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New Gym

There's a stereotype that nerdy types are unfit and don't look after themselves that well, but I for one won't keep contributing to that stereotype. I made the bold choice of going to a gym back in 2021, which I won't name here because I don't want to discredit them too much. A chain gym of course.
You do the thing, give it a go, post about it on Facebook, say to yourself you're going to commit to it indefinitely. And I did go to it about once per week, noticing that it did make me feel a little bit better afterwards, increasing my muscle strength a bit and giving me an extra opportunity for cardio.

But I gave up ultimately. As many do. I am overweight, and more notably, very anxious and a bit shy. I don't like sharing spaces with people that I don't know that much. I say to myself when I'm there, oh they're not judging. But it's more the complex dynamic of sharing equipment that I struggled with. I would go to the gym at just about any hour, and someone was always using the equipment (or just sitting near it) that I'm told is the best to use. Probably why it's in use. So over time, I just got sick of not being able to use the right equipment, settling for the equipment that focuses on fewer muscles (not as effective).
But how I knew what the best equipment to use is a long story. A story I was going to share on Facebook but realised it was a bit long for a Facebook post (And I'm no Mark Zuckerberg who has a habit of making long posts). Back in late 2016 or early 2017 (the past is a bit blurry) at the newly-started Enterprize co-working space, they had (and no longer run due to siginificant growth) a monday meetup where anyone could come along and share their projects, notably startup ideas. I met Brett, who was looking for help with a gadget you attach to a certain type of exercise bike. He was looking for someone to modify some code, so you could attach a gamepad. I said I could do it, as I was working with a similar microcontroller recently for my volunteering at CSIRO Sandy Bay. From then, our communications were a bit patchy due to me picking up new work. Ultimately I couldn't help, but his contact who provided him the gadget couldn't help either due to life committments. Such is life.
Fast forward to about 2021, where I made contact with him again. I found the gadget he gave me back in 2017 in a box somewhere and it prompted me to contact him, perhaps he still wanted help with it.
Had a few catch ups and ultimately (he's a bit of a talkative person) lead to me borrowing his spare VR headset to get a better feel for VR (I hadn't used one personally before). For the purpose of developing extra sensor device addons. I used it, enjoyed it and gave it back ultimately because I bought a Meta Quest 2 for myself (which I'm pretty happy with mostly).

After a bit of a grace period, I contacted him again with questions about his gym. After my dissatisfaction with the chain gym, and the talkative person he is, I learned about his gym, Little Jim Gym. So I thought if I was going to quit the chain gym, then I ought to switch to another gym right?

So after an induction period, I've been going to it for about 2 months now. And it's been great! Full disclaimer, I haven't lost much weight yet, but I am told the secret to losing weight is redacted haha no I will tell you. The secret is cardio (heart rate inducing) exercise and diet (low calories) more than aything. And using a meal tracker app like My Fitness Pal. You can enter almost everything with a barcode, and create meals from recipes, split into portions. So I've been using that and finding that I often eat a lot of calories.. But the gym still helps in a lot of other ways.

The gym has been interesting. It's a small building, with not a lot of equipment (unlike chain gyms), but it can be configured for some heavy-hitting exercises that target a lot of muscles. I'm doing a few key exercises:

  • Handled bar Rack Assisted Squat
  • Incline Bench Lat Pulldown
  • Seated "Chain Gang" Cable Decline Chest Press
  • Viking Shoulder Press

Just four exercises that apparently target most muscles in the body for strength training. Pretty neat and effective. Oh, and another important feature - you're all by yourselfa the gym which suits me well - I can't really find anyone to accompany me to a gym so I feel a lot more comfortable doing the gym stuff all by myself. It's refreshingly better than the experience at chain gyms! (for me).

Brett has told me there are many benefits to strength training, notably the mental health benefits of making small progress over time. Which is the important thing - these exercises are done in progression slowly over time. You don't go into the gym thinking, what can I lift today? You know what you're going to lift specifically and you lift no more than that by increasing slowly over time. It's an uncommon but super logical and sensible way of training which works best for most humans. I like it and I am of course sticking with it. Should anything happen to Brett's gym I'll likely take these ideas into a new gym. And be like, haha I am smarter at this than you are (most likely).
Anyway it's a bit of an experiment really, I'm just giving it a go to see how it works for me and so far I've definitely noticed some benefits:

  • Better mental health - fewer or smaller "bumps" which I have experienced in the past
  • Better ability to walk up hills (like the one near my house)
  • Even calmer mood (on top of my regular meditation)
  • More concentration! I've been better able to concentrate at work and get more stuff done during the day. Which is pretty awesome.
  • Slightly better on my electric bike when going up hills (like the Tasman bridge)

For those in Hobart, and are looking for a different gym that may work better with these features, look up Little Jim Gym on Facebook. He's only taking a small number of people on tentatively, and is very particular about his clients and members. If you're not sticking to it he'll tell you to go elsewhere. But I think if you can stick with it the benefits are pretty great over the long term. I have to wonder where I'll be in 12 months or so from now if I do stick with it. I might be a different person!

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