new fitness fun!

Today I took my debit card out for a spin and made two exciting purchases. First off, I woke up determined to join a gym today. This is something I'd been considering for months, spending hours comparing gym locations, prices, and amenities. The closest gym to me is the YMCA and I applied for financial assistance, since their membership fees are way out of my budget of zero income. Very surprisingly, I got turned down for aid [how does a person with no income not qualify for financial assistance?] so I've been considering other gyms in the area since I got that denial letter last week. I wanted to join the Y, since they have a pool which would be great for my ankle, but I can't afford $99 to join. Sorry, no.

Ahem. Anyway. I'd actually been looking at gyms since February but I wanted to make sure I stuck to this fitness program before I signed a contract with anyone. So, I put it on the backburner for a while. And as you're well aware, not having a gym hasn't really held me back. I've lost over 20 pounds in 3 months, without a gym and even with an injury. Yes, it's been frustrating and probably more difficult than if I'd had a gym membership [or no injury] from the start, but it's been doable.

So why get a membership now? Well, it's mostly because I wanted a change. I love going to the gym, especially since I've always been in love with the elliptical trainer and there's just nothing to simulate that at home. I was getting a little bored of my regular workout videos but don't feel like I can do the more intense ones like P90X yet [especially with this ankle]. And, importantly, I finally had a little bit of cash to actually put aside for the gym.

So, after weighing all the pros and cons of the nearby gyms, I went down to Planet Fitness and signed up with them. They're a very basic gym, there are no extra classes like yoga or zumba that I'm used to, but it's also a really great price, just ten bucks a month. I can actually afford that! I don't need frills, especially since I mostly just want to use the elliptical machine until I can start running on my ankle. They have that. [Plus, bonus: showers! I don't have a shower at home, just a bathtub, so I haven't had a shower since I was at my mom's over Christmas. This was very exciting for me!]

I was there in the middle of the afternoon so it was pretty empty, but that's just fine with me. There were lots of cardio machines and they even had two of every weight machine [my old gym only had one of every kind]. The downside is that I didn't see a stairmaster or a rowing machine [although I didn't look for that one, I'll admit] but, eh, they're not entirely necessary [I honestly think I logged an hour total on both of those in the days I used to go to the gym every single day for three years]. The first thing I did, of course, was hit the elliptical. 35 minutes and it felt great! I didn't push myself too hard, since it was my first go and I knew I had the 3 mile bike ride back home afterwards, but it was still a pretty good workout and burned over 300 calories [according to the machine; 500 according to sparkpeople]. When I was done with that, I walked on the treadmill at a 5% incline for 10 minutes before hitting the shower. Not bad for a first day. Honestly, the bike ride home was the hardest part... my legs were tired already! I gotta get them used to this.

I've been to a lot of gyms over the years and this one fell firmly in the middle range of likability. There were some terrible gyms in Chicago that I tried out [one, I had a two week free pass and couldn't even make it through the first day because it was too hot in there. In January!], and I will forever love my small town gym that my mom still goes to [if I lived nearby, or had a car to drive there, I'd sign up there in a heartbeat], but this is a good middle ground. All the gyms were about 3-4 miles from my house [besides the Y, which is only 2] and this was by far the cheapest. It has lots of machines and online reviews said that even during peak hours, cardio machines are always open. There's no time limit for the machines [another gym in Chicago only let you sign up for 30 minute blocks on cardio machines. 30 minutes! I can easily log an hour on the elliptical]. The people seemed friendly enough, the staff was very friendly, and the music they played was such a variety that it must please everyone at least every fifth song [I had my ipod on but the few times I listened in, I heard a 50s hit, the 80s' "Come On Eileen", and a new song that's on the radio today and I only vaguely know from being in my mom's car]. The ages ranged from a kid in his mid-teens to an old guy in his 70s or so. Very comfortable.

Oh, this wasn't supposed to be a review. Ahem. Anyway. When I got home, I finally made that purchase I've been waiting for and working towards-- my 10% reward of my very own heart rate monitor! Okay, so I'm only at 9.99% officially but I'm confident that I'll hit that last 0.2 pounds on Sunday [which will most likely be before the HRM is delivered]. This is another thing I've been considering for a long time, reading reviews and features and debating what I need. I ended up being torn between the Polar FT40 and the FT60, there are only slight differences between the two but the latter is PINK [the FT40 is white, which I'm not extremely enthusiastic about]. The FT60, however, is more expensive so I went with the more sensible purchase and got the FT40. I do think it'll look good with my bike, which has white casing on the cables, but... I really wanted the pink one. Oh well. I will let you know all about it when it gets here! I haven't had a heart rate monitor since 2007 [I lost the transmitter in the move to Chicago, but the watch part stayed with me for a few more years after that], that was the Polar F4 which was a waaaaaay simpler model so I'm looking forward to newer features.

So anyway. That was my exciting day. Two big fitness purchases that I've been looking forward to for months. Now I just have to wait for my HRM to get here!