Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Perils of the Gym

I am not a good gym person.  Although I've exercised regularly since I was in my teens, I didn't join an actual gym until a year and a half ago, and now I'm going to leave it.  For some reason, going to a gym for me is a lot like going to church:  if it's an unfamiliar one, I am really self-conscious, and if I haven't been for some time, almost equally so.  I feel I must speak to people I don't know and don't really want to, and it's morning, if I'm going to get it done. Morning is the only time I don't feel like talking, or having anyone look at me at all. And I feel guilty when I don't go, although evidently not guilty enough, since I've been faithful to neither treadmill nor pew for a good long time.  I've got a wonderful trail, complete with a killer hill, near my new house, and I've had no issue with fidelity to that task, so I'm still working hard, but outside in relative solitude.

That said, I did invest in a few sessions with a great trainer and have a few things at my new house (where I have room to work out indoors if I have to) and now broken my cardio-only fixation and succumbed to strength training, a good thing for a forty-something woman to do, if she wants to be able to bring in the groceries herself without tearing a rotator cuff.  But it turns out maybe my uncharacteristic introversion as far as workouts go might not be just me being neurotic (guilty as charged) but may actually have some basis in the rational world. 

Jane Brody is a well-regarded health writer, and I enjoy her column because it's non-alarmist and gives good practical advice about staying fit.  Brody is in her mid-fifties, so she isn't chirping about staying in shape as a person with knees that don't creak. Her most recent piece, "Be Sure Exercise Is All You Get at the Gym," is a little scary, though.  It suggests the following for your next visit to your favorite workout spot:

  • Wash your hands before and after you use the equipment;
  • Bring your own regularly cleaned mat for floor exercises;
  • Shower with anti-bacterial soap and put on clean clothes immediately after your workout;
  • Use only your own towels, razors and bar soap.
Okay, so I wouldn't shave my legs at the gym with somebody else's pink blades, but still, if I hadn't been going to a place affiliated with a hospital and cardiac rehab facility, I suppose I could have contracted MRSA, something one doesn't want to read about on a full stomach. 

When my alarm goes off every weekday at 6:15, even when I know it's almost light outside, I have a regular argument with myself.  "I'll go tonight."  "It will be 102 degrees/freezing cold/funnel clouds in the sky tonight, and you won't go."   (It's North Texas, so clement weather, particularly in July and August, cannot be expected past seven in the morning.) If I had the Staph infection argument, I'd never work out at all.  So I hope Brody's article doesn't put people off, although I know many a solid gym rat who probably knew all this stuff.  If you didn't, read up.  I'll be on the trail.


  1. I have a bike. But the outfits aren't cute. Plus I know at least two people who've been hit by other bikes (one woman lost all of her front teeth) and another who was killed on the road. And if I get a flat tire, it will require much more mechanical skill than I possess to fix it!