Category Archives: Uncategorized

Workout Journal, 1/13/12: The Case of the Missing Trainer

January 13, 2012 | By Adam Roberts | 722 Comments

There’s a theory circling among my friends that the reason I stopped writing my workout journal is that I stopped working out. Not true! In fact, since November 1st, with two major exceptions (my trip to Florida for Thanksgiving and my trip to Bellingham for Christmas), I’ve been working out five days a week, never missing a single day.

Why did I stop journaling? At the beginning, it was all so new and novel that I had a lot to say after each and every workout. But as time marched on, I didn’t have as much to say. I started journaling about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Or Orange County (it’s hard to tell them apart). The workout journal lost its mojo but I was still going to the gym; so I stopped writing it. But I never stopped going.

Except this week I experienced a major setback, which is why I’m workout journaling now.

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The Books That I Read in 2011

December 31, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 511 Comments

Just Kids by Patti Smith. Convalescing from the flu, I read this book in a sweaty, feverish trance, which–it turns out–is entirely appropriate for this painfully honest text about Smith’s early years in New York City with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith proves that a steady accretion of deceptively simple sentences can yield a text as sweeping and powerful as the most ambitious novel. What I admired most about this book was its clarity: Smith sees things with such penetrating depth, I almost melted when, a few weeks after finishing this book, I found her staring me in the face at a table catty-corner to mine at ‘ino. And yet, despite her power to intimidate, its her disarming warmth (which I witnessed in person when she kindly took pictures with a table of Italian tourists) that makes this book so complex. At her core, Smith is a sweetheart: a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

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Workout Journal, Days 17, 18, 19, 20 & 21 (Sorry, I’ve been busy.)

November 29, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 178 Comments

Hello there loyal workout journal fans! You probably thought I gave up over Thanksgiving, that I skipped the gym and gorged on turkey and puffed myself up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade float.

No sirree! I arrived in Florida on Tuesday night and so that day was a loss–travel & the time change made exercise impossible. But on Wednesday, after our trip to West Palm Beach, mom dropped me at the gym and I did a circuit and the elliptical workout. Then on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself, I still went to the gym (with my brother) and did 40 minutes of cardio (walking/running 3 miles total). On Friday, I went to a different gym (near the beach where we went later in the day) and had trouble finding the machines I needed–so did some sit-up stuff and then did another treadmill routine.

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Workout Journal, Day 16 (My calf muscles are like meat.)

November 21, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 614 Comments

On the elliptical machine today I had this thought: my calf muscles are like meat. A tough cut of meat that you have to braise in order to soften up; so when I get on the elliptical it’s all hard and miserable and can’t-cut-through-it tough to move my legs. But by the end my legs are all limber and soft and pliable—you just have to cook them for 20 minutes while watching Tabitha’s Hair Salon on the big communal TV.

Now it’s off to Florida tomorrow and there’s no way I’ll be able to exercise because it’s 3 hours later there and I’m not getting in until nighttime. But Wednesday, you watch me, I’m going to the gym come hell or high water!

Workout Journal, Day 15 (Not thinking about it.)

November 18, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 412 Comments

There are certain things in life that are worth thinking about: where to go to college. What to do for your career. Where to go for dinner after going to the gym for the third straight week (that’s my big question of the night!)

One thing that’s not worth thinking about, though is, exercising while you’re exercising. Here’s what I mean. When I’m on the elliptical swinging my legs back and forth like crazy, if I think: “This is minute 13! If I keep pushing really hard and stay within the 130 to 140 strides per minute zone, I’ll only have 3 more minutes of high-intensity leg swinging and then I can relax.” That line of thinking is dangerous because it makes exercise a thing to endure instead of a thing that you just do.

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Workout Journal, Day 14 (Forcing yourself, being forced)

November 17, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 3,789 Comments

The treadmill offers one major advantage over the elliptical: it forces you to run.

Today, while trotting along at speed 8 for an additional minute (that’s 8 miles per hour) it occurred to me: “I have no choice but to run or I will fall and die.”

That’s an entirely different experience than the experience of the elliptical where I’m supposed to keep my stride between 130 and 140 at resistance 25 and between 110 and 120 at resistance 50. In the latter case, nothing’s forcing me to do that. Sometimes I get a burst of energy and overshoot the mark, shuffling along at 145 when when 135 would suffice. Most of the time I slip into a lower number and nothing’s there forcing me along.

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Workout Journal, Day 13 (Pretty people gyms vs. Normal people gyms.)

November 16, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 739 Comments

In the world of gyms, there are basically two choices: a pretty person gym or a normal person gym.

Allow me to explain. When I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I joined a Normal Person Gym. This gym was populated by old Italian women in sweatsuits and headbands, middle-aged school teachers and the occasional young person who may or may not have been attractive. My thought about joining this gym was: “If I go to this gym, there will be no pressure to look hot. I can just sweat and gasp for air and turn red and no one will care. We’re all just normal people.”

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Workout Journal, Day 12 (Tectonic plates.)

November 15, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 409 Comments

I’m not a geologist, but I’m pretty sure that mountains are formed slowly. And that’s how I’m trying to think about my gym-going. It’s ridiculous to expect big results quickly; just like you wouldn’t expect a mountain to pop up because one plate is pressing up against another plate. That takes time.

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Workout Journal, Day 11 (Almost didn’t write this.)

November 15, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 412 Comments

Are we done with these workout journals?

Let’s think for a moment. On the one hand, if I force myself to write a journal about every day that I work out, it makes it seem like this is just an experiment, a temporary stint, instead of a new lifestyle. Because if I really do stick to this routine–5 days a week at the gym–it shouldn’t be so novel that every day deserves a post.

On the other hand, based on my track record, I need all the reinforcement I can get. Writing these journals forces me to account for every day at the gym; so maybe we should choose an arbitrary number–50?–wherein if I reach Workout Journal #50 I’m allowed to no longer write workout journals because at that point I’ll be a real true-to-life gym-goer. Deal? Deal.

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Workout Journal, Day 10 (Why it’s good to have a trainer.)

November 11, 2011 | By Adam Roberts | 426 Comments

On Wednesday, by myself, I tried to do 36 push-ups. Not all at once; they were part of a circuit that I was supposed to do three times, 12 push-ups each round. And by myself, I struggled, I quivered, I fell. Today, though, it was my 3rd session with my trainer Danny and he had me do a different version of a push-up (a traditional push-up mixed with a leg pump in and out for each leg). With Danny standing there watching, I did all 36 push-ups. (Actually it was 12 the first round and 8 each additional round so 28 push-ups total). The point is that having Danny there made me more self-conscious, more accountable, more willing to do the hard work to finish those push-ups. Which is one reason it’s good to have a trainer.

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