Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Heart My Gym

I've never joined a gym before. The closest I ever got was using the rec center and pool in college, and even then never on a regular basis.

Hey, step off. It was 30-minute walk across campus to class every day. My freshman 15 happened in the negative direction thankyouverymuch.

Why Running Outside is Awesome
When I trained for my half marathon last summer I logged all of my miles outside. I enjoy running outside. I like running through my neighborhood and planning the landscaping do's and don'ts of my future home. Then I run through the Highlands and convince myself I'll NEVER buy a home because it's an anchor weighing down any possible career move and the ROI of my rent is in the shoveling, raking, and mowing I DON'T have to do and tens of thousands of dollars in home repair I won't ever have to pay. Not to mention a house in the Highlands will set you back $500K at the bottom end of the scale.

Then I look at the cute backyards and imagine how nice a gazebo would be with a fire pit and hammock for my lazy Sundays. I imagine nice neighbors who really do have a cup of sugar for me to borrow when I'm baking a cheesecake for a Cherryland's Best & MKEFoodies contest, which, naturally, will be shared with them after I take 2nd place.

By this point I'm on the loop back home and I pass Janet's house, Kelcey's house and then Jennifer's. I may wave as I pass, or stop and say hello. If it's Janet's house you better believe I'm stopping for a beer. Then I realize, hey, even though I rent in this neighborhood I still have the nice neighbors, the backyard, the fire pit (in a different neighborhood, where I am referred to as "The Squatter"), and really everything BUT the ability to turn my front yard into stepped flower beds and backyard into a natural herb garden.

I then arrive back home and realize I've just completed over 5 miles and didn't even know it because I was so busy with my thoughts above. This is why I like running outside.

Why Running Outside Sucks Balls
But then winter hits. In Wisconsin, this usually lasts late October to early May...roughly 7 months of rain, possible snow, ice, and cold temperatures. If it's not too cold I can bundle up and suck it up. When it gets frigid my lungs freeze. If there's ice all bets are off - I can barely walk from my door to the garage without injury, much less run. All it takes is for one jerkoff neighbor to not shovel the snow off his sidewalk to ruin my stride. Four of my broken bones came from ice-related activities, and I've come to accept that I'll never be one of those runners galloping through the winter.

This, then, means I'm on my butt for roughly 6-7 months of the year. Unless, of course, I pay for a gym.

The issue became a dilemma this winter when I was signed up to run the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay with 3 other lovely ladies. I had a team depending on me, and I needed to train sans injury.

So I debated on a gym membership.

I considered the Y, the WAC, and Snap Fitness, all of which have pros and cons (con: price, size, pro: pool, showers, etc), but ultimately decided on a gym a quick drive from my house, with tons of equipment and minimal extras. I don't need extras. Like the opportunity to pay more money for a class. Or daycare...don't need that.

And so I came to Anytime Fitness. Not only is it pretty big for a strip mall gym, but they also have a big parking lot. The staff is ever-helpful, ready to answer your questions and/or leave you the heck alone to your sweaty workout. Free banana Wednesdays, combined with weekly chalkboard drawing, and annual membership appreciation days are little extras that don't necessarily inspire awe, but are nice just the same. Anytime Fitness is also located right across the street from Ray's, which now acts as my proverbial carrot as I run my miles on the treadmill.

I never really ran regularly on a treadmill before. It's not my favorite, but it is easy to get just as lost in a TV show or movie as it is my landscaping dreams above. It's also pretty great for working on my pace. And if I'm a little sore or my feet are tired from yesterday's 6-miler, I can swap the treadmill for the elliptical to give my legs a break. Variety is the spice of life (and building a routine of exercise) and a gym allows me to switch it up by machine, with classes, and with weights. If I need a little extra help I can sign up for personal training. And, once summer hits, Anytime Fitness is a great distance for me to run to from home, stop in for weight training, and then run back.

Oh, and one last thing. I live in a city. A city that sometimes has crime. I'm also a single gal. Running outside poses a certain risk - or, honestly, perception of risk - that I don't always enjoy...especially when it's dark outside. A gym that's open 24-hours, even if it's not always staffed, to me, is better than getting the urge to run at 11:30 PM (it's happened) only to be deterred because I'm afraid of drivers not being able to see me at street crossings.

Last Words
Ultimately, this is my first gym experience, and I'm really digging it. I like going in and seeing the same folks each night, being left to do my thang (I'm an independent gal, after all), in the safe confines of a locked gym. With the florescent lights of Ray's illuminating my imaginary race track. And Project Runway, Chopped, or Being Human making me forget about the miles I'm logging. And I am logging miles for all of the reasons above and the one simple reason that doesn't hurt to reiterate: I like it.

That's what a routine exercise plan is all about...finding something you like and sticking with it because you like it.

____________________________________________________________Mandi Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner
Mandi recently completed her first marathon! Her next goal is running a full half marathon (no walking!) by her next birthday (May 13, 2012).

Follow her journey.

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