So, I started going to a gym. No, I am not hitting a middle-age crisis as some people think *cough*IWS*cough*. I am not a "gym person", but when Liz and I signed up to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer in June, I knew that we needed to start training, around now, and since it's too cold, and frankly, unpleasant, to bike outdoors right now, Liz and I decided to join a gym.
I actually like the gym we joined. We never go there without running into a friend of ours. It's basically a gym where I don't feel terribly out of place.
The gym overwhelms you with metrics these days, at least the bike machines do. No longer is a bike machine a "stationary bicycle" It's got different settings, different workout routines built in, it's got displays that tell you the resistance, the amount of time, the amount of calories you've burned, your heart rate, rpms, and distance. You can measure your performance six ways from sunday. I was originally excited, and then I thought. "why bother, I just want to fucking bike". In the end, I don't get gym culture.
My attitude is more like the NYC Bike Snob, as detailed in this post.
And this isn't only true of the bicycles themselves. It's also true of the way people ride them. It's no longer just enough to get on your bike and go. You need goals, and you need an agenda. And most importantly, you need a coach. A reader recently forwarded me this article from the Los Angeles Times (Isn't that cute? LA has its own Times, just like a real city!) about how to "Bicycle Your Way To Fitness." Presumably, this is intended for novices, and it features bits of practical advice from a coach by the name of David Brinton, such as:
Keep a training diary. "It gives you a reference of where you started and where you are today," Brinton says. "If you time yourself going up a hill at a particular heart rate, how do you know if you've improved if you haven't been logging it?"
Yes, it's absolutely vital to keep a training diary and to know whether or not you've improved. Actually, I apply this technique to every area of my life. For example, I also keep an eating diary. I mean, sometimes I have a sandwich for lunch and I think it's pretty good, but how do I know if it's as good as the sandwich I had yesterday? If every lunch isn't incrementally better than the previous one, then I'm just not eating productively. Life is meant to be improved upon, not enjoyed.