Monday, March 08, 2010

The new me

No this is not a spoof on the a Who song.

Since the start of February, I've been following a conditioning program. Through my employer - for a modest fee - I am enrolled in structured fitness program. While I've been a gym goer - off and on - in the back of my head I've known that my haphazard, informal approach wasn't particularly effective.

My structured program consists of a combination of exercises for improving my cardiovascular, strength and flexibility.

For cardio, I have a choice of four programs. I am to complete there of these in a week. While I have the choice of outdoor activities - e.g. cross country skiing and skating - the indoor exercises at the gym have worked better with my schedule. I have been alternating between the stationary bicycle and the stair machine. Either of these seem to provide a more strenuous workout than the elliptical machines that I generally favoured before starting the program.

The step machine reports the most use of calories. I'm not certain how accurate the numbers are - as I feel that the stationary bike is as intense, or even slightly more.

The strength exercises lean to simple, low-tech. For example, the first few weeks required a number of sets of sit-ups. Sit-ups have always been a weak point for me. Before starting this conditioning program, I would use the "ab-roller" bench and some leg lifts. In retrospect, these provided little benefit. Forcing myself to get through the sit-ups was the toughest task.

Of course, now that I'm comfortable with them, the program has switched me to the bicycle crunches. I'm just getting the hang of these. I'll be keeping the sit-ups in the program as well.

Last but not least is the stretching. I am dutifully performing a set of stretching at the end of the workout. I don't expect that I'll become particularly flexible as a result. However, if I can improve at all I'll be happy.

The structured program is one step short of hiring a personal trainer. For now, I'm happy with it. It helps to have been involved in sports back in school - as much from a confidence perspective as anything.

In six weeks, I'll be back for the follow-up metrics. In the meantime, I email the kinesiologist my workout log each week. Having someone 'watching' is certainly helpful in sticking with the program.

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