Thursday, March 09, 2006

Body Odor, Bad Magazines, TV and the Gym Monster

Yesterday it snowed. The wind blew over the town of Durango and it felt like the cold was moving through my body. It wasn’t a comfortable time to be outdoors – not that I’m all about comfort. I felt like getting in some quality gym time, which means that I would be in for the warm body odor smell of the Durango Community Recreation Center.

I’m not the gym type, unless there is something really good on TV. Basically, my gym pursuit revolves around the cardio theatre system. A mixture of TV’s with channels showcasing everything from the news to Designing Women. The sound fills my headphones, as I dance from stair steeper to rowing machine. Because I don’t have a TV, I use the community’s. Last night, at the gym, as I walked up the stairs to the cardio area, I pondered about the mixture of information and entertainment I would receive. I was excited. However, something struck me. What if I used this time to test out some of the machines in a more scientific fashion? Would I be able to actually add some intensity to my workout? Would I forgo a lazy spin on the recumbent bike and 30-minutes of quality TV time?

I decided to sacrifice. I would make a valiant effort to maximize my heart rate. I would TRY to drop the TV time and concentrate on working out. Below is a run down of the machines and how I think they faired. I believe that a gym workout can be one of the most difficult in all of training. Read on my fellow gym user and you’ll find my opinion on what burns the fat.

Rowing Machine:

OK, this thing is strange. I walk up to a piece of equipment that looks like it belongs in a manufacturing center. Since when does exercise involve cooling the other members of the gym via fan and fan belt? I decided to give it a try. After a few rows the concept of the machine came to light: grab handlebar, strap feet in stirrups and pull backwards. After two minutes of rowing, I was hooked. The machine turned into much more than I thought it would. I started doing intervals. I started to breath heavily. I started to wonder is the summer Olympics a possibility for me? Ten minutes, then 20 minutes passed. I pushed harder and harder. Then I remembered my goal: to give my readers a sense of all the machines.

Rowing Machine Rating:

A: full body workout

A: Interest factor

D: Cool technology factor (no headphone jack)

Stair Stepper:

After cleaning off my sweat, I moved to the Stair Stepper. These machines are ubiquitous. Every gym seems to have at least three of these leg-busting machines. I started the climbing machine and glee swept across my face. It was here, on this machine, where I was able to plug in my headphones. CNN poured through my brain. Then ESPN; then the Albuquerque news, which was followed by a short stint on some stupid movie, in other words, I became absorbed. I slapped myself and remembered the goal: train. I pushed it to the max on the Stair Stepper. My heart rate, I could actually read it on the machine, jumped to 140 bpm. Next, through fault of my own, my little red blood cell pumper hit the 170 bpm mark. I watched screen light up with little red dots. They detailed my speed and such.

Stair Stepper Rating:

C: Full body workout

A: Interest factor (headphone, yeah!)

B: Coolness factor (heart rate monitor system)


My final exercise machine to test was the hand-thing. I have no earthly idea what this thing was called. I assume it serves a greater purpose than the whimsical testing of a born again gym goer. I decided to saddle up and start turning. The machine is basically a treadmill for arms. One grabs the handles, which are situated on the outside of a weight loading apparatus. I set the resistance to medium and began to turn. Each rotation was easy enough. I decided to add a little more speed. After five minutes of sitting in a chair and turning my arms in circles, I felt weird. I wasn’t getting the workout I wanted. I added more weight. OK, at this point, things got a little more challenging. I started adding more and more resistance. I turned this innocent machine into a masculine pursuit of “who can turn the most weight around in a circle”. I started breathing heavily. I’m sure people looked at me. They must have thought, oh, he’s just trying to show off.

Hand-Thing Rating:

D: Full body workout

C: Interest factor

B: Coolness factor (you are working out your arms, in circles)

I’m sure I missed some machines that you enjoy, or hate with all that his holy. Write a comment about your experience at the gym. I’ll post it here on Chain Ring Action. If you have a picture, I’ll post that too.


Lauren said...

You have not accomplished the stair master unless you do one that has the actual stair steps rotating. 10 minutes and you will be toast.

walkert said...


Can you tell us more about your 10-minutes of toast?