Saturday, April 20 – Friday, April 26

Yeah, I know

Never before have I compressed six days into a single entry.  I’m doing so now, however, because there just isn’t much to report.  Mostly that’s because my gym-going is on hold until I start at the new place at the start of May.  Speaking of which, a second local gym is now offering a free month’s membership to members of the about-to-close gym.  It’s about three miles away from me, slightly closer than the one I had been planning to join, and while I’ve never been inside it’s a big facility that presumably has everything I could use.  The monthly rates of the two candidates are about the same.  What I’ll most likely do is ask for a tour of each one and then decide.  It could well be that one of them will have a more suitable atmosphere than the other, for example one could be full of noisy teens while the other attracts serious adults.  I just don’t know, so I’ll have to see for myself.

Some schedule changes are afoot at work.  I had thought I’d be spending May at a worksite just a couple miles away from me (coincidentally, right on the way to the new gym candidate).  Due to a variety of circumstances I won’t be able to start there until the day after Memorial Day.  Next week I’ll be going to a location in Westchester County, just over the Bronx line.  Yay, more (obscene) tolls, fortunately the assignment will be for just one week.  As for the next three weeks, until Memorial Day, I don’t yet know, the company hasn’t yet determined the locations.    I should know by May 1, and hopefully I’ll be reasonably close to home.

Other than that … the last week at my current location in western Suffolk went well, as is usual it was pretty low-pressure and I was able to finish my assignments in five or six hours (I still get paid for eight).  On Wednesday I did hot yoga once again, and my flexibility seemed to be slightly better than it had been.  My balance definitely was better.  One change I made is that I used blocks, which reduce the range of motion in some of the poses (a term I dislike, but whatever) and make things a bit easier for beginners.  I also liked the instructor better, among other things she played background music and offered plenty of encouragement.

Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 18 – Friday, April 19

It actually helped

Thursday was a long and busy day for me, also one that happened to involve quite a bit of physical labor.  After the previous evening’s hot yoga session, however, I was fully invigorated and free of any muscle soreness.  Which illustrates the contrast between yoga and ordinary gym-going.  If I had had a long session with weights on Wednesday evening, even if I always had used proper form I’d have more than my share of aches and pains the next day.  But not with yoga, even though it had been such a tough session.  Along with starting at the new gym, I’ve also resolved to make yoga a regular once-a-week thing.

Thursday may have been a long and exhausting day at work, but Friday was quite the opposite.  I started at 7 am as usual and was pretty much done by noon.  Next week, the last of the four weeks at this location in western Nassau, should be fairly heavy.  I can’t say I’ll be sorry to leave this location, even though the drive’s not too bad, there’s just something about the atmosphere that I don’t particularly like.

Published in: on April 22, 2013 at 2:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 15 – Wednesday, April 17

I actually missed the spirituality stuff

Some new developments at work, which I found out on Monday.  I had thought that I’d be spending four weeks at a time at particular workplaces until November.  Now, though, it looks like I’ll have only two more four-week stints.  In May I’ll be at a site only about five minutes away from me and in June I’ll be going to Westchester County.  After that, I’ll be doing the sort of work I did from October through late February, rotating among a set of eight to ten worksites, spending one day at each one every two weeks.  It pays the same as the four-week-at-a-time schedule, and I find the work a bit more interesting.  All in all, a positive development.

Work itself wasn’t bad these three days.  Monday was the hardest day, Wednesday the easiest, and Tuesday sort of in-between.  What made Wednesday interesting is that in the evening I went to a hot yoga session.  It’s the third time I’ve gone, though the last time was back in October.  I’m still a rank beginner, not to mention rather inflexible, but yoga’s non-competitive nature means it doesn’t really matter.  Anyway, of the 30 or so people in the session I seemed to be in a cluster of newcomers.  It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened.  I was pleased to note that I wasn’t the only person who occasionally had to take a break and lie on the mat.  Keep in mind that a hot yoga session runs about 90 minutes with only a couple official breaks of a minute or so each.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s 105 degrees in the room?

During my last session in October there was New Age-y music playing and the instructor talked a lot about spiritual and mental things.  Nothing that I can recall specifically.  In Wednesday’s session, however, there was no music and the instructor talked mostly about physical aspects, like she was conducting an ordinary exercise session.  Instructors have discretion over music and the things they say.  I know, this is terribly vague, but the difference between now and then was quite apparent to me.  To my surprise, I actually preferred the way October’s instructor emphasized the spiritual side of yoga.  It’s not that I necessarily believe in all of it, but hearing that sort of talk somehow manages to make my muscles less tense.  I’m not even going to try to speculate why.  And I must emphasize that even Wednesday’s more down-to-Earth session was still satisfying.  Getting through the session is quite a challenge, but I made it, and am glad I did.

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 2:22 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14

Mostly a do-nothing weekend, just some food shopping and miscellaneous errands.  I did find a solution to the new-gym question.  The gym about five miles away that used to be affiliated with the one that’s about to close is giving a month’s free membership to anyone who transfers, effective anytime during May.  It’s probably the best choice.  Although there are a couple of closer gyms, though not by all that much, it has really nice facilities and is reasonably priced.

My new Kindle reading is Boomerang by Michael Lewis.  It’s a fairly short, semi-comedic account of the author’s travels through some of the countries most severely affected by the Eurozone crisis, so far I’ve gotten through Iceland, Greece and Ireland.  He recounts some anecdotes that make it pretty clear why these countries turned into such economic disasters.  Iceland was basically a country of fishermen who decided to become big-time financiers, while Greece had a totally dysfunctional government with a hugely bloated bureaucracy and rampant tax evasion.  As for Ireland, the money quote is that at the height of the real estate boom several years ago, the number of houses under construction in Ireland was about half the number in Britain …. which has more than 15 times as many people.  Mull over that factoid for a while.  Anyway, it’s fun reading, and certainly more intellectually stimulating than going online.  Not that that’s saying much.

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 11 – Friday, April 12

Relieving the pressure

Now that I’m taking a break from going to the gym until I find a new one at the end of this month, I’m experiencing what I can only describe as a relief from pressure.  It’s tough to articulate.  Here goes nothing: back when I was going to the gym on a more regular basis, I was under pressure to go every day whether I wanted to or not.  Pressure from within, of course – nobody was standing over me with a whip – but pressure nonetheless.  Or it might be described in the alternative as a tremendous sense of guilt that came over me when I didn’t go.  Terminology doesn’t really matter.  What counts is that going to the gym gradually became a duty rather than the pleasure it should have been.  This of course caused the quality of  my sessions, and what I got out of them, to deteriorate.  For example, in the last several months I did mostly bench pressing and other upper-body work, but almost entirely stopped doing deadlifts and squats.

All of which is a way of saying that taking what will amount to a month off should be of considerable therapeutic value, with the term being used primarily in a mental rather than physical sense.  When I start out at a new gym at the end of the month, as I’ve vowed to do, I’m hoping that I’ll be reinvigorated mentally, and most of all that I’ll look forward to going on a regular basis.  That’s the only real way it can work.  Treating it as a duty is a recipe for failure.

As for work, it’s been going well, I’ve now reached the halfway point of my 4-week stay at the current worksite.  The next site will be in the northeastern part of the Bronx.  I’d been there for a couple of days in January.  While there’ll be more driving, not to mention the Throgs Neck Bridge and its (obscene) tolls, I’ll be working 7-3 rather than 8-4 as I had been, so I should be able to miss the worst of the rush hour traffic.

Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 8 – Wednesday, April 10

My new strategy

With a couple weeks remaining until the gym shuts its doors, you’d think that I’d be going as much as possible.  That would be the logical thing, right? Of course that’s not what is happening.  I actually haven’t gone at all since last week and really have no desire to go.  Forcing myself to go isn’t an option.  When it comes to exercise, either you want to or you don’t, and nothing can change that.

One thing I have vowed is that I’ll start my search for a new gym this weekend.  It probably won’t be much of a search, in that I have one place in mind as previously noted, but nonetheless some effort on my part will be required.  Once I join another gym, I really do believe that my motivation will return.  New environments really can make a difference.  In fact, if I’m sufficiently ambitious I might actually spring for a couple of personal training sessions at the new gym.  Getting an outside view as to what I should be doing (and not doing) could well provide a boost in much the same way as starting at a new place.

My commuting to and from my latest workplace has been trouble-free.  It’s also quite predictable, as the Sunrise Highway generally does not have as much “drama” as the Long Island Expressway.  I’ve noted that the trip each day is within a few minutes each way of 40 minutes, almost never longer.  And of course there are no bridges and (obscene) tolls to add their own special brand of uncertainty.  Speaking of the Long Island Expressway, on Tuesday I had to make a late-evening trip to LaGuardia Airport and back.   During rush hour it would have been a horror show, but as I was traveling well after rush hour it didn’t take much more than an hour each way.

Published in: on April 12, 2013 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 6 – Sunday, April 7

I was very industrious this weekend in terms of finding a new gym.  This included doing careful online research, visiting several gyms in person, comparing their – all right, I did nothing.  Absolutely zilch.  In fact it was a generally lazy weekend, except for some household chores I mostly just went online and did some reading on my phone’s Kindle app.  I was reading The Disaster Diaries by Sam Sheridan, an informal but ultimately serious look at the whole disaster-preparation and TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) field.  It’s not really a how-to book, though after reading it I might be able to tan a deer hide (hint: you use its brain) and build an igloo.  Chances are pretty slim I’ll be doing either anytime soon.  All and all it’s interesting reading, and I particularly liked the way Sheridan debunked the usual stories that any sort of natural disaster will lead to rampaging mobs in search of victims.  Even after Hurricane Katrina there was almost no mob violence and relatively little looting.

Published in: on April 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm  Comments (1)  

Wednesday, April 3 – Friday, April 5

Closing!

I found out that the gym where I’ve been going for almost a decade will be shutting down at the end of the month.  The explanation given to members is that the lease is expiring, and the gym management tried to negotiate new lease terms with the landlord but was unsuccessful.  Basically, your typical and all too common rapacious-landlord story.  If it’s true.  I’ve also heard that the landlord served eviction papers on the gym.  Which could merely be a way of ensuring it’ll be out of the premises when the lease expires, or it also could be that the gym was delinquent on its rent.

A couple of things make me suspect that the gym might have had trouble paying its rent.  It’s been getting increasingly run-down looking for the past year or so, with more broken equipment and a generally untidy look.  In retrospect, the closing of the child care room about a year ago might have been a sign of trouble on the horizon.  There’s also the fact that the space it occupies isn’t particularly desirable, making it less likely that a greedy landlord is trying to get high rents from a different tenant.  While the gym is in a fairly large, busy shopping plaza, it’s located at the end of the plaza most distant from the main traffic flows.  That’s not really an issue for a business that people go to as a purposeful destination, such as a gym, but doesn’t work as well for a store or restaurant that gets more casual traffic.

Whatever the true cause may be, the notice says that gym management is looking for a new location in the area and hopes to reopen soon.  Well, maybe.  There doesn’t seem to be much available commercial space of the necessary size (I’d guess around 25,000 to 30,000 square feet) in the area, and even if the gym finds a good location it’ll take a while to convert the space to its needs.  I have no idea what management will do with all of the gym’s heavy and bulky equipment in the meantime.  Finally, it’s my impression that businesses do not often successfully relocate.

As to what all this means to my gym-going, I really can’t say.  One thing that’s definitely clear is that my motivation has been on the decline for months.  I don’t go to the gym as often as I once did, and when I go my sessions are shorter.  Now I’ll be faced with having to find a new gym.  My most likely choice is one that used to be affiliated with the present gym – in fact I went there for a couple of weeks several years ago during some renovations – that’s about five miles away.  It’s a really nice facility and the price is right.  Other than that, there are a couple of reasonably close mega-gyms that are affiliated with national chains, but they’re more expensive and I fear that they give prospective members sales pitches to try to get them to sign extended contracts.  The latest craze in the area seems to be Cross Fit, but that program is more regimented than I’d like, and in any event it’s really expensive.  So it’ll probably be the former affiliate.  Maybe going to a new place will rekindle my flagging enthusiasm.

On a different note, these were fairly easy days at work, in fact I was able to get out an hour or so early each day because all my tasks were done.  My mouth was still quite painful from Tuesday’s extremely unpleasant dentist visit, but I’ve been at the job long enough that I can get my stuff done without being too distracted.

Published in: on April 9, 2013 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 1 – Tuesday, April 2

The drive?  Not so bad.  The dentist?  So bad.

Monday marked not just April Fool’s Day, but the start of a month-long work assignment in western Suffolk County. I wasn’t sure how much traffic I’d encounter so I left the house at 5:50 in the morning.  That turned out to be way more time than necessary.  Traffic on the Sunrise Highway wasn’t bad, generally lighter than it would have been on the Long Island Expressway at the same time.  Even having to deal with several traffic lights on the Sunrise, which loses its status as a light-less, limited access highway about five miles short of the Nassau line, wasn’t that big of a deal.  Nor did it matter too much that the most direct route was unusable due to overpass construction.  I made it to the worksite about 6:40, not bad for a 30-mile trip that involves quite a bit of driving on regular streets as opposed to highways.  As the drive doesn’t involve any bridge crossings it lacks the element of uncertainty that is such an issue if I’m going to the Bronx or Westchester.  Not to mention no (obscene) tolls.

Getting home was no more troublesome than the morning had been.  There can be heavy traffic on the eastbound Sunrise during evening rush hours near the junction with the Southern State Parkway in East Islip, but one advantage of working a 7 to 3:30 schedule is that I can make it past that point before things get bad.  I went to the gym for a while to do some shoulder work, doing Hammer Strength MTS shoulder presses, 6 x 8 x 100/100.

Tuesday was another easy day in driving terms.  The morning trip was about 45 minutes, not counting a brief stop at 7-11, and the afternoon around the same.  What was not so easy was my 5 pm dentist appointment.  For reasons I don’t understand I required much more Novocaine than usual, and the dentist’s work took much longer than I expected.  By the time I got home I was completely worn out, and when the Novocaine wore off soon afterwards my mouth was quite sore.  There was no way I could have made it to the gym, not a chance.

Published in: on April 4, 2013 at 2:01 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday, March 30 – Sunday, March 31

I had a pretty decent gym session on Saturday.  Not really feeling weak any longer, I did some benching, nothing close to a record but not bad nonetheless: 6 x 135, 6 x 185, 3 x 4 x 225, 8 x 185, 10 x 135.  On the second set at 185 I had a coughing fit with a couple of reps to go, but somehow – don’t ask me how – was able to complete the set.  Determination, maybe.  In the evening we had a nice dinner at an Indian restaurant thanks to a 50% Groupon deal.  Groupon barrages me with spam, but ever so often something pretty good gets through.  I had a paneer dosa, always one of my favorites.

The gym was only open until noon on Sunday, it being Easter, and I just wasn’t in the mood to go that early.  As I’ve noted, I am not a morning exerciser.  We had a nice dinner, roast leg of lamb (my preference for rabbit stew not having gone over too well), and all in all it was a relaxing day, in advance of my return to work on Monday.

Published in: on April 2, 2013 at 1:24 am  Leave a Comment