Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hit me with your Gythmystick

Monday 16th August – Gymstick®

I quite like lasagne. But I don’t love it. I think dogs that are always happy regardless of how poorly you treat them are kind of annoying. But I don’t punt them. Teddy bears are great, but I don’t have an unhealthy attraction to one.

One point, however, on which Garfield and I completely agree, is our attitude to Mondays. Mondays are hard enough for many people. They involve getting up after two days of not having to get up, and going to work after two days of not having to go to work. On top of this, though, I add getting up an hour early to prepare for the gym.

On a normal day, getting ready for work is very much a trial and error process for me. I will put some clothes on, assess myself, and work out what needs to be done. Then I will put some more on, and see what remains. For example, something may not feel quite right, and I’ll realise I haven’t put a belt on. Or shoes. I’ll sometimes go out to the car three times before I remember my phone, wallet, keys and puffer. (It will come as no surprise that I have gone to work with my shirt inside out, and “mirror free” days are the norm for me. Getting to work and realising I left my phone, my glasses or even my laptop at home is not that unusual.)

This staged approach to dressing, however, does not work on Mondays. On Mondays I put my gym clothes on, and then have to pack my work stuff. This means I need to be together enough to know what I need to pack before I am fully awake. I need to be a really together guy. In fact, I need to be a really amazingly together guy. So it’s no co-incidence that I also need to know where my towel is.

I don’t think I have ever turned up exactly on time for a gym session.

Regardless, I got there this morning, and found I hadn’t missed anything. Today’s session was all about the Gymstick®. This is a device that is a stick, with a big elastic band on either end, that you hook over your feet. Now the Gymstick®, as anyone who wants to sell you one will tell you, can be used for any part of your exercise routine. If you are doing a warmup, you can jog around, while holding the Gymstick®. If you are doing a post exercise stretch you can use the Gymstick® to lean on. It’s really that versatile. (Of course you can do those things without the Gymstick®, but at $135 a pop, you really need to justify the purchase.)

But where it comes into its own, of course, is while actually exercising. Now for all my snark and sarcasm, I must admit that it certainly felt like a workout. In my last post I mentioned that with Gym Buddy M’s encouragement we had, on the previous Friday, concentrated our efforts on working our shoulder muscles. Needless to say my shoulders were still quite stiff this morning. Well can you guess what muscles many of the Gymstick® exercises worked? Exactly. Not very long into the routine, as we were stretching our Gymstick®s over our heads, I was shooting daggers at Gym Buddy M. I wanted to say something to him, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have heard over the sound of my shoulder muscles screaming “please, for the love of all things holy, make it stop!”.

You know that thing where something is so terrible that when you do something even only slightly less terrible that it feels like a holiday?

Well eventually we stopped doing shouldery things and started do ab things, and it was a sweet sweet relief.

At one point before the abs, though, we were doing squats, and I noticed that my left knee was quite sore. So when the instructor said “We’re going to do some lunges now. Does anyone have any knee problems?” I, of course, said “Yes.”

Many, I would guess at least half, of the people in the room laughed. Of course, I know why they laughed. It’s all about perceptions. I am “wacky Rob”. The class clown. The guy who always has a zany comment about something. So when I say “yes, actually I am in pain” then that’s obviously funny. Right? Still. It cut me deep. I, quite snappishly, said “thanks for your support, guys”. Oddly enough the lunges didn’t hurt my knee anywhere near as much as the squats did.

I should talk, at least briefly, about the music. Gymstick® is not just about a stick with wobbly bits on it. It also has a CD that the guy plays with really dramatic 80s style music. There was something that sounded like an outtake from Europe’s Final Countdown, we had Technotronic (ftg Felly) with Pump Up The Jam and, surprisingly, we had Cameo’s Word Up. Over the top of this odd assortment of tunes, though, were various beeps, buzzes and sound effects to let us know when to switch routines. The highlight, though, was the dramatic American voiced countdown at the start of each routine. It really felt like the Matterhorn at the show.

At the end of the session the instructor, to my huge surprise, informed us that if we wanted to buy a Gymstick® we could buy one off him, or come to his Gymstick® training session. I think any time someone extols the virtue of something and then offers to sell it to you, it creates an immediate conflict of interest that destroys any trust you may have had in that person as a reliable source of information. Thankfully, this guy immediately came off as someone who was selling something, so it didn’t really disappoint.

Then we went down to breakfast which was, this week, slightly different. We had muesli with our yoghurt and fruit, and instead of scrambled eggs and tomato, we had poached eggs and mushroom. It was quite nice, and breakfast remains a definite highlight of the day.


  1. It's a good thing you don't speak with a lisp.

    I'm a bit disappointed with you though. When the stick man asked if anybody had knee problems, that was a very clear 'out' and you didn't take it.

    Maybe you're turning into a gym junkie without realising it?

  2. hey,
    go easy on 'the stick' I actually own one of these and think its great. although it has the stench of the ab thingy from D Gen, I have a "travel" version that I take away on work trips and have actually used in a motel room. (Is it just me or do I sound like a "demtel" add. And I bet - despite the conflict of interest you actually had more fun on this workout than anything previous. is that right?
    anyway, speaking of conflict of interest, my wife sells the Gymsticks, let me know if you want one, special family discount - cheaper for cash.

  3. Hmmm.
    You haven't really been getting the whole gist of this blog, have you?
    Let's just say that no other post contains the words “please, for the love of all things holy, make it stop!”
    So no, I can't admit that I had more fun on this workout than on any other.
    Having said that, the main reason I hated this one so much was the state of my shoulders going into it.
    The gymstick itself wasn't actually a bad piece of equipment. Versatile, useful, lightweight, adjustable.

    But not fun.

  4. I too possess a gymstick. Being someone who decides about once a month that i 'should get back into exercise and stuff', and randomly does something until i don't like it, I find the gymstick's the thing i can grab and use that doesn't immediately screw my back and make it impossible for me to exercise the next day. It's usually my general inertia which stops me doing that.