Saturday, March 26, 2011

I joined the YMCA a month ago as a facility member. The first three weeks I was really great about keeping a work-out schedule. The last week hasn't been great for different reasons, primarily half-days for the kids due to parent/teacher conferences. Next week I hope to get back into it again.

Part of the facility membership includes use of the Cybex weight machines. Before using the machines for the first time, I met with someone to set me up on them. Each machine has one or two adjustments, in addition to the weight setting, so that I'm positioned properly. On leg machines, that would be back and leg settings. On the arm machines, it's just seat height.

I told the trainer that it had been twenty years since I'd lifted weights with any regularity. She must have thought I said that I've been lifting for twenty years because at each machine she impatiently asked me how much weight I could lift on it. I had no idea. I generally offered conservative amounts and she urged me to go higher.

So in the twenty years since I've used Cybex, they've gained touch screens like everything else. I have an account and the computer tracks my statistics. I can access my results over the web. I've done that once twice. The results are fairly meaningless to me so far.

There's a facility-wide ranking and I began at dead last. I've moved up since. :-)

The computer also reminds me of my custom machine settings. The first machine in the circuit - and I don't always have the luxury of starting at one end and going down the line because people jump in here and there - is squats. I do 90 lbs. on that right now. Because you have to type in your account number each time you get on a machine, most people do their two sets back-to-back without getting off the machine. That's not how I was taught to do it. My habit was to do one full circuit and then come back around for the second set. But now I do my two sets back-to-back like everyone else.

The next machine is for glutes. I'd never used a machine like that before. It's alright. I can't remember my weight on that, maybe 37.5 lbs. The next machine is leg curl for the hamstrings and then leg extension for the quads. There's a calf muscle machine. Abductor and adductor machines - two separate machines, not combined in one. There's a row machine without chains.

I have the most trouble with chest press and overhead ("military") press. I've even dropped down the weight on both of those machines. Next weakest are my biceps and triceps. Oh, well, and my abs too. We won't even talk about that. The ab machine is a little too painless. Maybe I'm not doing it right.

If there is no one on the machines, I can get through two sets in an hour. I move really slowly on the machines. The display screen shows desirable range of motion and also points out when I'm going too fast or in danger of letting the weights touch. I find that I don't take my eyes off the screen when I'm lifting. I'm used to watching myself in the mirror to check my form, but in most cases, there isn't even a mirror and in other cases I can't see myself. I think there ought to be more mirrors and the machine's display ought to be on the mirror, too, so I have to look only in one place.

I'm also very used to counting the reps myself. Even though the machine counts for me, I still count along mentally. I've also been swimming in the pool anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour, but usually around 45 minutes. The pool is getting shorter, thank goodness, but it still takes me a minute to swim a length (25 yds., I guess). So, in an hour, I swim 1,500 yards perhaps. It's a start. I was never a competitive swimmer.

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