Saturday, January 09, 2010

Failed resolutions

New Years Eve and it's hard to believe, another Zodiac's gone around
While you drank yourself high on hoping, and watched the ceiling spin from the ground

Counting down from ten it's time, to make your annual prayer
Secret Santa in the sky, when will I get my share

Then you tell yourself, what you want to hear
Cause you have to believe, this will be my year

[From Semisonic’s “This Will Be My Year,” from the album, Feeling Strangely Fine]

Planet Fitness has been running a special in January where new members can join for $1. This promotion intersects perfectly with the New Year’s resolution mindset that characterizes the crowd making a few feel good changes early in 2010. Most of these will be gone by the wayside come the first of February, casualties of their noble intentions that didn’t count the costs associated, or understand what it takes to be successful.

How do I know this? Because New Year’s resolutions are the crutches that I used to try to prop up my own pathetic attempts to make changes each and every roll over of the calendar, or as Dan Wilson of Semisonic sang, “another Zodiac's gone around.”

I’ve been a regular at Planet Fitness since the first of November. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to moving my fitness activities indoors in late October, but the days were shortening, and I knew my cycling was coming to a close for 2009. With resignation, I reluctantly began searching for a gym to continue the level of physical activity I knew I would need to engage in if I wanted to stay fit, and keep my newfound slimness intact.

The word on the street was that the Auburn PF location was a good one, and for the past 10 weeks, I’ve been working out like clockwork, three times each week. Given the demands of life and work, I knew early mornings would be best for me, although I did experiment with some other options, like lunchtimes, and mid-afternoons.

Since the Auburn location opens at 5:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, that’s the time I shoot for as I’ve become locked into showing up each Tuesday and Thursday, and am able to get in an hour of cardio and an hour of weights. Then, Sunday morning, I’m there at 7:00, when they open. I wish they were open earlier, as I’d love to be able to keep with my 5:00 a.m. time slot I have during the work week.

One of the benefits of these early morning workouts is that the group that is able to roll out of the sack at this early hour tends to be a bit older, and is mostly made up with the kinds of gym members that have been working out for a long time. What this means for me is that this crowd has a similar mindset as I do—get in, get busy, and get out. As a result, I’m actually enjoying my early morning chances to huff, puff, sweat, and push some weights around.

This past week has been a bit of a challenge, however. Tuesday morning, when I arrived a bit late, at 5:15, I could see the parking lot was already quite full. Entering the well-lit gym, most of the cardio equipment, particularly the treadmills, was being utilized. I figured that many of these were enticed by the $1 offer to get fit, as I didn’t recognize them as regulars.

My wife, who works out at Coastal Fitness in Westbrook has been complaining all week that she’s had trouble getting on the cardio equipment because of the flood of new members who have shown up. I imagine that if I went in the PM to PF in Auburn, I’d run into the same kind of cattle call.

An early morning appointment in Fairfield prevented me from keeping my customary morning fitness appointment this past Thursday, so I went yesterday morning instead. The gym was virtually deserted when I jumped on the elliptical trainer at 5:10. By 5:30, there were 15-20 people working out. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew that most of the $1 set would be gone by early February, but after one week? So much for sticking with those New Year’s fitness plans.

I found it somewhat comical watching two rather large women who I guessed were two of the 100 new members who have been joining daily in Auburn. Apparently by Friday none but these two were motivated enough to get up early on a bitterly cold morning to sweat off some fat. While these ladies were at the gym, they weren’t doing much to raise their heart rate and burn calories. In fact, when I walked by the wall of exercise equipment near the locker rooms, they were lounging on the back equipment, doing nothing but talking. After working working their gums, they made their way to the arc trainers where they spent about 15 minutes and barely broke a sweat. Then, after another 10 minutes on the treadmill, both were out the door, just as I was readying to hit the weights after my 30 minute cardio warm up.

I’m betting that they felt good about burning their 250 calories each, and probably both treated themselves to a carbo death wheel, aka, a bagel, surely loaded with cream cheese and some high calorie coffee drink with whip cream.

Since I began coming to Planet Fitness, there has been a group of men, some my age, a few older, and one younger gentleman that lift a lot of weights each morning when I’m there Monday-Friday. I can tell by the amount of weight they lift, their demeanor, and their upper bodies that these guys are serious. They have become a fitness comfort blanket of sorts for me.

Interestingly, I haven’t seen them since just after Christmas. I’m thinking that they’ve taken a sabbatical until after the fitness wannabes clear out.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Lifestyle changes do, however, which is why I’m down 51 pounds, and have been maintaining my weight loss for the past six weeks. It’s based on a simple formula. Reduce calories, increase calories burned, by increasing my level of activity intensity, and stay consistent with my commitment.

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