Thursday, December 17, 2009


Sorry I’ve been so absent for so long. I’d like to be able to say that it’s because I’ve been spending every spare minute at California Family Fitness (or, as I now know the cool kids call it, “CalFit”) working my body back into a semblance of strength, flexibility and endurance. Well, not quite. There have been late days at work and board meetings and hair appointments and whatnot. But I’ve been getting over to CalFit pretty regularly and I have a few things to say about being a member of a gym again.
As a gym person, you feel different. Especially if you’re a gym person who actually goes go the gym from time to time. My perception of myself as a Person Who Works Out inflated to include the capital letters you see before you, and this was just after the first visit. I also became a Person Who Has to Worry About Having Enough Clean Workout Clothes, for the first time in about two and a half years. Sports bras, tops, shorts, socks, swimsuits, towels --- there suddenly seemed to be no end to the things I had to keep clean and dry. I walked a little differently with my gym bag on my shoulder, a little springier, even with the extra weight of all that Stuff.
I had missed the water. Man, how I had missed regular immersion, even in a too-shallow, over-chlorinated lap pool. I even welcomed the once-familiar sensations of leaking goggles and nasal passages stinging from chlorine in places where chlorine was not meant to be. My first lap swim session was slow, with a little rest between every lap, and lots of easy backstroke to catch my breath and try to balance out the load on my shoulders. I could only manage about 600 yards, which used to be less than my warmup, but I was ok with it. With only a couple of sessions a week I’ve already made it up to 1200 yards, and once I can do 1500 again without feeling like my arms will drop off I’ll start working a bit on going faster. Right now I’m just trying to feel symmetrical in the water, working on breathing to either side with equal ease, keeping my elbows high and my head low, rotating with each stroke. All the old stuff.
One chilly, windy evening I decided to take an indoor cycling class, “X-bike (i),” as the flavor of the month is called. The “X” is for the work that you do with your arms on these funny stationary bikes with a movable handlebar unit. It’s not much “X” if you ask me, but it’s a new gimmick. I got to class a bit late, and the lights were down low, with club-style black lights were flashing everywhere. Fitness through disorientation? My cycling socks glowed in the dark whenever the black lights passed over them. The music was pounding and an impossibly fit woman was on one of these funny bikes up on the platform. I hastily arranged my bike and jumped on. Not surprisingly, it was hard for me to keep up with some of the “climbing” bits, since I’ve always kind of sucked at climbing, especially standing up. And now I’ve lived in a pancake flat river valley for a year and a half.

But I pedaled along the best I could, cranking up the resistance when it felt ok, backing off when I got too puffed. I didn’t die in there. I want to do it again tomorrow, even. And afterward (it was a short class), I got out and did some crunches, some planks, some “swimmers” with resistance bands, and some curls and presses, so it was a real “X” workout that left me pleasantly sore the next day.
I still need to get to the point where getting over to the gym feels like a need instead of a pleasant option, but at least it feels pleasant.


  1. Great going! I'm so glad you feel up to working out. Heck, you're doing better than I am. Sounds like a nice gym. I know what you mean about clean gym clothes. I just joined a gym three months ago and though I've gone seldom (so far--the new year and its resolutions are just around the corner), each visit is fraught with "Are these clean?" and "Dang, I look awful in this."

  2. "Fitness through disorientation?" LOL! Cool that you've found a gym you're enjoying. Keep it fun!

  3. Hi Jayne,

    I'm a 34-year-old actor/writer lifelong bookworm and non-athlete, training for my first sprint tri this May. I'm burning my way through Slow Fat Triathlete and (to be crude), holy crap, have you ever inspired me.

    I did my first lap session EVER on Monday. I can "swim" in the sense of not drowning, but beyond that it's a challenge. I flailed my way through only 50 metres (I'm Canadian), before I had to stop And I was slow. Old men passed me with looks of pity on their faces. In short, I sucked. But it's okay. Reading this post about your return to water, has (pardon the pun) buoyed me once again. I will keep swimming, do what I can and have faith that by May, I'll be ready.

    Anyway, apologies for blog-stalking you. I just really wanted to thank you for sharing your stories with the wide world. You've made me proud to be slow! :)

  4. I want you to know that you have inspired me. This past summer I swam the 1 mile race around the Santa Cruz Wharf and have a goal to participate in the Santa Cruz Triathlon.

    Amie B.

  5. Hiya Jayne! Just picked up both your books and love them. Am doing my first sprint tri this summer.

    I was very excited to find your blog but where the heck are you? I hope all is ok and that you post again soon.

  6. Hey guys, thanks for the good comments.

    @Nadine - your trouble is swimming those pesky meters. Yards are much shorter. ;-)