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Fighting Mr. Gravity

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So even though I'm taking this week off, I've still got a few events I need to go into the office for. Today I had a meeting that couldn't get re-scheduled, and tomorrow, my boss has a VTC that's "muy importante", so I'll need to be there for a few hours.

But, the good news is that I'm getting tons of SWMBO's honey-do list items done. Just need to knock out our taxes, get the cars registered, and clean the BBQ grill. Yesterday, we had a great morning & afternoon getting massages.....and I even got a manicure...yes, further proof that I am secure in my manhood!

Even though I had to go through a few hours of meetings at work, I made it to the gym (and my newly designed weight room at that....see blog;
) for my periodic "Heavy Legs Day"

Well, Mr. Gravity and I had some interesting conversations today. He fought me tooth and nail every time I tried to lift those heavy weights against his irresistible attracting force.

I started out with squats....4 sets of 5 reps @ 235 lbs. Then deadlifts...3 sets of 4 @ 300 lbs and on it went throughout the afternoon, ending up with 3 sets of 10 barbell curls @ 75 lbs....and final muscular exhaustion. I even got in a very solid 3 sets of 4 pullups….from a dead hang and full chin over the bar every time, followed up by 3 sets of 5 chinups in quick succession! Whether I was pushing or pulling, Mr. Gravity exerted himself, making his presence known, refusing to be ignored!

But I feel real good now (more so because SWMBO has got some freaking gigantic gulf shrimp, fresh off the Bubba Gump boat, boiling away in the kitchen!) These are some amazing workouts though. I think, after 3 years of serious weight lifting, I’m at the intermediate stage, reaching limits where progress is slower, gains are dependent on making sure I’ve got enough recovery time built in before the next heavy lifting session.

I checked my scores on some pretty cool charts that are age-adjusted for various types of lifts;

I'm smack in the intermediate range for just about everything for my age & weight. I've made a lot of gains, especially my first year getting serious about ST. As I do more research (and feel how Mr. Gravity resists those who fight against his pull) I'm finding I need to do some expectation management on myself. There's probably some genetic limit I'm bound to bump against at some point.

But until then, I'll keep pushing it, slowly adding one more rep each time until I can add another 5 lbs to the bar, then start over again. I'll alternate between heavy lifting days and medium weight days to build in time for recovery. And I'll keep doing cardio on days when I'm not lifting, burning it up in the spin class or my road bike as the weather warms up.

The good news is that Mr. Gravity is my best friend in the world when I crest a hill and start that downhill cycling run!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BERGBA7 2/28/2013 2:59PM

    Hm... Good that The Stasi trainer is there to fight Mr. Gravity with the weights you are lifting! Really great numbers and a special congrats for the chin-ups! Wohooo!!!
emoticon emoticon

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 2/28/2013 6:41AM

    Great post! Congrats on all the successes. Enjoy your time off...

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((¸¸.•´ ..•´ Keep Spreading the Spark!-:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.•´*

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    I love hearing about your lifting - thank you for sharing! and WOW - you lift heavy

Color me impressed!


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TEXAS_GRL 2/27/2013 8:54PM

    HA! I also love gravity when I am running downhill too. :) Great blog ~ you have really come a long way in the last couple of years!! Enjoy the rest of your vacation! emoticon

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I designed a professional gym!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

So how cool is this....I just designed a professional gym's weight room!

For the last 6 weeks, the gym I go to has been remodeling. They added a floor to accommodate a whole bunch of new cardio equipment and built an addition for a new (and much larger) weight room, which is great, because the one I've worked out in these last 3 years has slowly gotten very tight and crowded.

Not exactly sure how it got started, but as Stasi-trained trainer guy and I got wind of the plan to expand, we'd start brainstorming on the best places to put the barbells, the squat rack, benches, etc, as well as how it would be great if we weren't constantly bumping in to equipment.

Well I have certain "well-developed people skills" (SWMBO says I'm just a manipulative bastard.....I disagree with her about the bastard part) so I started working on the gym manager a few weeks ago, getting details on his plans and timeline.

A long time ago, when I was just a young pup starting out in the workforce, a real senior guy in my organization told me, "Kid, the key to success is to get your boss to think your ideas are his ideas!"

This has served me well over the years.

Over the last few weeks, we've gone from shooting the breeze with the gym manager, to reviewing his equipment floor plans (complimenting him on his choices, "but have you thought about putting the squat rack in front of this mirror?"), to working our way in to actual move day, supervising the crews that were laying down the equipment.


So after Friday's workout (one of those hi-rep/medium weight leg workouts that are just excruciating), Stasi-trainer guy and I worked our way into the decision-making process that would affect our lives for months to come.

It was pretty darn cool. I'm a "roll-up your sleeves" kind of guy anyway, so I just jumped right in and started moving weights from one room to the other (after moving 10,000 lbs of weights, I decided this counted as a second workout for the day!), making sure I was around whenever the crews were making critical decisions on equipment placement.

Bottom line....I think I've got the kind of gym I've always wanted! And I'm humble enough to say that not all my ideas were right (what's the old saying, "I thought I was wrong once....but I was wrong"), the gym manager had some interesting insights about how placing the barbell racks perpendicular to the wall would open up a lot of space, "Brilliant! You're feng shui is very powerful!"

Needless to say, Stasi-trainer guy and I were very happy. This morning though, I am pretty darn tired. Oh it's a good soreness, but hefting 45 lb plates and 100 lb dumbbells for 3 hours after a workout last night makes today a rest day!

In retrospect, as I sit here sipping my morning coffee, I'm amazed at how far I have come in 5 years. In 2007, I was a pack-a-day smoker and 30-40 lbs overweight. Today, at 53, I feel like an athlete. I can workout hard, then I can move 10,000 lbs of weights, correctly, without hurting myself, and feel good about it.

Hmmmm, maybe a reward for that is to go get me a new iPhone 5 today!

Have a great day Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GREENGENES 2/28/2013 9:35PM

    Very cool. When they built the new fitness center on campus I was invited to serve on the advisory committee. It turned out to be more of a rubber stamp committee though so not as much fun. It turned out pretty well though and has been a great addition.

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KA_JUN 2/27/2013 8:56PM

    From 2007 to 2013. Look at you now, hardcore! emoticon

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VHALKYRIE 2/27/2013 7:23PM

    I heard a similar saying that the key to negotiations and influencing people is to get them to think it was their idea all along! It served us well with car and house negotiations!

It has not worked well on getting the husband to change his diet or change the cat litter, though. I think he's on to me.

Congrats on your new gym and your new improved, now with 30lbs less fat and smoke, iron pumping bod'!

Comment edited on: 2/27/2013 7:32:58 PM

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MOM23JS 2/26/2013 9:10PM

    I always love reading your blogs and you are such an inspiration to someone like me who is always trying to push and find a new adventure... and live!!

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DDOORN 2/26/2013 12:41PM

    BIG kudos to being a "roll up your sleeves" kinda guy!

That, from an all-thumbs, do it the hard way kinda!


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GOSPELCLOWN 2/26/2013 12:21AM

    How often does a person get to contribute to a project like that??? Way to go.

Hope you treated yourself to the iPhone too.

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PROT358 2/26/2013 12:18AM

    That's so cool, and I bet you feel so accomplished!

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-DAVE- 2/24/2013 1:20PM

    Movers and shakers definitely shape our world as opposed to delegators.

Excellent and emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/24/2013 1:20:20 PM

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    Did you need an excuse to get the iphone 5? Naaa.
Great job, though. You must feel right at home in that new gym.

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HANSBRINK 2/23/2013 9:35PM

  Very cool! Sounds like you've taken pride in the execution of the plan.

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BEATLETOT 2/23/2013 7:23PM

    AWESOME!!! You are so cool!

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BERGBA7 2/23/2013 3:15PM

    very cool and the part I like most is you quitting smoking several years ago! Best decision ever!

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    This blog made me smile - and I think you've earned that iPhone 5...


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    That is awesome!

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    Oh, I hear that Iphone 5 calling your name!
Another great blog .... and loved your roll-up-your-sleeves-kinda-guy ATTITUDE. emoticon

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RUN4FOOD 2/23/2013 9:37AM

    Congratulations on the new gym
Sounds like you have made some major life changes and are sticking with them.
Here's to continued good health.

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BILL60 2/23/2013 9:01AM

    Not bad for a 53 year old. Perhaps when you get to 68 (my b'day was Thursday) and look and feel like YO, you can really feel good about yourself. Until then, you're a distant second. Hang tough and well done with the gym.

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KKKAREN 2/23/2013 8:41AM


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Neanderthals and iPhones!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Covetous....yes, I am covetous. I have suffered much, drowning in a sea of envy, a deep, gaping hole in my soul yearning for.....

....a new iPhone!

It's a long and somewhat complicated story, one that strikes me at the core of my being.....a love of gadgets!

As many of my Spark buds know, I love working out....and I love gadgets & gizmos; Polar heart rate monitors, Bodymedia armbands, Garmin GPS watches, yadd-yadda-yadda.

When I work out, I am instrumented up like shuttle astronaut

I love to get read outs on all sorts of things, then to come back home, slice it, dice it, plot it...and feast my gaze upon endless charts....yeah, I'm a geek and proud of it!

Well I had a smartphone tragedy 2 weeks ago. I'd had an Otterbox, ultra-protective case on my iPhone 4 for about 2 years, and, on a whim, decided to go for a smaller, thinner shell case.

Bad move....4 weeks after the switch, I dropped the damn thing on my concrete driveway during a particularly blustery morning. CRACK!

So I did some research, hearing the rumors about impending iPhone 5S production lines this summer. I've hung out like a pimply teen at the AT&T store playing at their iPhone 5 display, wondering if I should buy one now or wait.

Then I took a spin class today....and determined....I MUST HAVE ONE!

There I was on my usual bike, pedaling away, when I glanced over at the guy on the bike next to me setting up his iPhone on the handlebars. He nonchalantly pulled up an app that started synching with his heart rate monitor, displaying an instantaneous read out of all his vitals.

Imagine my shock, my horror, my utter humiliation as I stared down at my puny, inadequate polar watch display, quickly covering my cracked iPhone with a sweaty towel (I still kicked this guys' ass in class.....he petered out by the third hill climb 20 minutes into class; "Damn your superior technology!"....have I mentioned I'm a little competitive?)

But I couldn't bear having to go through this technological humiliation again, so I buddied up to him afterwards.

"Hey dude, whatchya got going over there with your display?"

"Oh, this is the Digifit app. It synchs up my iPhone with my Polar Bluetooth HRM"

At this point the humiliation is almost total.....I have 4 Heart Rate Monitors, none of them are Bluetooth!

"Really? Bluetooth huh, and it just synchs up with your iPhone? What's that app again, Digi-what?"

"Digifit. It can synch up with all sorts of devices, but the Polar Bluetooth can synch with your iPhone 5 and the displays on most gym equipment"

Now I'm starting to feel physically ill....I thought about kicking his ass for real!

"iPhone 5 huh? Does it synch up with the 4 at all?"......Throw me a lifeline or something here!

"I don't think so, but you can check Polar's website"

"I think I will, thanks!"

I skulked back to the locker room, my head hanging down in shame as I desperately googled Polar's website on my pathetic excuse for a cell phone. Sure as hell, I'm one generation behind....a Neanderthal in a world of racy, hi-tech Cro-Magnon phones!

So that's that....can there really be any question as to what I must do next? Do I sit and suffer, pedaling away like some extinct ape as less physically capable hominids run circles around me with their technology? Remember, Neanderthals were physically much stronger than us, but we used brains and opposable thumbs to build the tools that drove them the way of the Dodo

It's settled next blog gets posted from a 4G LTE, iPhone 5!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FANGFACEKITTY 2/28/2013 3:37PM

    OK, I will help you feel better. My work cell phone is a Nokia C2. Tiny screen, no internet, no smart screen, no 3G let alone 4G, no e-mail, no apps, no nothin'. It does send & receive texts but you actually have to push real phone buttons repeatedly to get to the correct letter (and no handy complete the word for you feature).

It is so 20th century I am beyond humiliated when anyone sees it.

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HGSGUY 2/23/2013 2:01AM

    What is super cool is you can get the polar app and use your i5 and polar watch!

Have fun with it!

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HANSBRINK 2/22/2013 7:29PM

  Loved the blog. But it reminds me of the saying: The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

Enjoy the 4G LTE, iPhone 5!

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-DAVE- 2/22/2013 5:43PM

    Awesome narrative - I being a geek as well felt your pain just reading it.

Glad you got (are getting) your fix this weekend?????


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PMRUNNER 2/22/2013 9:43AM

    Still stuck with a dumb phone... Someday I will upgrade perhaps... Enjoy your new gadgetry!

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PLMITCH 2/22/2013 9:16AM

    I made the switch from Android (a Motorola Droid 2) to iPhone5 last month, and I am SOOOO glad I did. Obviously more up to date technology (4G LTE, etc), but I love how it works so seamlessly with my Mac and iPad! I have one of those sleek cases, though, which I like b/c I can just slide it into my front pocket, but wondering if I need to go to the Otterbox? Thankfully I do have an insurance plan in case of a drop...

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WOUBBIE 2/22/2013 9:12AM

    LOL! Great blog, but I just can't relate at all. I use a Tracfone. It makes phone calls and sends texts. I don't even have the number memorized. When I want my heart rate I press two fingers to the side of my neck.


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JECKIE 2/22/2013 8:36AM

    *snicker* I so know what you mean! I've been coveting the 5 since the day it came out... my 4 is in such great shape, though (despite having been dropped not once but TWICE off the treadmill) that it seems wrong to replace her.

I love gadgets, though! My new favorite is my Nike+ FuelBand. :)

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BILL60 2/22/2013 8:23AM

    Mine will be coming in December. BTW, have you checked out Training Peaks?? It contains oodles of data. I've been a member for 2+ years.

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BERGBA7 2/22/2013 3:17AM

    oh my God... this blog is hilarious and you make a great case for your new iPhone! No one can refuse you your new tool after such a blog. You are definitely a gifted story teller and advertiser...
I wish you a great, hopefully casual, Friday!

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    ...and then someone else will have phone envy when they look over and see yours (your new iPhone). emoticon emoticon

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BEATLETOT 2/21/2013 10:31PM

    You crack me up. I love this blog! Enjoy your new toy!

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BOBF15 2/21/2013 9:47PM

    How many Spark Points for envy?

Can you get an app for logging in the calories burned salivating over an iPhone?

You may be all set on those two.

Go get 'em tiger. emoticon

Great blog, loved it. emoticon

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    Awesome blog - I could sooooooo relate! And now ..... Oh, I just gotta get a 5 or I will die!!!

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Never take counsel of your fears!

Monday, February 18, 2013

So last week was a tough week....nothing really bad, but I was under the weather with some crazy rhino-virus that messed with my head. It wasn't enough to knock me out, but it slowed me down just enough to make simple things difficult. That and I just kept sneezing and blowing my nose all week.

I felt OK doing cardio, but skipped 2 days of ST mostly because my brain wasn't in it. I relaxed most of this weekend and took a leisurely bike ride Sunday.

Skipping 2 days of ST last week made going in to today's heavy legs & back day even tougher. I knew it was going to be a struggle....and I didn't feel like struggling....I was looking for a reason not to go, looking for reasons to ease up and not make it so tough. I wasn't sure I could push through it.

Well push I did and let me tell you....I probably had the best heavy legs & back day I have had in a long, long time!

I set a couple of PRs on squats & deadlifts (300 lbs on the deads!) and as for my arch-nemesis, pullups & chinups, I did 3 sets of 4 pullups (overhand grip), followed by 3 sets of 5 chin-ups (underhand grip)!

At the end of the day, I was still going pretty strong, but petering out a little. My Stasi trained trainer decided to end the day with bicep curls, but instead of going with heavy weights, he took a plate off for the last 2 sets and said, "just keep going to failure"

I really, really hate this guy when he says "just keep going to failure". When he says "just keep going to failure", there is no numerical goal to shoot for, there's no relief thinking that just one or 2 more reps will end the agony. No, there is just white hot pain as I pull and tighten and keep going until he says, "that's good you're done"

Yeah, he'll assist with the bar, providing some leverage to help me get past a stall, but I'll be damned if I'll stop before he makes the "that's good you're done" call. He's good, he knows his business. He'll provide just the bare minimum of assistance to keep the bar moving, but he won't let me slack off either. And somehow, his definition of muscle failure is always just 1 or 2 levels of pain higher than I think I can withstand.

And that is the biggest realization I have made about strength training.....yeah it can be tough, but our bodies are capable of much, much more than our minds can tolerate. It is a challenging exercise regimen, but the rewards are commensurate with the work. Today, I like what I see in the mirror before I get in the shower. I like walking by a mirror and realizing that I've got a flat belly without having to suck it in.

I am constantly amazed at the improvements I have made by not giving in just because I am tired or under strain. I realized again today to not fear the struggle, to accept it, to just keep going, and to trust that muscle pain is temporary even when my brain just wants it all to stop.

And I like to be able to end night's like tonight saying, "Man, that wasn't easy, but man was that worth it!"

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EGALITAIRE 2/22/2013 3:15PM

    When I am in a regular lifting routine - meaning same pattern for a number of weeks I have found I set new PR's when I take a week off about every 6 weeks. I come back stronger and with more energy.

Stay strong

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HANSBRINK 2/19/2013 9:09PM

  Nice blog! I'm a numerical person and usually stop when I reach my number. I'll have to keep the "Go Until Failure" thought in my mind during my next ST session.

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    wowsers.. way to push through a tough mental block. I am finding that my head will say "NO" but my body continues to say "YES" and get it done - as long as I don't let my head get in the way!


Wish I could find a way to turn off the head at times... maybe install an on/off switch? LOL

Great Job!


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VEEJAY3 2/19/2013 12:47PM

    So true that the brain gives up before the muscle does! I have a lazy lazy brain! haha
I love to come to your page and get a blast of sinew-y motivation. Love your attitude.

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BEATLETOT 2/19/2013 11:27AM

    You are awesome and always such an inspiration. Thanks for posting this!

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BILL60 2/19/2013 7:39AM

    Way to go. Now, if you could only lose weight like I, you would be a stud. Not to worry cause there's nothing wrong with second place. Hang tough, my friend.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 2/19/2013 4:36AM


I always tell myself "Go to the gym, you can leave after 10 minutes if you want to."

Takes all the pressure off and I have never taken myself up on the offer!

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¸.·*¨) ✫ ¸.·*¨)✫ Spread the Spark
(¸.·´ .·´ (¸.·´¸¸.·¨¯`·.✫

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BERGBA7 2/19/2013 3:01AM

    Yep! This is true for many things is life, not only heavy lifting. A tasks that one does not want to start but finishes off against all inner turmoil will be the most rewarding!
Hope you will feel better soon, though!

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HEALTHIERKEN 2/19/2013 12:16AM

    "And I like to be able to end night's like tonight saying, "Man, that wasn't easy, but man was that worth it!" "

Man, I gotta get me some of that attitude and then make sure I provide opportunity to use it. Slacker that I am, I talked myself out of exercise *again* today : (

I'm glad I read your blog, there's a couple of motivating quotes that I need to put on my wall.

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    Sounds like a great workout! I always find that the ones I go into kicking and screaming are the best ones. :)

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Humbled at the Valentine's Day Spin Class!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Well today I was humbled....then I got over it!

I've been fighting some cruddy rhino-virus since Monday night; it's been kicking my ass. Well today I decided to just go sweat it all off at the gym in one of my favorite lunchtime spin classes.

Our local gym is still suffering from the January effect....tons of people still packing in every class, packing the weight room, packing it in on the cardio machines. Yes I am happy so many want to be so just means I need to get there early for class and ask to work in a lot in the weight's a good thing, I get it.

Luckily, a buddy saved me a bike 'cause I was running late. I love the spin bikes in our gym, they are these very cool looking Keisers. They synch up to a heart rate monitor, they have great digital readouts of cadence and gear settings, and the fit on the bike is great.

I am used to specific gear settings for most of the workouts that curvilicious instructor gal puts us through, usually in the high double digit settings.

Well imagine my surprise when I start warming up to find that I'm struggling on settings of 5, 6, & 7! I am working like a dog to keep a 70-80 cadence at a setting of 10! I am normally cooling down on a 10!

I figure this friggin rhino-virus has stolen all my mojo, because my heart rate is up at normal 80-95% levels at these settings.

I feel like a wuss!

But I plod along, hoping none of the regulars steal glances at my girly-man settings, because I am giving it all I've got at settings I think should be for used for first time spinners.

Add to that, curvilicious instructor is hitting my all time favorite tunes and I'm keeping up, but wondering if I've lost all my credibility with my peers.

Anyway, I had a great workout. And that's why I like wearing a HRM because my heart rate was up exactly where I wanted it the whole time, even approaching my max.

So I finish up, shoot the breeze with a few folks, shower, change, and go back to the office. My twenty-something front office assistant, who was also in the class, is chowing down a big salad. As I walk by him I say, "Well that was a pretty good class, glad I went. I'm finally getting over this dumb cold, but I think I sweated off the worst of it."

"Yeah," he says. "It was great and I was working my ass off....and I got stuck with one of those cruddy bikes, the ones that have the readings all jacked up. I was on settings of 4, 5, & 6 almost the whole time"

"You're shi**ing me! There are broken bikes in there?!?! I was kicking my own ass for being a wuss. I barely moved the dial above 8!"

"Yeah," he says. "Some of the bikes are notoriously bad on the calibration. You didn't know that?"

"Listen to my voice, monkey boy, does it sound like I knew that?!"

He looked down and just stared at his salad.

"It's all good'" I told him. "Thanks for saving me the bike"

So yet another reason not to get too hung up on numbers....which for me is a tough thing because I am a numbers geek. I say I don't care about the numbers on the scale, but I sort of do. I say it's not important how much weight I can squat, but it's really pretty cool to see the numbers go up. I say I don't care about the settings on the bike.....wait a minute, I never said that, HELL YES I CARE.

So next time I go into class with a big red permanent marker.....and put a big X on any bike that's badly calibrated!

Have a great night Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VEEJAY3 2/16/2013 1:37PM

    What a great writer you are! I'm gonna have to go back now and read your past blogs, and probably add you as a friend so I'm prompted whenever you write something new.

This reminded me of going to spin class with my daughter, years ago, when she'd returned to Denver from college in California. She was struggling, and winded, and kept looking over at me to see if I was suffering like she was. "I don't know what's the matter!" she lamented. "I usually KILL spin class!" Well, it wasn't until a few hours later that we realized .... ALTITUDE! She had grown used to living at sea level, and here at a Mile High, it's a whole different lung game. haha She's a Type-A high achiever (as it sounds you are), and it killed her not to meet her usual high standards.

You overachievers! haha

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BERGBA7 2/15/2013 3:01AM

Great, real life story! And great story telling!
Get well soon and good luck getting a good bike next time!

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PINKNFITCARLA 2/14/2013 11:22PM

    Well, at least you found out it was the bike and not you! I hope you get well and feel better soon.

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WOUBBIE 2/14/2013 10:36PM

    In World of Warcraft and other online games you would be such an Achievement Junkie. "I KNOW it's not really important to gain reputation with the Timbermaw Clan but there's this Achievement....!!!!"

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    LOL! You're making me laugh because I'm exactly like that too! If I forget my Fitbit, I'm like a lost puppy. How do I know how many steps I did today? How am I supposed to know how many floors I climbed today? I'm not getting credit for this! Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone!

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