The Joy Of Gym Showers

So I have a whole new respect for those people who work out at a gym, shower and then head to work. I recently had the displeasure of experiencing this life altering encounter when I started swimming for the triathlon that I am participating in- in a few weeks. My painstaking preparation the night before should have been a harbinger of things to come.  After packing four bags for the gym, I was physically and mentally exhausted.

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My regular gym bag was filled with my work clothes, work shoes and assorted gym paraphernalia. Being a very low maintenance girl, I packed minimal clothing to get me through the work day- no jewelry, no accessories. My swim bag was stuffed with two towels, one for after the pool and one for after the shower. That bag also contained various Ziploc bags so that I would be super organized after my swim; one bag for my goggles and swim cap; one bag for my make-up; one bag for my face moisturizer and deodorant and one bag clearly marked, “shower flip-flops.” Another small bag contained a shirt and shorts to wear after the shower and plastic bags to put my wet towels and bathing suit. I also had my pocketbook. Low maintenance still requires a great deal of work.

Stuffing my bags into a narrow locker, I broke a fingernail and scraped two knuckles. I don’t need a locker- I need a cabana. Why don’t they have cabanas here? How about at least a double locker for all my crap? I can’t be the only one who feels this way. What’s going to happen in the winter. How the heck will I get my winter coat and snow boots into this puny locker?

The one mile swim went well and once out of the pool, I felt relieved and confident. Other then the chlorine stinging my bloody knuckles, I felt elated. Until the shower…..

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I’m very laid back when it comes to most things. I love camping. Okay, I’ve only been camping once…….on the grounds of a mansion……for one night. It was a fundraiser. But that’s beside the point. I would go camping again. I just haven’t had the opportunity. Really.

Low monthly fee should not mean low standards. A reasonably priced gym does not mean that I should be subjected to sub-humane showering facilities. When I say that the shower curtain was moldy, I am being kind. When I say that the cracked tile was prevalent, I am not exaggerating. When I say that it was one of the filthiest places I’ve ever showered, I am being generous.

Hesitantly, I hang my towel on the hook outside the shower curtain but still inside my shower stall. I line up my all-in-one body wash/shampoo bottle and my conditioner on the slanted bench underneath my hanging towel. I quickly turn on the water. After I say a thankful prayer that the water is hot, I lather up like I’m anticipating a fire drill. I hurriedly take the rubber band out of my hair and there it goes. The hair band springs out of my hand, onto the dirty, cracked tile floor. I can’t help but stare as it circles the drain. Oh well, I rationalize that there is a reason that hair bands are sold 10 in a pack at the Dollar Store.

As I put the body wash/shampoo bottle down on the slanted shelf, by accident, my right arm swipes the moldy shower curtain. I let out a shrill as if giant cockroaches have just been let loose on me.  With one eye watching the sliding conditioner bottle, I quickly rewash the part of my arm that graced the shower curtain.  I thanked the powers that be that I was wearing my shower flip flops.  As I grab the conditioner bottle, the body wash/shampoo bottle falls on the putrid floor and yes, my knee brushed against the shower curtain.  I shrieked again, quickly washed off my knee and the body wash/shampoo bottle and seriously thought about throwing away these shower flip flops after this experience. After all, they were a bargain at the Dollar Store.  No, I can’t buy new shower flip flops every time I shower at the gym. They’re not disposable. Now there’s an idea. Disposable shower flip flops- 10 in a pack. I may be onto something. Thank goodness I made sure to label the shower flip flop bag.

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As I quickly conditioned my hair, I realized that if they sell shower curtains at the Dollar Store, I’ll buy one and bring my own shower curtain tomorrow.  The amount of time I am spending trying to evade the shower curtain is ridiculous. I’m like a contortionist, trying to catch the sliding body wash/shampoo and conditioner bottles while playing keep away with the moldy shower curtain. It’s a very special dance that I’m doing here.

With the shower experience taking much longer than anticipated, I had little time to blow dry my hair, put-on minimal makeup and get dressed.  In my shorts, shirt and shower flip flops, I quickly blew dry my hair. In my haste, the little clip in my hair, flew into the air and bounced along the bathroom floor. In slow motion, I watched the hair clip roll into a puddle of water that originated from a nondescript brown stain on the ceiling, just slightly above me. Ugh- back to the Dollar Store.

All dressed, I changed into my work shoes and stuffed my shower flip flops into their plastic bag. I then tossed my hair brush, body wash/shampoo and conditioner into the last plastic bag. I sealed the bag shut and as I turned it over to put into my gym bag, I saw it. In clearly marked letters were the words I wrote last night, “shower flip flops.” Back to the Dollar Store….

 

 

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What Is Cross Training And Why Is It Necessary?

A few years ago, I was running 4-5 miles a day, four times a week, and I thought I was in pretty good shape. Then I started training for a triathlon and started swimming laps in a pool. After just one lap, I was shocked to find myself out of breath, huffing and puffing as if I never worked out a day in my life. I was wrong to think that fitness means mastering a single sport. According to Todd Schlifstein, DO, a sports medicine rehabilitation doctor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute, “When you only do one fitness activity- like running or weight lifting, for example- and you only work on the muscles involved in that sport, you may discover that you are far less fit than you think.”

Cross-training refers to combining exercises of other disciplines, different than how the athlete regularly trains. For instance, if a runner wants to cross-train, they may bike, swim, strength train or take a fitness class. Cross-training builds strength and flexibility that is not being utilized when the athlete always does that one sport or discipline. By correcting muscular imbalances, it prevents injury and the variety can prevent burnout. Schlifstein warns that “using one set of muscles repeatedly can also increase your risk of repetitive injury.”

So how do you incorporate cross-training into your fitness routine? If you do not usually swim- try it out. Swimming helps build strength, flexibility and fitness, all without risking injury.  Runners looking to cross-train should strengthen their pelvis, hips and upper body- try elliptical machines, stationary bikes or swimming. If you have been only weight lifting- you should add a cardio workout- like running outside or on a treadmill, rowing.

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You can incorporate cross-training by alternating between activities; one day lift weights, next day bike, next day run, then elliptical machine, rowing machine. Or you can alternate activities in a single workout; run on treadmill for 10 minutes, bike for 10 minutes, pushups for 10 minutes, elliptical machine for 10 minutes.

My 19 year old daughter had become a slave to the elliptical machine, crossing the fine line between loving and hating it at the same time. When the elliptical machine in our home gym broke and was awaiting repair, she was forced to use the exercise bike and she started running on the treadmill. It was the best thing for her, because although I had been stressing the benefits of cross-training, she refused to try another activity until she had no choice. My daughter had not realized how bored she had become with the elliptical machine and now incorporates all three machines into her workout.

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Cross-training stresses the importance of varying activities between aerobic conditioning, strength training, endurance and balance. For fun and a bit of variety- try cycling, yoga, hiking, jogging, rock climbing, skiing, pilates. To spice up my own fitness routine, I started the 100 burpee challenge on January 1st. Day 1 I did 1 burpee, day 2- I did 2 burpees, etc. until day 100. If I skip a day, I have to add the burpees from the day I skipped. If I do 9 burpees and I skip the next day, then the following day I have to do 10 burpees plus 11 burpees. If you do not know what a burpee is- google it- it is easier to watch than for me to explain.

I want to share an inspiring new project started by Gwyneth Paltrow and fitness guru, Tracy Anderson called, “The Restart Project.”  It consists of approximately six minute video segments focused on women who have overcome hardship, injury and setbacks and have triumphed in the face of adversity. The first few videos I’ve seen depicted women who have transformed their lives and bodies through diet and exercise. These uplifting and motivating stories are definitely worth watching at http://on.aol.com/show/the-restart-project-518018512/episode/51804516#sthash.P2yzR4U.dpuf