Monday, March 29, 2010


S”p”unday or more commonly Spin Day, at high noon.
Got to the gym at 11:00 A.M., all of the bikes are taken.
Seems people smarter than me have set up the night before.
I need to call my wife as she was planning on joining me for Spin Class, our first couple’s activity in the gym.
I was disappointed as I have come to look forward to this class.
It is a very popular class, frequently oversubscribed and no one is giving up their seat.
Well, no matter, the faithful stair-master is always available ever willing to break my spirit.
In a gesture of “righteous indignation” over the lost Spin class I decide to outperform the Spinners.
I set the program, Ultimate Fat Burner, level 6, duration-60 minutes.
I am wearing a new heart rate monitor given to me as a gift and the stair-master in a show of contempt starts to automatically display my heart rate, picking up the transmission from the chest lead.
The down side or maybe the upside, I could see the heart rate but not the time.
I have to go by the big clock on the wall down on the main gym floor and the distance makes it fuzzy but I estimate the time as 11:15 or 11:20 A.M.
So I know I will be finished by 12:20 to 12: 30 P.M. before the Spinners had completed their efforts.
After entering all the settings I begin the climb
Somewhere around 30 minutes (give or take a few) into the session my heart rate registers 130 beats per minute.
The legs, OK but sweating, over the top.
Should I decrease the level?
The answer- not yet.
Forty five minutes into the climb-heart rate now around 155 but regular, legs OK but now a large pool of sweat has formed on the stair-master.
Maybe I can drown it.
I am starting to groan but the stair-master just purrs along like a well tuned machine with no emotions.
Turn it down; it seems to say with its flashing lights- no way!
Fifty-five minutes, the heart rate sticks at 160 beats per minute.
I am now seriously wet.
The stair-master is seriously wet but shows no signs of tiring, while I on the other hand am having trouble lifting my legs to the next step.
My body says in no uncertain terms that it is time to admit, the stair-master wins this round.
As I climb down and begin cleaning the equipment I can hear the faint beat of the Spin Class Music.
I am envious, at least in there I could be sitting down.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on Spinning

I love spinning.
I don’t know why, because for me it is sixty minutes of over exertion.
Every time I start I am not sure I will finish.
I am always worried I will fall off the bike (maybe dead).
That would be humiliating if nothing else.
Sparta is right about one thing though, if you grab the music it won’t let you down.
At the start of the session last Sunday Sparta announced, “If you fall off your bike I won’t see you because I am going to keep my eyes closed”.
Just like a tree in the woods, does it make a noise when it falls if no one hears it?
It does disturb the air and creates ripples in the atmosphere and probably alters the flow of energy in the Universe but I guess technically if no one “hears” it fall then it doesn’t make a sound since sound is the brain interpreting all of the changes in air currents and energy flow in the universe.
So can you fall off the bike if no one sees you?
Here is where it gets tricky.
According to Schrodinger in a now famous thought experiment involving a cat in a sealed box, a radioactive compound and a vial of poison, at time t1 the cat is alive but at time t2 after a certain set of criteria is realized, the cat may be both alive and dead and only assumes one state over the other if someone looks or Observes.
So can you falloff the bike if no one is looking?
If Sparta is the only observer and she keeps her eyes closed then you may have fallen off the bike and still be riding at the same time.
It is only after she opens her eyes and sees you either lying on the floor writhing in pain or still riding in pain that the answer is realized.
So maybe if she keeps her eyes open from the start we won’t ever fall off of the bikes.
In truth after each session I feel like I have fallen off the bike not just once but many times.
It is even hard to walk down the steps without some trepidation.
It really doesn’t matter in the end whether you stay on the bike or fall off of the bike as long as you don’t leave until the session is over.
Besides who would ever want to leave and miss that last song?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What a Week

What a week this has been.
The Federal Legislative process grinds on and somebody is going to get crushed.
That is all I will say on that.
The Vatican has been embroiled in a widening scandal in Europe.
That is all I am going to say about that.
The President and The Pope both seem to have some issues and that is all I am going to say about that except maybe their people could arrange a lunch and they could discuss their issues over a healthy meal of Green Tea and salad.
The NCAA playoffs are in full swing and so far my favorite teams; Gonzaga and Xavier remain in the hunt. I keep hoping for a final four that includes Butler, Gonzaga, Xavier and Sienna but alas Sienna has already folded the tent this year.
Oh, and I guess Tiger Woods is going to play in the Masters at Augusta. Yawn!
A lot more has happened around this world but you can read about it or watch it on one of the 24-hour news networks.
Actually I prefer 24 hours of weather; At least it is always changing.
This was a full week in the gym, 10 to 12 hours, to be inexact. My goal, weigh in at 188 on Saturday morning. Many food demons were lurking, dinner with a group of my wife’s friends, Irish stew, Fish Pie, Salad and Chocolate Brownies.
The salad was tasty, the second helping of salad was tasty and the third helping of salad although tasty began to seem a bit much.
I did hit 188.8 on Saturday. Not where I wanted to be, 0.8 pounds over but close enough.
I finished the week with Boot Camp and training. Now I am tired and I will most likely take a recovery day because the next step is 184 and 10 chin-ups.
Then again I may go for the spinning class on Sunday after taking time for church or I may go play a round of golf although my slice is pretty bad this time of year and it vexes me; the Dali Lama said in his book “The Road To Happiness” to avoid vexing situations, so even golf may be out.
But I just can’t get excited about sitting home and watching instead of doing.
It seems to me the world stage as reported every day on the news is littered with clowns and I was never a great fan of clowns even in the circus.
So Maybe Anthony Newley had it right in “Stop The World-I want To Get Off
Otherwise I’ll visualize you in your gym on Monday, wherever that may be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spinning, Time, Heart Beats and Relativity

Why does time slip by so fast in spinning class.
I have been amazed how quickly it is all over.
The command, “Let’s get started”, lights down, music up and then all out, stand, climb hills, chase, flats, keep it up, more hills and then “only five minutes left in the race, let's go”.
Then cool down, another spinning class is in the books.
I would think the sheer effort of sixty minutes of cycling would drag on forever.
Einstein’s theory says the faster a body moves the slower time ticks in relation to an outside observer, so for the one spinning time should seem to elongate while everyone else outside of the spin class would age at a faster pace.
But instead, time seems to speed up in spin class and here is my theory as to why this occurs.
The heart rate trumps Einstein in this case.
All living creatures including humans have about one and one half-billion heartbeats stored in their heart at birth.
So someone with a resting heart rate of 45 to 50 (Please don’t waste the time doing the math as the approximation is good for this Blog) would live on average 70 years.
If the heart rate were doubled such as in a smaller animal the life span would be significantly shorter because you would use up your heartbeats at a much faster rate.
As an example shrews and hummingbirds have heart rates that vary between 1000 and 1400 beats per minute, thus exceedingly short life spans versus blue whales and elephants that have very slow heart rates and very long life spans.
What does this have to do with spinning and the fact that time seems to move so fast?
The answer, in spinning the average heart rate approaches 150 to 160 beats per minute.
That means you are using up your heart beats thus your life 3 to 4 times faster than when you are resting.
So during the spinning class you are actually using up four hours of heart beats within one hour and the body senses this dramatic increase in the use of life units.
The mind to protect the cycler, re-calibrates reality making the hour seem like it is really only minutes, 15 to 20 to be exact.
Somewhere in this thought is a good experiment just waiting to be undertaken.

Friday, March 12, 2010

So This Is Empty

Finishing a big week..
In the gym every day beginning last Sunday with start times earlier than unusual so was able to do more than the normal routine.
Sunday, walk 18 holes of golf followed by 3.2 miles on the Stair-Master and then on to weights.
This happened Monday (Stair-Master then weights), Tuesday (weights followed by Boot Camp), Wednesday (Stair-Master and weights), and Thursday (weights followed by Boot Camp).
Friday, looking forward to exercise tonight, but noticing a lot more soreness, surely that will ease up through the day.
Attend a quick reception at 5:00 PM, ate a few light snacks (no sugar, mainly protein in the form of chicken, grilled) and head for the gym.
Forgot the Advil, still sore but I am sure I can work it out.
Change and head up to the Stair-Master; legs are dead, no action, don’t want to climb, it only lasts nine minutes. Knees are gone and calves begin cramping almost immediately.
It is done before it starts.
So no matter, I can still do the weight routine.
But just in case, I decide to start light as my arms remain very sore.
Dumbbell bench presses followed by Lat Pull downs.
Again nothing works.
I struggle to get 10 reps with the lighter weights and the pull downs just don’t happen.
I sit there staring ahead, absorbing empty.
As I was thinking about the empty and how "negative" it seemed I suddenly remembered something the Dali Lama had said:
The ultimate goal is "cultivating the wisdom of no self," a sense of grand emptiness that leaves behind the everyday pollution, both physical and emotional.
I walked out of the gym smiling, maybe tonight was good, even better than I could have imagined.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Am In a Hurry

I am going to Boot Camp tonight.
I was in the gym last night doing Cardio and free-weights when it “hit” me.
I am in a hurry.
The gentleman lifting next to me gave his age as twenty-eight; he has time on his side.
There were no older people in the gym at this late hour.
They are all at home in bed or watching late night TV.
I never want to re-join the ranks of the TV watchers or the couch sitters.
I want to be in the ranks of the late night sweaty, over-achievers that populate the gym.
It was again hammered home today after reading a Wall Street Journal article by Ron Winslow.
The article details a study that was undertaken with 50 to 65 year olds.
In 2006, 906 of the original group had reached the age of a least 85.
The common denominator, exercise.
One gentleman who is currently 89 has run 744 Marathons in his life.
Another, age 85 bicycles and runs daily.
So I am in a hurry.
I will “possibly” turn 85 in twenty-two years.
Notice I say “possibly”, there is no guarantee but it is a very short time in the future.
It is my last quarter, if I can compare life to football game, and the “team” was out of shape in the second and third quarter.
The “team” is getting in better shape but still has a long way to go.
The “team” has a lot of goals and is going to have to be in great shape to accomplish them.
The diet is the hard part but I am getting used to eating things that taste like cardboard and library paste.
Black Bean Burgers are now at the top of the list as one of my favorite foods.
I do treat myself every so often but dietary control is becoming a new way of life because I want to be successful.
Exercise is its own reward.
So I am in a hurry.
I need to take off the rest of the weight, decrease the percentage of fat and add more muscle.
Then I need to start checking off my goals, one at a time.
I am looking for a “touchdown” not just a field goal.
Maybe in the end I can make Joe Black wait to meet me instead of me rushing headlong to meet him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Everyone Is Back

The class has really gotten popular and large.
Last night somewhere between fourteen and eighteen people showed up to Anaerobic Hell previously known as Boot Camp.
The original group, Ammo, The Ambassador, Cheshire, along with OD showed up. Only Transformer was counted among the missing.
Sparta in the meantime has developed new routines that keep you right at the level of metabolic catastrophe but allows just enough time to avoid collapse.
I can feel my liver squeezing out the last drops of glycogen to keep the machinery running.
The sweat dripping down like a cooling tower keeps it all from meltdown.
The heart keeps trying to push to new levels of performance by beating faster and faster, always beyond target and frequently beyond the max.
But in a really strange way it is fun.
I think that is why the class keeps growing.
That is why the original group continues to come night after night.
People are having fun and are secretly pleased when they push themselves beyond their preconceived limits.
Last night during the ab routine, it started with fifty planks.
At the count of fifty came the command, “Hold”, wait ten seconds and then ten more, “Hold”, then ten more, “Hold”, five more, finally the total, seventy five now flip over and do the same seventy five on the other side go back to crunches and then repeat the planks, seventy five more per side. In the end one hundred and fifty planks per side; unless you do these it is hard to imagine the pain and exhaustion.
Groans, moans, all struggling to meet expectations, imposed by and upon themselves.
Finishing is the “Apple” for the teacher and hopefully a pat on the back or “Hey, job well done”.
But in the end it really is the “fun” that keeps everyone working.
Now I am curious, with spring just around the corner how many will stay through the summer?
Golf will attract some; outdoors will pull like a magnet, cookouts, hotdogs, ball games, summer trips beer will all compete with this routine.
But in the end there is no substitute for this “fun”.
Remember the best part is yet to come because as soon as the weather finally turns we get to go “Tire Flipping” and Car Pushing”.