Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three Goals, One To Do

Goal One: Be there when Chipmunk wins the Nobel Prize. (or a Pulitzer, or a Nebula, or an Oscar, or, you know, whatever. I'm not picky.)

Goal Two: Be able to play with Chipmunk without hurting myself, have the energy and muscle capacity to do the lion's share of work around the house while Christie's recovering.

Goal Three: Have good habits established so when Chipmunk gets here, it's easy for Christie to start going back to the gym.

Extra Bonus Goal: Don't waste the money that we're already paying for the gym.

To Do: Go to the gym regularly.

Progress: I've gone 2-3 times each of the last three weeks, which is a lot better than zero, which is how often I was going. I sprained my foot about the time Christie got pregnant, so we simultaneously fell off the wagon. And this foot sprain has turned out to be a persistent bugger, so I couldn't do the treadmill, or the treadclimber, and I wasn't terribly excited about the bike. I tried the elliptical, and it left me hurting as well. At this rate, I was worried that my cardio was going to come from one of those things with the hand pedals you see the old guys on.

Then I remembered the rowing machine. I'd never used one because they looked, well, tricky. And there is a bit of technique involved, but nothing you can't learn in five minutes from Google. In terms of heart rate, I'm finding that the sky is pretty much the limit, once you condition your muscles. In fact, last night I kept going over my target zone. Conditioning the muscles is the hard part, actually. If you decide to take up the rowing machine, don't just jump on and do 30 minutes. Start with 5 minutes. That'll most likely be more than enough to leave you sore. Ramp up from there. It's taken me four workouts to finally get to the point where I can do 30 minutes.

Which muscles does it work? Pretty much all of them. But I'm sure some will stand out. My trapezius (upper back and shoulders) and lattisimus dorsi (lower back) hurt the most after a workout, but those are also the ones that hurt the most after a day of picking up and setting down babies and baby toys (or a day in the workshop, or doing yardwork), so I consider this a feature, not a bug. I want that core body strength in place before Chipmunk gets here.

As cool as rowing is, I want to caution you about some serious issues that can result from the incorrect use of a rowing machine. I don't know of any, but I'd really like to be able to say there were some, because most gyms only have a couple of machines, and I like knowing that I'm one of only a handful of people who will use it, which means I don't have to worry when the gym is crowded.

Our gym had two, but the first time both machines were occupied at once, a staffer came up with a third machine and rolled it into place next to us. Maybe I don't need to worry about not getting a machine. Maybe in a few years, all the recumbent bikes will be replaced with rowers. But maybe not. Can't be too careful.

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