Posts Tagged ‘Fitness’

Some of you regular readers may recall I had a pull-up rack set up in a corner of my backyard.  Image below…

Pull-up Stand with Double-End Target

I was always intending to use the setup as a multi-function station for working out going forward.  My initial modification was the addition of two “eye-screws” to setup a horizontal double end punching bag.  As you see, I made it out of an old basketball, a basketball net and a couple of bungee cords.  This has worked out reasonably well…
The “main” goal of the setup was to have a pull-up station.  Unfortunately, it turns out I am FAR too out of shape to hang from the bar, let alone try to do a pull-up.  In my first (aborted) attempt, I nearly pulled my arms out of their sockets “trying” to hang.  I was able to hang for just long enough for me to remember my age before letting go (aka: “falling”).  Also, despite my interest in adding “DIY” boxing options, I will NOT EVER be boxing / sparring.  I have a heart condition and am on blood thinners which (technically) make me a “border-line” hemophiliac (a “bleeder”).  The boxing options are only for their fitness / exercise value.
To make a longer story short, I scavenged some parts from my old “Total-Gym” and have now set up a “Lat – pulldown” system which I can use to build up my strength until I can hang from the bar and try another pull-up.  Image below…

Image of Lower Bar & Lat Pulley Setup

Lower Bar & Lat Pulley Setup

A “Lat – pulldown” is an exercise which concentrates on the latissimus dorsi muscles.  These are the muscles used to pull something down from above your head or to pull your head and body up to something which is above your head / shoulders.  In this case, I am using four(4) ten pound weights.  At the moment I have completed day four(4) of a 30 day challenge to do five(5) sets of fifty(50) “reps” (repetitions).  After each set, I turn 45° and do a cross-body pull down Left to Right (50 reps) and then Right to Left (50 reps).  In all, 250 reps of the double and 250 reps per side.  As I get stronger (and less sore), I hope to get up to 10 sets per day.  Hopefully, by the end of the 30 days I will be able to suspend myself in a hanging position for a few seconds.  Then I can proceed to descending pull-ups, which will lead to actual “up” pull-ups.
I have an additional five(5) modifications under consideration:  1) adding a “slip bag”;  2)  adding a “heavy bag”;  3) adding a vertical “double-end, double bag”; 4) adding a “speed bag”; and, 5) adding a two-grip, low level pulley systems to create a “rower”.
So, that’s the progress.  And, that’s the future plans…  (Oh, yeah.  The posts and the rest of the back fence have to be painted / stained to help reduce / prevent weathering.)
On This Day In:
2020 Still Crazy After All These Years…
2019 20 / 20 Foresight
He Knew Damned Well…
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Vive La Difference

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Back in July / August I completed a 42 day juice fast.  It was originally scheduled as a 7 day starter to kick off an attempt at changing my eating habits.  I began the fast at 380 pounds and finished at 311 pounds.  In the past, I tended to regain any weight lost from fasting at a rate of about 5lbs  per year (after regaining immediate stomach content and water weight).  This time, that hasn’t happened at all.  As of this morning, I am at 353 pounds – give or take 5 pounds for variations in clothing.  While I am still down 25 pounds, I’ve regained (almost immediately) close to  2/3rds of the weight I lost in the fast.  That’s the bad news…
The good news is that I joined Planet Fitness at the end of last month and the results of the workouts have been good physically, even if not demonstrated on the scale (yet).  I promised a review of Planet Fitness and the rest of this post will be about that…  (This is kind of a long post.  So, if you are not interested in a Planet Fitness review for any reason, feel free to leave now and come back tomorrow…)
Planet Fitness (PF) is a relatively low cost, 24 hour access gym who’s mottos are: “no intimidation & judgment free zone“.  In other words, it caters to those who don’t have money to go to a “normally” priced ($50-$100 / month) gym AND to those who really don’t know much about working out (newbies) AND those who are not serious about lifting heavy weights.  FP has two plans: $22 and $10.  The “Black” card membership gets you access to a few “perks” (bring a friend, use any PF facility, free tanning and free hydro-massage bed).  The cheaper, “White” card is the plan I chose.  I don’t have any friends to come workout with me.  I don’t want to travel to another facility.  My club is a 3 minute drive from my house.  Five minutes if I miss the one light on the way there.  And lastly, I’m not sure I’m interested in tanning or massages.  In addition to the monthly dues, there is a joining fee ($40) and there is always an annual fee ($40).  The joining fee is normally discounted at least one week a month.  I waited until  it was $1.50 to join.  The annual fee is normally scheduled at two months after you join and payments are auto-debited from your bank.  So, reaaalllyyy, it works out to either $13 / month for the “white” card membership or $24 / month for the “Black” card membership.  Either way, it’s less than $1 per day for 24 hour access.
There are three things which always get a lot of comments in reviews of Planet Fitness:  Pizza, Bagels and Tootsie Rolls.  A slice of pizza is free on the first Monday of each month at 6pm and at 8pm.  (These are the times for “my” gym.  Yours may vary.)  Bagels are for the morning of the first Tuesday of each month.  And, Tootsie Rolls (mini’s) are available 24 hours at the front desk / reception area.  If you want one, take one.  I have not indulged in the pizza or bagels, because I wasn’t there at the correct time to receive them.  I have had a single Tootsie Roll and, yes, they are the same as when I was a kid.  Are these items helpful to those of us trying to shed pounds?  NO!  But, if you are that upset by the give-aways, don’t take them.  I’m not normally one to promote temptation, but I also believe in a little personal responsibility…  In other words, they don’t bother me.
Weights:  limited.  There are free benches, fixed-weight barbells (up to 50 pounds) and fixed-weight dumbbells (up to 70 pounds).  There are also a number of racks for lifting (called “Smith Machines”) which can be used for variable weights and go up fairly heavy.  I believe the maximum weight would probably be “around” 450 pounds with 5X45lbs on each side.  I don’t care for Smith machines because they are designed for safety and sacrifice free motion for the increased “safety”.  Because the barbell / weights follow a track, you don’t really get to “feel” the weight the same as you would if the weight / bar were free.  If the machine happens to be a good track for your particular body structure, more power to you.  If it doesn’t, I believe you are more likely to get injured by not following a path “normal” for you.  Still they are better than nothing.
Other Weight Machines:  The PF I go to has 2 or 3 of about 15 different types of weight machines.  This include the basic “Nautilus” style circuit / cable setups and fixed “iso” machines.  I like the cable machines because I can alternate between one or two handed grips and they allow you the more natural range of motions which the Smith machines do not.  I have not used many of the “iso” machines, but they have the same issue as the Smith Machines and are even more limited in weights because you can’t add more weight to them.  Having said this, for the target membership of beginner users, the amount of weight is generous.  All the ones I’ve actually looked at went up to at least 250 pounds.  That is FAR more than any (99.9999%) new lifter will ever need.
Aerobic Machines:  PF probably has 75+ aerobic “type” machines…  Stairmasters, treadmills, stationary cycles (normal and recumbent), and elliptical.  Interestingly (to me), they don’t have any rowing machines (which I like using).  They do have cables rows and iso-machine rows, but not actual rowing machines.  This means you cannot exercise both your arms and legs concurrently.
Specialty Rooms:  PF has three “specialty” rooms.  One is for “Hips & Abs”.  One is for an “express” 30-minute workout.  And the last one is for Synergy 360.  These can be used for classes / group workouts or individually.  If you are not “in” the class, you may be asked to leave the room.  I have not joined any classes (and probably won’t).  I use everything by myself.  There are also a few (I’ve counted three) mats for you to use for stretching / floor workouts.  All in all though, there is not a lot of free floor space for stretching / yoga type activity.
Changing Rooms:  The changing rooms have toilets, showers and lockers.  The lockers are “supposed” to be day use only (take your lock with you when done), but there are four full sized  lockers and they seem to have permanent locks on them.  I have been there when there  were fewer than five male patrons and over 15 locks were on lockers, so obviously, the “day use” locker’s rule is not enforced.  Generally, the changing rooms and toilets look well maintained.
So far, I’ve found the staff to be friendly, professional and competent.  They greet me when I come in and say good-bye (or wave) when I leave.  They will come help you with a machine, but they do not appear to watch the users to see if they are struggling or need assistance.  If asked, they will give you a tour of the facility and highlight the functions of some of the equipment, but I had the tour and they never specifically showed me how to use ANY single piece of equipment.  In theory, the labels on the kit solves / explains most of  this, but I still prefer human instruction.  But that’s just me…  They will stop their own “personal” conversations if they are approached by a member with a question.
Conclusion:  The price is very reasonable for the facility and access AND the gym is less than a mile from my front door.  Most of my initial soreness is gone and I’m just in my go and get sore for the day phase.  I will admit, I do NOT like crowds and I actively avoid going during their busiest times.  I have been there one time when almost every aerobic and weight bench was in use.  There were still some free iso-machine stations and you just have to get on with whatever you can.  Fortunately, few folks seem to stay as long as I do, so eventually, the machine / space I want to use opens up for my use.  After just about completing my first month (I’ve been 13 out of 24 calendar days), I am pretty happy with my decision to join.
On This Day In:
2017 The Great Leveler
Conservative Depressions
2016 Election + 1 Month
2015 Dance And Sing
2014 A Measuring Stick For Progress
2013 Courtly Love Or Victory Over Habit
2012 Have We Met?
2011 Efficiently Useless

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Well, at long last I got back on the pavement!!  This morning, I forced myself out of my nice warm bed, strapped on my Keds and went out to pound some pavement.
The sun was just up.  The sky was cloudless and clear blue.  The frost was everywhere…  Despite my doubts and the persistent questions (“Why do you keep doing this to yourself?“), I managed to slow jog around the block three times (1.2 miles total according to Google maps).  This was my first time out doing anything other than walking my dog since mid-November when I had my electrical cardioversion.  I felt terrific, like I could go forever…  But tomorrow is another day.  I finished with a cool-down walk of my dog – for another mile.  All told, about 45 minutes and 2.2 miles.  And so it begins again (I hope).
On This Day In:
2016 The Best Of Circumstances
2015 Reverberating Silence
2014 Wrong Again?
2013 Improper Faith
2012 One More Rung
2011 Sunday Morning Earlies (Hugging trees and smiling…)
Updates On Life
2010 It’s Gettin’ Deep In Here

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Of course, it’s much easier to get thin than to get fit.  Getting thinner is simply a matter of denying yourself nourishment for as long as you can.  If you reduce your caloric intake enough, your body will begin to devour itself, and in a few weeks or months, you’ll be thinner.  But you won’t be fit.  In fact, it’s likely that you’ll be in worse shape than before you lost weight.  Fitness requires perspiration.  There’s no shortcut around that fact.
     —    John “The Penguin” Bingham
From his book:  “No Need For Speed

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