Maybe a home gym?

NordicTrack or Kettler?

Go green, minimalist and walk, use the community center or the local health walk way? Join a gym?

It's been 6 1/2 weeks since I decided to change my exercise and eating habits and I'm still on the wagon. I started this odyssey because I wanted to improve my mobility and reduce health risk factors.

Oh, that is so much BS. In a word, I'm doing this for credibility. We live in a superficial world and the world judges overweight people as less capable than thin people. It's not fair. It's not accurate, but it is what it is. Luckily what I'm doing is working, but I'd like to head off hitting a plateau and so, I'm looking at ramping up my exercise plans.  


I mentioned I am overweight, right? So, I have to be realistic. I started off with walking and I do 3 miles in 45 minutes 3-6 times a week. It's the rainy season in South Florida. I'm getting rained out regularly. Walking in the rain in 84 degrees wearing my House of Mouse poncho is too sticky. Walking up to 2 hours after a rain storm in steam heat (92 degrees with 97% humidity), however great for my skin, is stickier. Generally speaking, exercise is a sticky proposition, so I need an exercise solution that keeps the stickiness to a minimum.

Florida is unique. We have over 50 ways to describe rain. I'll walk when it's merely  trying to rain, misting or drizzling and I'll squeeze a walk in before a rain shower if there's no thunder and lightening, but not in a thunderstorm with lightening. I'll walk through a morning sun sprinkle or sun shower, but not in the afternoon - too much steam heat. (Sun showers are a weird combination of whatever level of rain in full, hot sun. Some people call this a hot rain, which can be as uncomfortable as a Florida winter's cold rain.)

No matter how you describe it, walking in a hard rain is a sucky choice. I don't walk in soaking showers, deluges, when it's pouring, coming down in buckets or coming down in pooties and woozles because 20 minutes into my walk, half of my route is under 3 to 8 inches of water. Wet sneakers suck. Wet feet in soaking wet socks in soaked through sneakers suck more....you can hear them suck every step once you get onto drier land. Suck, suck, suck, well it just sucks, so I don't walk through puddles which tend to be 1/2 mile long in my neighborhood during flash flooding rain or a downpour.

Despite the rain, I've logged at least 75 miles of walking since July 27th, but little did I know, I was going to run into runner's problems. I blew out my Nikes. I didn't know to buy a new pair of walking shoes before the old ones wore out. I swear the new shoes felt fine in the store, I even hopped around in the store to make sure they were a good fit. Even so, about 40 minutes and 2 1/2 miles into my third day with them and I had a blister on my pinky toe and the start of something on my heel. Bandaids  slid off on my next walk and made the blisters worse. Shoe gooing the old Nikes lasted for a couple walks. My feet hurt when I wore my Keds - not enough support and I couldn't walk as fast in them. Finally, a sporty ballerina friend showed me how to tape up my feet with moleskin pads (3m makes the coolest stuff) for the new shoes and glue my old Nike's together. I'm slowly breaking in the new shoes without torturing my feet. (I declined to take her advice of getting the new shoes soaking wet and wearing them until they dried as that would suck.)

Not Walking

Well, if I can't walk, what can I do? Lawn work is out when it's raining, but it is a way to break in the new shoes once the rain stops. Mowing the lawn has it's attractions - 548 of them in fact, but that's only every 10 days or so. I decided to wait out the rain and try hacking at the jungle in the yard for exercise variety.

I live in the tropics, it is a jungle out there. Trimming the hedges no problem. Clipping the thorny bougainvillea has to be done with hand clippers, no problem. The banyan tree had the audacity to squirt out a limb about 4 1/2 feet above the sidewalk. I traced it back and saw where I'd have to saw through a 1 1/2" limb. It was too small to get out the chain saw and too small to support a ladder. Too big to use the hedge clippers. It was hand saw time. I was going to have to pull down the limb with one hand and saw it off with the other. Now, if I was 6 inches taller, had more testosterone and better upper arm strength, that limb would've been history in about 30 seconds. About 5 minutes into the mission Sweetie came over to offer assistance, but he thought better of it after one look at my grimly determined face. He wisely went back to hacking at the Arecas. Well, a few minutes later I had all twelve feet of that limb and as I was drug it to the driveway to chop it up I wondered about the wisdom and effectiveness of the household chore exercise program. 449 burned calories later, I decided there had to be a better way. Hacking at the jungle was at best a once a week, one or two hour deal that wouldn't really offer a good cardio work out. There's no guarantee that there would be another strength and balance workout like that limb. ...and it would be idiotic problematic to jog in place while using sharp tools.

Not Walking Part II

Housework isn't that bad anymore. I look at laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning in a new light. I still don't go out of my way to scrub toilets or chase down woozles for their bath - there are limits; however, grocery shopping isn't the chore it once was. These aren't cardio work outs and I wouldn't call them strength training either, but it burns calories and I'll take it; but housework doesn't replace a regular exercise workout.

Still Not Walking

The last time I played volleyball reminded me why I wrote an essay about my gym teacher being a sadist some years ago. I don't like tennis either. Softball is ok, but getting a game going is not so easy. My town has a exercise gym on the opposite end of town and it would take about 45 minutes to get there. My local health walkway has rats on the grounds - a lot of rats, ughh...and there's that rain thing again. That leaves work outs in front of the teevee with a DVD which reminded me of the real reason I thought my gym teacher was a sadist. That said, I can crunch 150 reps any day thanks to an old back injury and a very patient physical therapist. I still do my back exercises regularly. Again, these things burn fuel, but I'm not getting a good cardio workout like I'm getting by walking fast.

The Broken Down Skier

My weight started spiraling up when the skier broke. It was a higher end machine when we bought it more than 10 years ago and we all really liked using it, but the spring had to be replaced and now the belt slips when you use it. I banished it to the closet when I slipped while using it and my face came within 6 inches of about $8,000 in dental work. It's still in the closet because sweetie is convinced he can fix it one day. My point that that machine was a menace was lost on Sweetie. New exercisers are smoother and quieter wasn't anymore convincing. That skier made quite a racket, no matter how good the work out was. This is now, and we need to find a new machine; a machine we would actually use. Raising his eyes to the ceiling, I presume to find guidance (although what guidance a popcorn ceiling can offer must be of limited profoundness - I would think).... anyhoo, the ceiling must have told him to go along with this plan; because we moved onto the next step and he even participated in the


So, I got some new vocabulary words, Concept 2, Precor, Life....something or other, Bremshey, Tinturi and Kettler are now along side NordicTrack, Bowflex, BodySolid and Weider. Then the next question, what kind of machine do we want? An elliptical? or what?

Well, the best exercise program is one you will do. I'm done with cheap machines. After the skier broke beyond repairing a couple people got me what they were sure would be terrific replacement machines, but they suck (more than walking in the rain). I won't go into name brands and I'm not pimping this site (I'm not buying a treadmill when I can walk around the neighborhood in dry weather) but I found the advice here to be the most realistic. Due to weight and usage projections, I realized why I hated the well intentioned, but flawed replacement machines. They weren't made for someone my size who was going to use them an hour at a time, 3-5 times a week by 3 people (one of them who is bigger than I am and Chibi is tiny compared to me).

The family protested, but they went with me check out a couple area stores and to try out the equipment. Chibi wants and elliptical, Sweetie wants a strength training home gym and I was thinking elliptical all the way until I got on one. Then, I tried about 10 more ellipticals and figured it would be come a very expensive clothes rack. Plus the only one I could tolerate was HUGE and cost over $5,000. At that price it would need to stay working until I croak. The elliptical is touted as the best, low impact exercise that burns lots of calories while being kind to your knees. Today, I find that assertion to be preposterous. Sweetie hated the elliptical too and pointed out a home gym with a rower attachment (that he ultimately rejected because it was made in China). Chibi said she could use an green elliptical at FIU between classes or run between buildings with her 40 pound back pack on her back. (She agreed the campus fitness center was the better option after I. stared. her. down.) I found a rower that does strength training exercises and a place where we could try one out. Woo hoo! Sweetie and Chibi both liked it.

More Research

Finding equipment we could agree on is one thing, committing to use it is another. We looked into gyms that had ellipticals and rowers - none of us like stationary bikes. Joining a gym in our area isn't working out. Either we don't like the gym or we don't like the equipment. We know we'll talk ourselves out of driving 45 minutes to the affordable gym. We know we won't go to the gym that doubles as a dating site, but the eye candy was great...but we wouldn't want to be seen there in our exercise togs. One good thing happened out this research. Gym shopping did give us an idea of the type of exercise we will commit to doing from the free passes.

We made our decision and....well, I'm not going to pimp a name brand, but we went for the rower with the extra strength training capabilities.

All this for an occasional piece of pie.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 05:54 PM PDT.


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