Thursday, March 26, 2009

Endorphin Rush

Is it possible to exercise everyday and still not be in very good shape?

Well, if it is, that is exactly what I have been doing for the last several years. You see, when I moved across town in October, I had to quit my beloved fancy gym. Okay, I didn't have to quit, but I now live further away from the Fancy Gym, while a nearly-as-fancy facility is mere steps away from my front door. So I traded uber-luxury for convenience, and now I only have to walk two blocks when I want to exercise indoors. When I joined the Just About As Fancy Gym, the membership director managed to sell me three personal training sessions at a special rate. It didn't take much coercion; I was so desolate over leaving the Fancy Gym that I just handed her my credit card. She probably could have sold me a car, and I just would have charged it without thinking.

Anyway. I've had a trainer before. Back in 2003, also known as The Year I Was In the Best Shape of My Life, I had a deal through my job that allowed me free personal training at 24 Hour Fitness. Not at all fancy, but did I mention that the personal training was free? I had training sessions 2 to 3 times a week for nine months. I imagine now you understand why I was in the best shape of my life that year.

But that was then and this is now.

I have been very aware over the last couple of years, especially, that I have gained a little weight (not much; I'm still rather slender) and that my workouts and runs are not what they used to be. However, I had no idea just how out of shape I had become. Once I used those personal training sessions at Just About As Fancy Gym, boy, was I surprised. During our workouts, I found myself telling my trainer about how I used to be so strong and so fit while feeling like I am the fattest person in the joint now. Luckily, my trainer has dealt with my type before. She's very supportive and patient, and when I indignantly wondered aloud how someone could exercise everyday, like I do, and still feel out of shape, she suggested I kick my current exercise routine up a notch. Nothing major, just a few adjustments to what I already do and enjoy.

This woman knows what she's talking about.

One thing she has suggested is for me to do intervals when I run outside. That is to say, jog two or three blocks, then sprint one block, jog two or three more blocks, sprint one block, etc. The first time I did it, I thought I might die, but now, I don't know why I spent all those years jogging at one boring pace. I have fallen into the habit of walking the second half of my morning jog, but now during the second half, I walk two or three blocks and then jog one, walk two or three blocks and jog one. You get the picture. That gives me a nice cool down but keeps my heart rate a little higher. I've been doing these interval jogs for about a two weeks now, and I love them. I have more energy afterward, and the endorphin rush is much more intense. Given that I am an endorphin addict, I've become a big fan.

On top of all that, my personal trainer also managed to sell me more sessions once my introductory three were done with a commitment for me to buy even more in the future. Oh, she is brilliant, that trainer of mine. Brilliant.

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