Would You Rather…

If offered the choice, dear readers, would you rather:

1. Work out in your living room, at your own leisure, in whatever clothes you feel like wearing (even if they are technically your pyjamas), using a comprehensive (and challenging!) set of workout DVDs, with all of the equipment that you could possibly need (yoga mats, cork yoga blocks, resistance tubing, hand weights of every conceivable size, a pull-up bar, special rotating push-up hand things that let you attempt a push-up without straining your extremely sensitive forearms, and even special fingerless gloves to help you avoid getting callouses), a big screen TV, a woodstove if you’re too cold, a fan if you’re too warm, your special filtered water in unlimited supplies, and your pumping workout mix blaring from the stereo


2. Work out in a badly outdated gym, which costs you decent money to attend, which has all of one elliptical machine (which sounds tired and creaky and like it belongs in a museum for Industrial Age relics), which plays the Grease soundtrack on full blast over the loud speakers, which has terribly faded posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger pinned up on every wall (which seem unintentionally ironic and sad now that you know how far Arnie has fallen– even though you never understood his appeal, anyway), which is situated a full 9km (5.6 miles) away from your cozy cabin along winding country roads populated mostly with speeding pickup trucks, and which you must ride your bike to and from every time the urge to sweat hits, probably in the rain because this is the Pacific Northwest in the wintertime, in your makeshift “cycling” clothes (which are actually a pair of long johns, pink sneakers, and your regular rain coat), and all of this because you don’t drive.


I chose the gym membership, too.

Listen up: There have been years and years of feeling like I “should” do yoga and that I “should” enjoy it. After all, I eat like a hippie, wash like a savage, and pray like a godless heathen– I am the perfect candidate for blissing out on the yoga mat with ye olde Home Workout Tape.

But I can’t do it!

What can I say? I love working out at the gym. I love sweating all over, out of glands I didn’t even know I had, until I can actually feel salt granules scratching my forehead. I secretly love not having a natural breeze come along to blow all of my sweaty, post-workout evidence away. I love marveling at the nasty Rorschach-like pattern of sweat imprinted on my workout clothes at the end of a strenuous cardio session. I love running and jumping and kicking and punching. I love loud dance music– music that I never listen to except inside a gym. I love aerobics classes. I love ridiculous choreography and cheesy moves like “L-Steps” and “Grapevines”. I love elliptical machines and 30-minute time limits. Why? Who knows why.

I just do.

This year, instead of resisting my Inner Ass Kicker and telling it to “shush up and try yoga again”, I decided to just bite the bullet and get me a rural gym membership. The gym is located on the upper floor of a “mall” (read: spooky ghost town building) at a junction on the highway to Victoria. I went for the first time yesterday, riding my bike in the light rain and decked out in my un-hip long johns. I don’t have a front fender on my bicycle, so as I rode up and down those crazy country hills, bits of mud and rock splattered all over my clothes and face. I could feel grit in my teeth. It was awesome, but only because I knew I was heading to The Gym and not just to Tony Horton on my living room DVD player. (A pox on P90X!)

This was practically how dirty I was at the end of my ride, except I was wearing pink sneakers and long johns in place of Marty's gorgeous legs and pro cycling shoes.

A more accurate representation of my shoes after the ride, but you'll still have to mentally substitute awkward, waffle-patterned long johns in place of the mud-soaked denim

I made it to the gym in about 20 minutes and carefully changed out of my now-soaking-wet cycling clothes into my soon-to-be-soaking-wet gym clothes. I tested out the World’s Oldest Elliptical Machine for thirty minutes, not wanting to push myself too hard, knowing that a mostly uphill cycling trek still awaited me. I survived, even though every stride on that retro machine felt like it was taking me one step further back through time. At the end of it all, I got back into my wet, gritty cycling clothes and huffed and puffed for 9km home. Pretty epic for my first workout in over a month.

It was so worth it, though– tattered Schwarzenegger posters and all. My body loves moving (ahem, once I commit to getting off my lazy ass), and it responds really well to cardio-type exercise. It does not enjoy working out in my living room, and it is not particularly receptive to yoga just yet, but that’s okay. I’m not going to fight it this year. I’m just going to get my body back into gear, vintage-style. Perhaps I should invest in a sweatband, so I can blend in with the 1970s/1980s vibe at my new-to-me gym. No thong-style bodysuits over spandex leggings, though. What say you?

22 responses

  1. #1 makes my brain tired with the clutter of the scenario. I often do yoga and practice dance choreos in the living room though, but without videos and various fitness accoutrements. It’s pretty much just me and a yoga mat (in the case of yoga) or me and a giant gypsy skirt (in the case of dance).

    #2 appeals to me quite a lot too. There’s something about being outside, being dirty, and being with sweaty people that appeals greatly to my own inner hippie. šŸ˜€

    • I can’t deal with the clutter of my living room fitness set-up, either, which explains why I have only been able to attempt one solitary workout in the comfort of my cabin. I lasted for 19 minutes before I flipped Tony Horton the bird. Sadly, I don’t know enough about yoga to do my own free-form routine on a plain old mat, and I think my attempts at self-choreographing a kickboxing routine would end very badly… Twisted limbs would be a very likely possibility.

      I know a lot of people who loathe and detest working out in gyms, and I get it. I just don’t share those sentiments and really miss the artificial “fitness!” environment when I haven’t worked out in a while.

      The best thing about my new-to-me gym is that, in the posted List of Rules, #4 is “No Excessive Grunting”. The grunting issue even took priority over the Wipe Down Your Cardio Machine rule. E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T!!!

  2. The difference between you and me is that I would consider the 18K bike ride a major workout and head for the treat du jour. Well done, I say. But be careful, you don’t want to end up with an accidental Arnie crush.

    • Something must be amiss, because I never seem to consider walking, hiking, or cycling a “real” workout. Those seem to be more like “commuting” to me, so even if it takes me an hour to walk somewhere, it doesn’t count. Same with cycling 18k. Totally daffy, I know, but I might think differently after 3 more months of cycling to and from this retro gym.

      Accidental crush on Arnie? Such a thing surely isn’t possible… is it?

    • It sure feels great– I’m always amazed that I can fall off the working out bandwagon, because I feel so awesome when I’m active!

      I do have legwarmers, and cycling legwarmers at that, but I left them in our storage unit when we moved to the cabin. I didn’t imagine I would be hardcore commuting in nasty weather… I’ll have to go dig them up again. I’m so pro! šŸ™‚

  3. “No excessive grunting”??? Really? What a great rule! I wonder what kind of grunting mishaps occurred to make this rule necessary….
    I’ve rarely been to gyms, but my problem is mostly self-motivation, so I’m willing to pay lots of money to go to yoga classes instead of doing it myself in my living room.
    And don’t let anyone tell you waffle long johns aren’t cool! I pretty much live on waffle from October to March. (I’ve even developed somewhat of a reputation for it).

    • Fact: I never wore long johns until I moved to Victoria. I would walk forever in freezing cold Alberta weather, wearing just jeans and socks, but now that I’m on the temperate west coast, I need to pull out the silk long johns (or the heavier duty waffle ones) as soon as it hits 7 degrees C. Crazy.

      That grunting rule is so awesome. It actually elaborates, saying something along the lines of “We all know you’re working hard– we are too! But excessive grunting does nobody any favours.” I can only imagine the dude (it HAD to be a dude) that finally caused the upper management to snap and say “THAT’S IT!! WE’RE RE-WRITING THE GYM RULES BECAUSE OF YOU!!!” Oh, small lakeside town. šŸ™‚

  4. How I admire thee, how I admire thee, did I say how I admire thee, Dana? Why do we humans beat ourselves up? Why don’t we go along with our inner program, no matter how politically incorrect? (This from a yoga person, except the way I do yoga is unrecognizable to 99.6% of all yogis. I do it so slowly you can fall asleep within a single move. Forget about sweat.) I wish I was a person who loved sweat, but it hasn’t happened yet. You rock, girl! You go!!

  5. Love the way you set up this post, Dana. I have to admit, I too, love working out at a gym, especially loved it in Haiti, as it was on top of a mountain, and from my elliptical machine I could look out over the bay. I know. I know. After that, Kentucky sucks–as does the at-home elliptical machine I mount 6 days a week with a view of CNN on the tv. Alas————

    • It would be hard to come close to the view you had in Haiti from the elliptical machine. CNN just can’t compare!

      PS: I just wanted to let you know that I notice and appreciate your comments– on this blog and others– regarding the structure, mood, etc. of posts. You always have something to say beyond just the content– thanks! šŸ™‚

  6. Okay, this post went the opposite way I thought it would at the beginning!!! Personally (and I know this is only my opinion) I can’t imagine going to a gym. I get the aerobics classes and yoga classes, but using those machines that look like super complicated devices of torture….just not for sure.
    I think the gym you found sounds fantastic!! Ha! Ha! It’s like a real life version of my own version of an over inflated bad gym like experience!!
    Good that you can see the lighter side of it and do it though, if the alternative is sitting at home on your butt then anything is better than that.

    • I really vowed that I was going to get on the home workout scene here at the lake, but then I proceeded to sit on my ass wearing pyjamas for a month straight and got zero exercise. I think my workouts need to get me out of the house somehow, and I’m chintzy when it comes to spending money on gym memberships, so I end up trying my hardest to make them worth the cost. The gym is pretty bad, though– I don’t think I could justify getting an annual pass there, but a three-month stint won’t be so horrible…. right? šŸ˜‰

  7. You have made cycling on a muddy road and going to an old gym sound like the most amazing fun. I usually work out at home, but now you’ve got me wondering if there is an old gym within cycling distance of me. (I don’t drive, either.)

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