Not Embarrassed

The warm-up at The Pit boxing gym is pretty intense:

  • Jumping Jacks x 30
  • Body Squats x 30
  • Arms out rotation x 50
  • Arms front rotation x 50
  • Chain breakers x 30
  • Close grip push-ups x 25
  • Reg grip push-ups x 25
  • Wide grip push-ups x 25
  • Burpee x 20

I went for my first session two weeks ago, got maybe 1/5 through the warmup, and had to lie down on the cold concrete floor because I was so dizzy. Something about all that plus going up and down for burpees gave me vertigo, and I was out of the action for probably 20 minutes.

I should have been mortified. Here I was, with a group of about a dozen guys and a twelve year old girl, who all went through the entire warm-up in half the time I only managed a fraction of it, and I was laid out on the ground. Fifteen years ago, I’d have wanted to hide my face for weeks, or crawl in a hole and die. But I didn’t find embarrassment, or not too much. Rather, lying on the ground after doing just a portion of the warm-up, I found motivation.

Everyone at The Pit is incredibly nice, non-judgmental, and inclusive. There were no sneers or judging glances at me, though several people checked to make sure I was OK. Their tone wasn’t derogatory in any way though. Later, one young man told me that he was puking the first two months at the gym, and I at least hadn’t done that. Boxing is generally a solo sport, but there’s a strong team atmosphere there, which is to the credit of the coach, Will Grover.

As it turns out, my dizziness was probably due to illness. The day after going to the gym, I came down with a wicked cold, and I didn’t leave the house for six days because I felt so bad. Then we traveled to Wisconsin and I missed a couple more workouts. But last night, I went back for my second session, and I completed the warm-up and never got dizzy.

Getting there almost 40 minutes early to give myself time to stretch and go slowly through it helped a lot. We do a warm-up, then a bunch of different boxing exercises, then a work-out that’s 2-3 times more intense than that warm-up. Newbies like me are only obligated to do half of the work-out, and I only managed about half of that, or a quarter what everyone else did. And again, they did it in a fraction of the time.

But I completed the warm-up. I did more last night than I did two weeks ago. The way I see it, I show up 2-3 times a week, do what they tell me for two hours, and I’ll get in better shape. And I really need it. I need to get my health under control. Since I started working at home, the pounds have been piling on, and it… “scares” might be too strong, but it does kind of scare me. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be one of those IT guys who just gets more and more round and waddles around and has high cholesterol and heart problems in his 40s. Working out for two hours, three times a week, is a huge sacrifice of time for me, and it has already meant missing out on social activities I’d like to be part of. But I’ve got to get this health thing re-aligned.

I’m not embarrassed. Part of me feels like I ought to be, but internally, I look at that and think, “Let that embarrassment fuel harder work. Do better. Be better.” And that’s not hard, because I’m not on my own. I go to the gym and have a group of people who are going through the exact same thing, and they model it for me. I have people encouraging me, and guiding me, and correcting me, and telling me that I’m going to get there.

Two more weeks from now, I want to be able to complete the work-out. Maybe not quickly, but I’ll get there.

The best thing about Starting Strength

A few weeks ago, I developed terrible pain in my left shoulder. I don’t know what brought it on, but the muscles tensed up so hard that it hurt as badly as when I broke my collarbone in 2008. Wondering at the cause, I searched online for chronic muscle tension, because this isn’t the first time my shoulders have hurt like this, just the worst it has ever been, and I discovered that this sort of tension is common for people like me who sit at a computer all day. The best remedy is exercise.

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Fitness Goals

When I graduated high school, I weighed 165 pounds. I was working at the hospital in food service, carrying heavy pans around. I’d been doing debate for years, carrying heavy debate tubs around. I was in decent shape.

After my freshman year of college, I weighed 195 pounds. I had gained 30 pounds, but I was OK with that. I was pretty sure I’d been underweight and a little malnourished in high school, and the gain in weight was largely due to eating a regular number of meals a day. I stayed at this weight through most of college.

After my first year at my current job, I weighed 215 pounds. I had gained 20 pounds in a year because my job now consisted of sitting at a computer, all day, every day. Throughout college, I had been a student worker, which meant running all over campus to fix stuff. Now, though, I did research and writing and other such things, all in my comfy office chair.

I started going to a gym, at which point I weighed around 225 pounds. I lost 18, down to 207 pounds, and felt really proud of that. Then I stopped going. That was ten months ago.

I have now rejoined the gym. I weigh 233 pounds. My goal is to lose 53 pounds by the end of next May. I’d also like to strengthen my arms (I used to carry 120 pounds around regularly, now 30-65 pounds give me trouble over anything other than short distances) and improve my flexibility (I studied martial arts when I was young, and have lost a significant amount of flexibility since I stopped down that in junior high).

I’m meeting with a trainer on Thursday to discuss these goals and plan out how I can best reach them. In addition to attending the gym 5-6 days a week, we bike most days to work. Not sure how that’ll fare during the winter, but at least I’ll continue to have the gym when it gets bitterly cold.

What one man can do, another man can do.