I decided to join a gym when I arrived here, as it seemed sensible to find something constructive to do with my plentiful free time. It has been interesting to see the differences between the gym I use here and the one back in the UK. The classes are, of course, pretty similar (there are only so many variations of the same exercises after all) although just named differently. Chisel is my current favourite, which is a mix of step & Body Pump and gives an all-round good toning class with a little cardio. I’ve also been doing Spin, which has both advantages and disadvantages over the RPM that I used to do in the UK. RPM is highly choreographed, with eight specific tracks in a class that is done for ten weeks until a new eight tracks are introduced. This means that you really get to measure your progress, although for me and my short attention span it gets really boring and predictable after about week three, which makes it a lot harder to keep going. Spin, certainly in the gym I’m now attending, is different every single week, with seemingly random tracks each week and also with a different teacher for nearly every class. This keeps things fresh and interesting but you can’t really challenge yourself or measure how well you are doing. RPM seems more varied, with specific tracks for speed or for hills, whereas Spin has a lot of tracks where you just go Stand Up, Sit Down, Stand Up, Sit Down every couple of seconds…. probably very good for the thigh muscles but really uncomfortable and annoying. The best thing about Spin, for me, is the music. Actually this goes for all the classes in my new gym. They have realised that you can work out to guitar-based music instead of that bang-bang-dance-noise-stuff that invades all exercise classes in the UK. The other day in one Spin class we had Mumford & Sons, the Beatles and Metallica. I can tell you, it’s so much easier to race really fast to a song that you really enjoy (in this case, “Enter Sandman”). Far nicer than the old RPM track 5 that sounded like a blender.
The weird thing about the gym here is their unwillingness to put on the air-con or even the fans half the time. Given the fact that it was regularly around 35C and really humid in July/August, this seems madness. It did probably mean that I sweated out a lot more lard and toxins than I might otherwise have done, I suppose.
The weights in the gym are all measured in pounds rather than the kilos that we used in the UK. I can’t always convert the measurements very well in my head, so I have no idea half the time whether I’m tricking myself into using heavier weights or whether I’m cheating myself. It sounds a lot more impressive to be using a 10lb weight than a 4.5kg one though.
I’m pleased to say that this gym malarkey is paying off. In the last six weeks or so I have lost 4 pounds and, more importantly for me, around 3% of body fat. As a vegetarian it’s quite hard to eat interesting food that isn’t laced in sauces or cheese etc, as you can’t just have a plain grilled piece of meat or fish etc. My body fat has gone from the low end of “Poor” to the low end of “Fair”. Yippee! I don’t think the improvements are just due to the gym. I’m also using Frankie the Bike to get around as much as I can, plus I’m no longer chained to a desk from 9-5. This means I don’t sit and eat out of boredom, I don’t have to eat at midday whether I’m hungry or not just because that’s my designated lunch hour, and I can generally keep moving around instead of being stuck in a chair for 8 hours. I may need to get a job as a cycle courier when I get back to the UK.