is that it is part of a ritual – it’s my quiet time to myself before the hustle and bustle of the world muddles the drum beat of my own desires. When I’m home, I wake up and make coffee while the kids are still sleeping. At work, I make my little cup of instant before the bosses or other office folks arrive – it’s my quiet time to settle in and plan the day. I’ve mentioned this to a few people who agree – it’s not about “waking up” and needing enough caffeine to face the world, it’s about having that time to yourself so that you can handle what the day throws at you…
Alright, you guys know I’ve been talking nonstop about going to Planet Fitness to get our miles in and I’ve also mentioned the circuit routine a handful of times. I’ve had several questions about the gym as well as our marathon training and what the heck we’re doing so I’d like to do a bit of housekeeping and answer those questions this morning. The decision to both join a gym and also to train for a marathon sort of go hand-in-hand for us so here goes..
About Planet Fitness
You’ve probably seen their commercials, or perhaps seen their equipment on The Biggest Loser, but you might still have questions. We did.
If you read the comments on those youtube videos you can tell pretty quickly that these commercials are either a love-em or hate-em type thing. Personally, I love em and I think they are dang funny. When I was younger, I was incredibly insecure about my body – something I’ve opened up about on the blog a couple times – stick straight skinny I was often called anorexic or told that I was “disgusting” and that I should really try to “gain a few pounds” and that I just looked “sickly.” The trouble is, I wasn’t anorexic and I ate really well – I was just skinny. I’m still just skinny – that’s how my body is. But it was really hurtful to me to be called ugly or made fun of for the way that I looked, just the same as it would be painful to be called fat or to be called ugly for any reason. It’s mean. In fact, I have a bit of what we call a “troll” in internet land who has left some mean comments on the article in the Salt Lake Tribune referencing the way I look and how skinny I am. Here we are as adults and it’s an issue I’m still dealing with…
I joined Bally’s when I was a senior in high school. I bought and paid for a year’s worth of membership (which wasn’t cheap by the way) and I went only a handful of times. Why? Because I was totally intimidated by these tanned, greased up gym freaks that all knew each other and worked out for hours on end – if I went in the morning, they were there, if I went in the evening, they were there. There was no avoiding them and it was incredibly awkward to even been around them. I stopped going because it was just torment for me. No one was mean to me – it was just an incredibly uncomfortable atmosphere and I hated it.
Flash forward to college we had this gorgeous gym at the University of Washington, free to use for students. I felt comfortable there because it was full of so many different kinds of people – people just like me that had no clue what they were doing but wanted to learn, people who knew what they were doing and were really good at it, people who were simply there because they were on a rec league or came down to try a new sport out.
Flash forward again to being out of college and having to pay for a gym. It’s dang expensive and I knew I never wanted to go back to a place like Bally’s ever again. In fact, I’ve looked into joining Gold’s Gym but because of the sheer commitment (you buy a year) and the cost, I have avoided it thinking that I might end up paying all this money and not using it just the same as had happened with Bally’s. I had been with the Women’s Wellness Center back in Washington and it was $14 a month, a gorgeous space (practically a spa) and they had a circuit space, yoga and zumba classes. I loved it there and I’d pop over on my lunch breaks to get my thirty minute circuit in. But that wasn’t really enough…
But there’s more. I really just hate working out for the sake of working out. I love being active, love climbing a mountain or going on a bike ride. I love being in nature and getting my fitness in that way. Putting in hours on end at a gym sort of sounds like hell to me.
However, in the winter this just isn’t a reliable means to staying fit. It’s cold, it’s dark, there’s snow and ice – it’s dangerous and awful. We found ourselves sitting around the house, going bonkers because our bodies wanted to be active, wanted to be doing something but going out in the cold just sounded like a terrible solution.
Enter Planet Fitness. No commitment, $10 to join and $10 a month – end any time. It honestly sounds too good to be true, right? What’s the gym a crumbling mess? A half-baked solution to fitness? Hidden fees? What’s the deal?
We went to our local PF and decided to see for ourselves. The gym is very nice, very clean and there’s plenty to do here. The staff is friendly and helpful. The locker rooms are very nice. There are more treadmills that I’ve ever seen in one place. Okay so hidden fees, right? Well, no, actually – it’s just like they say. It was regularly $29 to join (we had a January special to join for $10 fee) and then it’s just $10 a month.
So we joined on the spot and even got a free t-shirt
Wanna see the inner workings of our Planet Fitness?
All of the signage around the gym goes with their overall mission – “that everyone is welcome here.” You can see on the wall below the TVs in the photo below big yellow letters “no critics.” Everything they say and all of the machines follow this premise. We are all here to better ourselves, no judging, no critics, no competition. I cannot express to you how much I love that.
The locker rooms are nice and clean – and there are showers available as well (one thing I’ve found that a lot of “cheap” gyms skip is the shower feature)
There are all the regular machines that gyms have and all the free weights, heavy lifting, etc… it’s all there. I am just going to show you my favorite spots. The 30-minute PF Express Circuit and what I call “the back 40 of machines.”
The PF 30 Minute Express Circuit is made up of ten machines and ten step aerobic stations. See that green railroad light? When the light is green, you start at the first station. The light last for about 1 minute, flashes and then the red light goes on which means it is time to stop, switch stations and get a bit of rest before starting the next activity. It’s about twenty seconds. The red light flashes indicating it’s about to change and the green light comes on once again. You just follow the green light, red light until you’ve completed the entire sequence and it’s almost exactly thirty minutes.
The first half of the machines focus on lower body, the move to shoulder work and then as you go around the half-circle and into the second half of the circuit you move into more upper body, arm and ab work.
As you progress between the stations you alternate from machine, to step aerobic, to machine, to step aerobic, and so forth. There is a chart on the wall that suggests the various “steps” to do at the step stations. I always follow the chart but I’ve noticed that some people do their own thing on the steps and that’s cool too. Whatever works. The steps are really meant to keep your heart rate up between machines and if you follow their chart, the moves they provide are actually perfectly matched for the machines you are coming off – for instance there’s a machine where you pull weight down using your calves – the step following that is a step up and calf stretch so it works well to go in order.
The “back 40 of machines” is really just the back of the gym and it’s not abandoned or anything, that’s just the only way I’ve ever thought to describe it. Here I like to do the hip adducter and abductor.
A few extra things: I know most gyms have fancy stuff like this these days but I am still a newbie so I get excited about all of it. Each of the treadmills has a plug in docking station for iPods – and it charges your gadget while you run! I always forget to plug mine in at home so this is excellent, I can practically forget about planning ahead You can also control your iPod, or phone or whatever from the treadmill itself which is really nice too. Additionally, you can plug in your headphones to the treadmill, elliptical, what have you and then choose a tv channel to hear (the tvs are mounted as you can see in the photos) or choose a radio station. All very cool. Oh and one time, I forgot to pack a hair tie and I asked the front desk for a rubberband. They looked at me a little funny and then offered me a real hair tie. That’s the kind of convenience I’m sure a lot of you just wouldn’t expect for $10 a month (I sure wasn’t!). Overall, we have been pleasantly surprised and we’ve found our gym home.
Why the heck do you guys decide to do this? Well, you didn’t really expect us to join a gym and just go there for fun did you? I mean, we like it there, but we need a real goal to work towards in order to go day after day. A marathon is just crazy enough that we’ll have to really fight to meet our goals.
What race are you running and when? We originally wanted to do the Ogden Marathon which is on my birthday, May 18th. However, I totally misunderstood the registration and we entirely missed the lottery system and pretty much have no shot at getting in the race this year. So… we are currently training for a marathon we can’t actually participate in. Not to worry, Utah is practically race central and we are looking into a few alternative options. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, we’re still working on the same training plan and going along as if May 18th was our day.
Your recap didn’t mention Nick – will he do a recap of his training as well? I hope so! He uses runkeeper to track his miles and goals, perhaps I can convince him to share his progress too
Are your graphs an indication of what was on your training plan or are you showing what you actually did? How did you make these? The graphs are an indication of what I actually did. I show just above the graph what was scheduled. For instance this run from last week:
I track my runs while I’m on the treadmill using a little notebook. Then I convert to an excel table which is what you see above. If I was running outside, I’d simply wear my Garmin 405 and you’d get a nice little graph from those folks. When the weather changes and we can start running outdoors again you’ll probably see the Garmin maps more often than these excel tables.
Is that all you’re eating? No. I don’t photograph or comment on every single thing I eat. I don’t like all these WIAW (what I ate Wednesday) posts that show up in blog-land and I have no intention of documenting every single thing I eat, much less hoping you’ll want to read about it. I try to share the major meals for the run recaps simply as a way to track what makes me feel better during my runs and maybe learn what I could change in my diet on days that I run so I feel better and stronger throughout.
Any more questions? I love getting your emails! You can always leave a comment on the actual post you have a question about and you’re more than welcome to email me at email@example.com