The Hurt Locker

Back when I was in college there was a certain boy that caught my eye, and try as I might I could not get his attention. He was one of those thick-necked guys who picks up heavy stuff at a weight room, so in desperation I put aside years of hard-earned anti-athletecism and joined the college gym. It was a miserable place, full of grunting 20 year-olds taking courses in diesel mechanics. And me.

The thick-necked guy never did notice me, but I began to kind of like going to the gym in spite of myself, and gradually made it a part of my life. I spent years doing everything wrong, wasting hours on the stair master or rowing machine, lifting weights either way too heavy or way too light. I may have got a couple of dates out of the deal, but as far as “working out” I had no guidance, and beyond looking hot at the bar, I had no plan.

I did know, however, what I didn’t want. And that was to look like this:

Or this:

Since then, I have tried to educate myself through reading, experience, coaching, and talking to people who know something about these things. And now I have a goal (I’d tell you what it is, but then I’d have to kill you).

My latest foray in the sweaty Land of Gym has come in the form of specialized group sessions at First Choice Fitness, a place I affectionately refer to as The Hurt Locker. They are cycling specific sessions, ga-ran-teed to make me faster on the bike. I have to get up stupid early in the morning to go, but I have found them to be very enjoyable thanks to the highly effective and customized program, great company and a trainer that looks like this:

Some of you will remember Blake from the races this year, in particular the race back in July where he fell (literally) head over heels for me. Thankfully there were no hard feelings, although Blake probably gets some amount of pleasure doling out the pain during our hour long suffer sessions.

Unfortunately, Blake is now on a 3 week honeymoon with his equally attractive new wife. They are going to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro, then doing a week long safari, followed by a week in Zanzibar lounging on the beach. I bet he misses us terribly. In the meantime, he has left us in the capable hands of Nicole, a cute young gymnast who looks something like this:

I think she is roughly 12 years old, but will grudgingly admit she is awesome and really knows her stuff. I have also noticed a marked increase in the enthusiasm and attendance of the men in the group. I, however, slept in today.

Regardless, the gym is great and the program is awesome. I feel stronger and more balanced overall, and wish it was summer so I could show off my newly toned legs and abs. The other nine folks taking the sessions with me are all cyclists and triathletes that I know from one place or another, so we are all one big, happy, sweaty, stinky family. The boys are very helpful and will often tell me how much more effective my exercises would be if I wore a weighted vest or did a hundred reps instead of the suggested twenty. So helpful. I tell them how much more effective their exercises would be if they did them shirtless.

Adding strength training to my biking will hopefully pay off once we hit the road in the spring. Time will tell. In the meantime I suppose I should thank that thick-necked diesel mechanic, wherever he is.