Tech Vader at the Gym

Well I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take my techie nerdesty into the gym. I find that the more technological equipment I can strap to my person, the better I feel about the whole workout experience.

It started with tunes. I find it nearly impossible to work out without a good mix of sweatastic jams. And the mix has to be perfect. I spend weeks tweaking the mix, adding songs, deleting them, taking them for test runs and then adding and deleting some more from my MP3 player. Just when I think I’ve found the perfect mix, I get bored with it and start the whole process over again.

When I’m in my spinning class, the instructor picks the music and I actually don’t mind it. I think of her songs as stationary biking songs and my music as everything else music. And she does a pretty good job, serving as both freakishly awesome teacherly person and DJ simultaneously. On International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I greeted her in Piratese and asked that she conduct the day’s class in a manner befitting the occasion. Glad that I had reminded her of the holiday, she pulled from her CD wallet a disc entitled “Pirate Mix.” I kid you not. The first song was from the soundtrack of that one Johnny Depp pirate movie. The name escapes me… And we all let loose with a hearty “Arrrr Mateys!” and when the going got rough, we suggested that our instructor walk the plank if she felt so inclined.

Tunes ARRRRRR important. I keep my MP3 player strapped to my arm with a black band. It’s a cheap 1 gigger but I’m dreaming of the new Zune. Am I the only one who loves the Zune in all its hotness? Also, I ask you all why you are not downloading all of your music from the Zune site. It’s cheaper than iTunes and comes in a more versatile format, playable on all kinds of devices. If you have iTunes software, it will convert your Zune files into iPod-accessible format in a jiffy so you can play your songs anywhere.

Next in my oh-so-important Darth Vader-like arsenal of life-sustaining workout devices is my heart monitor. I lerve it so greatly. With that strap around my chest and that watch on my wrist I can always see how fast my heart is going so I know if I’m getting a decent workout or not. There are times when I look around the gym and feel like an over-sized mollusk, schlumping my way along on the treadmill and then I look at my heart rate monitor and see that I’m actually getting quite a nice workout. So I take heart and keep on keepin’ on. When I’m stronger and have shed a few layers of myself, there will be time for running like a gazelle. For now, I’ll settle for mollusk if it’s getting me where I need to be.

Truly I used to get so frustrated with my speed compared to everyone else around me. Now I just compare my speed today with my speed yesterday. It’s been 3 weeks and I already have to work much harder to keep my heart rate where it needs to be for a good cardio workout. It’s encouraging and the monitor helps me notice the teeny little baby steps I’m making.

A word of advice — if you’re going to get a heart rate monitor, spend the extra money and get one with a chest strap that keeps constant track of your heart rate. Attempting to save money, I originally bought one for $40 at Target that required me to stop moving and put my free hand on the watch to make a complete circuit in order for it to read my pulse. It was a big waste of money and really frustrating to use. Strangely enough, I found a decent Reebok chest strap monitor on Woot a few months later for $19.95. It works great and I love it.

The third piece of equipment that really keeps me going is my pedometer. I’d used one in the past and didn’t know what the big deal was with counting steps. Mine wasn’t accurate and I forgot to keep track so I could compare my activity levels from day to day. The one I have now, a $30 model from Omron, rests in my pocket or clips onto my belt and keeps really accurate track of how much I’m moving. It has a digital display that calculates number of steps, number of aerobic steps and distance traveled based on me entering the average length of my stride. It keeps track of 7 days worth of data at any one time, resetting itself automatically at midnight. I wear it to work out and try to beat my step record from the previous day.

Then I continue to wear it throughout the day, trying to log as many steps as possible. I have chosen to walk 2 or more miles to meetings just so I can see a higher number on the pedometer. The moral of the story is, if I make fitness a game, I’m much more likely to get on board and stay there.

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