Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I'd grasped the nettle and asked for a reassessment at the gym. I wanted to be shown how to do some weights (I think this is what's called strength training on SP. Down my local gym it's called 'doing weights' ) which is not of course all about weights, it's about pulling and pushing things with levers and so on.
Well, I don't know who was more surprised, me or the trainer. I'd guess he sees a fair number of large economy-sized people, and takes their assessment of their own fitness with a pinch of salt. The first thing he said was 'cardio' and I said, 'no, weights as well, I want to reduce my bingo wings and my gut and I've just done half an hour of cardio,' which I had, while I was waiting for him to finish with his previous victim. I mean customer. A good workout, I was breathless and sweaty etc, as you should be. He said 'well ok, let's look at your cardio first.' And I said 'Right, bear in mind I'm 51, and also I've been ill recently and been on holiday so I haven't been here for ages. I've just done half an hour's cardio (in case he'd forgotten I'd said so). My only recent exercise has been getting lost in Epping Forest to the extent of 9 or 10 miles.'
'Nine or ten miles?' sez he, looking surprised.
'Yep,' I replied, 'bit over four hours' walking. I don't go fast, but I've improved from four miles to ten in three months.'
So I got on the treadmill and he insisted on starting me at 'warmup' pace. I actually can't walk that slowly and kept chesting the controls. Painful. He quickened it up a bit, and I pointed out that with balance as dodgy as mine, I find it better to increase the incline. He put the incline up a notch, and the speed up several notches.
So there I was, walking at 5.5 kph which was faster than I've ever walked on a treadmill before, and watching my heart rate climb. And then slow back down again. And the trainer pushed the buttons up to 6 kph, and my heart rate climbed up and then slowed back down again.
By now I'd been going for ten minutes and you wouldn't have wanted to have been downwind of me. The aircon over my head set off suddenly and I'm sure I had managed to trigger it on my own.
Then the trainer pushed the speed up to 6.2 and my heart rate went up and hovered for a bit and came back down again. He pushed it up to 6.3 (this is 4 mph) for one final minute. At 15 minutes altogether, I pressed stop. I draped myself elegantly over the rail and said, 'was that more than you thought I could do?'
'Way more,' said he.
'I'm gobsmacked,' I said. 'All those long walks must have made a difference and I didn't realise it.'
After that trying out some weights was a bit of an anticlimax.
I've just done a thorough workout tonight. Didn't go quite as fast on the treadmill but I upped the speed for longer. Couldn't get near the weights for large sweaty blokes.
But there we are. Two important lessons:
Don't overlook the importance of building up your stamina with apparently 'easy' exercise.
And sometimes it helps to have someone show you that you're a lot fitter than you think you are.
He wants to reassess me AGAIN in two weeks' time.