The Gym in January: People Watching Gold.

I love people watching. I always have. One of my favorite classes in college was an interpersonal communication class, in which the teacher sent us out one day with instructions to watch people – and then report back the next class (I’m pretty sure we were looking for something specific, but it’s been like 12 years, so give me a break). The gym can be a great place to people watch – for numerous reasons. And it tends to be even better in January.

Tonight’s post was inspired by the girl I witnessed doing something that looked like a cross between the Chicken Dance and jumping jacks. Now, I’ve taken a lot of classes (and taught a lot of classes) that required me to do some odd thing from time to time. But in the middle of the gym? Not usually. Which got me thinking about some of the top “what are they thinking?” moments I’ve encountered throughout the years.

Cirque du Soleil. Now that football and pool season is behind us, I’m not getting to the gym quite as early on Saturday mornings … but for a while there, I’d get a (people-watching) treat on my way out. There were three people who, for some unknown reason, would practice what I can only describe as Cirque du Soleil … in the middle of the cardio floor. Not in a studio, not even in a somewhat less-traveled space, but right in front of the escalators to the cardio floor. Weird.

Old Lady REALLY Likes Her Weights. This one dates all the way back to my Clemson old bookstore while the real gym is under renovation days. This woman enjoyed lifting weights. REALLY enjoyed lifting her weights (think Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”). It was uncomfortable to be around. I may still have nightmares.

Competition Prep. I get that fitness competitions require participants to strut around in a couple sequins and sky-high heels that would make a stripper blush.  But do you really need to “practice” (strut around) the gym floor? At least go into a studio. And please… keep the lights dim. Because I can’t decide if I want my body to look like yours or I want to give you my sweatshirt.

Overzealous exercisers. Yesterday morning, I saw a guy I actually feared would fly off of the elliptical he was working – at about 100 miles an hour. Here’s the thing … the resistance is adjustable on those things. You’re going to get more out of it if you slow it down and add some resistance.

Sweaty twins. For a while there, I thought there was only one of them … but they are in fact two. These girls spend at least an hour on the stepmill, going pretty quickly, and sweating EVERYWHERE. Never a towel in sight. Wearing long sleeves. Mind you, these girls are extremely thin. There is no reason they need to be working that hard or losing any extra water weight.

So … what have you seen around the gym? Is January your favorite people watching time, with all the Resolutioners running (or panting, or wandering confusedly) around the gym?

For When Your Workout Motivation is Lacking…

Most people can come up with a good excuse to skip a workout. When faced with one of these times, it can be smart to follow this easy flow-chart to help you get a little more motivated to get yourself to the gym:

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See the original here. Thanks to my mom for sending it my way!

Weekend Workout Re-wind

So, here I am, another Monday … another day of sitting around waiting for this government shutdown to end (the week off has been nice, but I have to be honest … I’m ready to get back to work. Uncertainty and I are not friends). One thing I will say about this mess is that it has allowed me a little more flexibility in my workouts throughout the last week – not to mention getting a couple extra hours of sleep and hitting the gym at a less crowded hour.

It’s always nice when my workouts are a little less stressful (I know, the point is to REDUCE stress, but when you’re fighting for space – and the clock – sometimes that is not the case). It gives me a little time to get more in-tune with my body, and think about what I’m doing right, what I need to improve upon, and oftentimes, take in the surroundings as a result. That said, here are a few of my observations from the weekend:

  • People really don’t like the new stepmills. I wrote a post a few weeks back about the new Matrix stepmills XSport recently introduced. I decided to couple stairs with my leg workout on Saturday, and I have to say … it was kind of funny to see four old stepmills in use, and maybe two of the old ones. Personally, I like the old ones better – they have a lot more flexibility from a speed standpoint, giving you more variance in your workout.
  • PRAISE THE LORD, THEY BROUGHT BACK ESPN. Now, I know this is not something only I am college-football obsessed to care about. But maybe mid-August, XSport replaced ESPN with MASN (the Nationals baseball channel. YAWN.) Yes, they did still offer ESPN2, but let’s talk about my reaction Week 1 of college football season – the week College Game Day was at Clemson, my alma mater – when I discovered I would not be watching College Game Day during my workout. I freaked out a little. Or a lot. Oh, ESPN, how I’d missed you.
  • I seriously need to learn how to use a foam roller. My right hamstring has been unbelievably tight – to the point of almost being painful – for probably a couple months now. There was more equipment than should ever be in the studio for my Pilates class yesterday (though the Bosus, medicine balls and swiss balls did make for some interesting planks for my challengers), so I figured I’d try my hand (leg?) and trying to roll what I can only assume is a monster knot out of my leg. No such luck. I felt nothing, so clearly I’m not doing something right (on the flipside – literally – I think it did work out a little tension in my quads). Suggestions? Anyone?
  • And finally … I went golfing on Sunday. Why not, when it’s 85 degrees in October? I only played nine holes, and while it wasn’t terrible (okay, one hole I’m quite sure had it in for me, because I think I was over par before I made it off the tee) – I’d even call a few of my shots good – I could definitely still stand a little more practice. Maybe I should put that on my government shutdown how to keep myself entertained now that we’re a week in to-do list…

Hope you had a weekend of great workouts as well!

Don’t Be Lazy (Though these People Did, and it’s Funny)

I came across this great slideshow on MSN this morning, featuring pictures that pretty much define gym laziness at its best. Napping on yoga mats, food remains, standing around doing nothing, a chair(!) on treadmill … there truly are some lethargic gems among these folks.

Which leads me to ask: if you’re going to go to the gym and be lazy, why bother going to the gym?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love both teaching classes and working out on my own at XSport. The club is huge, the members are awesome, you can’t beat 24/7, and I really don’t think I could survive a gym without towel service (as I’ve discovered in the handful of times they’ve been out of clean towels at the start of a workout). There are, however, two things I absolutely cannot stand about the club: the escalators in Alexandria (because people stand, instead of walking down them … which wastes time), and “member appreciation days” during the last week of the month (because they bring in a bunch of food, which usually makes the gym smell terrible … and do you really need to be eating tacos and pizza in a GYM??) If you clicked on the link above, you’ll see both of these – escalators and unhealthy food – on the slideshow. Yikes.

But back to gym laziness. It comes in many forms, and as a person who admits to probably spending too much time in the gym, I like to make the most of every second I spend there. If I’m not sweating, I’m not working hard enough (okay, full disclosure: my body has two temperatures – frozen or sweating – and it takes me, on average, about two minutes of movement to start sweating). So it makes me absolutely crazy to see people standing around talking, hanging for dear life on to machines or resting for far longer than necessary (here’s a tip: you don’t need 5 minutes to recover from one set. Superset, add a cardio burst, work a different body part … you’ll get a lot more done in a lot less time).

That said, my dear gym-goers, I beg of you … if you are going to make the effort to get yourself to the gym, take advantage of the time you spend there. On average, I spend around 12 hours a week in the gym – and have for the better part of the last decade. Throughout those years, I’ve found what works for me, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, hanging out and doing everything in your power to avoid sweating isn’t gonna cut it. While I do admit to having a handful of people I do talk to regularly – and sometimes at length (Rebecca, Nour, RJ and D, I’m looking at you) – they are people who have the same mindset as me (as in we chat between sets or classes, during cardio or on our way out the door).

Perhaps even more so, be aware of your form. You could work out for hours, but if it is with bad form, you will likely not see the results you are looking to see – and potentially even end up with an injury. Stand up straight, take full breaths and maintain control of your movement at all times. As my Pilates classes are, undoubtedly, sick of hearing – use your muscle, not your momentum!

Picked Up This Gem in Orlando Today…

I flew down to Orlando this morning to hang out with the family for a few days and celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday. The parents and I were walking around the park across from our hotel earlier, and stumbled upon this gem…yes, he is walking holding weight plates. Where he found them – and why he decided they were appropriate for his walk – I’m not sure. Regardless…enjoy!


Gym Myths … with a Side of Laughs

I came across this post from A Marathon Runner’s Wife this morning, and after reading just the sample of the story she provided, I had to check out the rest of the article for myself.

Naturally, I have a few thoughts on some of these points, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

6. Don’t fall for gimmicks. The only tried-and-true method to lose 10 pounds in 48 hours is food poisoning.
I’d actually even call that one a stretch … I only lost seven pounds in three days when I had my wisdom teeth removed a decade ago.

7. Yes, every gym has an overenthusiastic spinning instructor who hasn’t bought a record since “Walking on Sunshine.”
I can honestly say I have NEVER played “Walking on Sunshine” (a.k.a. the song every showchoir – mine excluded, THANK GOD – sang in the late 90s). But I may very well be the overenthusiastic spinning instructor…

16. There’s the yoga instructor everyone loves, and the yoga instructor everyone hates. Memorize who they are.
This really depends on what you are looking for. Some people love me, some people think I’m crazy.

17. If you see an indoor rock climbing wall, you’re either in a really cool gym or a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson.
My gym does, in fact, have an indoor rock climbing wall in some of its clubs. Nobody ever uses it.

19. If a gym class is going to be effective, it’s hard. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, you’re at brunch.
I only do hard. Easy is boring. If you want your butt kicked, come to my class.

26. A successful gym membership is like a marriage: If it’s good, you show up committed and ready for hard work. If it’s not good, you show up in sweatpants and watch a lot of bad TV.
I do the hard work, but I’ve also watched an awful lot of ESPN on the treadmill.

If you get a chance, definitely check out the list – it’s hilarious! And with all the myths that are floating around out there, it’s  nice to see some that, while funny, are also so true in so many ways!

Laugh of the Day: A Case of Gym Role-Reversal


Those of us who have spent any amount of time in a gym know the stereotypes: men are tough beasts, and women only lift pink 3 lb. weights. Granted, most of the time they are little more than stereotypes … but think about what it would be like if those male/female stereotypes were switched for the day.

Here’s a taste of what could happen: The Flip Side – Workout

Hope it gives you a good laugh – and maybe makes you think about what you may or may or may not look like to the outside observer during your workout!

A Little Pre-V Day Gym Humor For You …

I don’t have a sweetie to celebrate with tomorrow, but if I did … I could totally see myself saying this (yes, I’m totally that person who peeks over at the speed on the treadmill next to me just to make sure I’m running faster…).