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When cheaper may not necessarily be better….

A little posting primer- http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/health-4-you/2012/jun/19/7/report-la-fitness-to-purchase-lifestyle-family-fit-ar-417832/

Im kind of torn. I recently found out  that my gym Lifestyle Family Fitness was purchased by the Megagym La Fitness. I love my gym and my workouts there are a big part of the reason that my running has improved, that many PR’s have fallen, and that I am a stronger, fitter, runner than I was when I started my running journey last year.

At first I found this move to be surprising simply because I had never in and of itself considered LFF a “smaller gym”. The club I train/exercise in is located in Lutz (Fla) and is fairly new  with state of the art facilities. They have a lot of other locations of varying qualities throughout the area.  On a local level LFF is a big name and although I kind of new they were not huge nationally (non-existent practically) I figured they were just a big money regional chain. Long story short, I admit to not realizing that LA Fitness is a monster compared to it.  A ginormous national chain.

I enjoy my current gym and it the programs it offers, do I really want to change that?

My next reaction was to go with the mood of the many talented fitness instructors who currently work at my gym. They hate the switch, are scared by it, and many are directly opposed to it. With good reason too. LFF uses Les Mills Style Fitness Classes (Rpm or Spin, Body Pump, CX Worx) which they are trained on, and have really absorbed and developed into a solid fitness system. LA Fitness refuses to use Les Mills programs. This worries me, because I am a big fan of these programs for a list of reasons

Less Mills programs are consistent and effective. I would not have become a strong runner without them.

1) Consistency– No matter what time or what club location you take your RPM or Pump class it is basically the same. The guideline of the workout is set and you determine your level of involvement. You know an rpm class is going to be 45 minutes of hard work featuring 3 incredibly difficult heavy working tracks. You know its going to be a great interval workout. It doesnt matter if you take the class at 6 pm in Brandon or at 5:45 am in Lutz. It is the same workout guideline. Same goes for any class. Body Pump is going to be a full body, muscle group by muscle group workout. A body pump instructor cant just decide to leave out muscle groups. That isnt how the class works. Everyone is on the same page, everyone knows the rules. The workout level is on you.

2) Continuity- Les Mills classes work in conunction with each other. Body Pump/Spin are a popular pairing at my gym as as Body Pump/Body Combat. I enjoy RPM +, Pump, and CX Worx as a mega cross training workout on Saturdays. It hits my whole body, gets my corss training in, and Im done in 2:30. Guaranteed every saturday. Also, the same basic premise meets all the classes. A warmup, several tracks of varying intensity/purpose and a cool down. You can try something new and basically come in with a understanding of what will be going on.

3) Results- Stick with the classes consistently, and increase the intensity of your workouts within the guideliens and you will see results. RPM was big in the final weight loss that put in my running shape. Pump and Cx Worx have most certainly helped me lean out and make me a stronger runner.  I know people their who have gotten great results from the intense cardio workout of Bodycombat. It pays off.

4) Development- While these classes seem formulaic, the opportunity to progress is there. On your own, you can find ways to increase the intensity of all your workouts. Within the program they are constantly tinkering with new moves, new arrangements, new music, and other ways to keep you fit.

5) Instructors- I have been fortunate. I have passionate, engaging, and talented instructors. They have taken the Less Mills Formats and run with it, and inspired me to great results.

LA Fitnesses offers their own program for sure, but will they match the approach seen here? Seems like it will be hit or miss. Get a great instructor one day and you will have a great class, get a an unispired one and you will have an “eh” workout. Im usually a person who likes individuality and variety in all things. In this case, I prefer the consistency of the LES Mills approach. In this case the one size fits all kind of does it to me. Im regimented about my workouts and I dont want them to be wasted by poor class structure, inconsistent  teacher performance, or junk classes.  In short -to me- loss of Les Mills classes represents a huge loss.

LA is a huge uber gym that would doubtless have all the equipment I need, but can that make up for what I will lose?

So what do I get in return? Access to bigger LA Fitness clubs with courts and pools is certainly cool. However the biggest difference is price. My membership at LFF costs $50 a month with spin classes and all club access. I count it as a valuable fee every month. LA will be cheaper. From all the research I have done, and all the people I have talked to the LA membership is in fact- far cheaper. Like anywhere between S25-40 for the same services I get at LFF right now. No extra for group classes like I currently pay. That much cheaper a month is eye raising to me. Its money to put into my running or my waning social life. It is money I may need for a new pair of shoes or to cover my never ending variety of “Random annoying s***” that happens ” problems.

Is it worth it though? Lots to consider. Is it worth many of my fitness instructors departing? Is it worth the outside chance that one of the clubs I use being shut down? Is it worth dealing with the hassle of a big switch? On one hand I like my routine. I like the way my fitness is headed right now. I like that my gym is helping me become a much better runner/athlete. I enjoy the programs that LFF currently has thoroughly. I dont like messing with productive consistency. But, well, 15 bucks a month is 15 bucks a month? So- Is it worth it? I honestly dont know.  I love what I have now, but close minded negativity is stupidity. Especially when it comes to money. We will see

LA’s big advantage is that is cheaper, beyond that I will reman a healthy skeptic about what is going on.

According to most sources it will be thirty days or so before anything significant changes anyway. This gives me time to chew on it and focus on my July 4th race where I am aching to smash my 10k PR.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy  Your Workout. Enjoy Your Day :0

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Wish List Wednesday.. Night in and Night Out

This Wish List Wednesday focuses on things that should be taking place at night, first in general and then in my life.

My running wish….

I wish there were more nighttime races….

Set Up-  Nighttime Competition

If you have read any of my previous postings, you know Im in something of a race purgatory about a finding a distance longer than a 5k to run until July. It is really frustrating. I get why. Daytime in Florida is just too warm to even consider hosting a race. However, why not try a race at nighttime? One of the best races I have ever experienced is the July 4th Midnight Run and a lot of it was because of the experience of running at night. It was a cool gimmick, but in reality it worked out well for a host of reasons. A predictable Florida thunderstorm had cooled the night off, and although it was not cold, it certainly was not unbearably hot for  10k. So why dont more locations offer 5, 10, or 15ks at night in the Summer down here? I get that the incovneince and technical aspects to setting up a course is probably what precludes this from ever happening. Still, I think if a company were to put together a “Late Night Weekend Racing Series” over the summer in a few different locales, they would clean up and find a willing racing community

This is a great race they run at midnight every July 4th in Dunedin, Fl

The Ideal Wish- Moonlight Madness Racing Series

That there were 9 or 10 races over the summer that took place during the convenient hours of weekend nights. That instead of having to get up early, drag myself up with some caffeine (at cost) and drive drearily to my next race; I could go through the course of my day and be ready for my night time 10k. That I could pop over after work for a little night ttime 5k, 10 k on a Friday evening like I am doing for the Crazy Sombrero. That I could sign up for the newly created “Late Night Fun Run Series” or “Moonlight Madness Racing Series”, and get a reduced price to complete a set of after the sun comes down styled 10ks. That I could experience that unique buzz you get from completing a night time race and then head out for drinks or a movie or a chat with friends afterward

Running at night is a whole different kind of experience, and I mean that in a good way.

The Reality- Some, but not enough

The area is not completely devoid of night time races. The Oldsmar 5k which is famous locally for its connection to a local bar/microbrewery is run at night and trumpets the fact that it is. The Crazy Sombrero 5k in New Port Richey is also run at night, and I think that there is one more that doesnt come to mind at the moment. It is not enough for me. There should be a whole bunch. Nighttime races would probably present something of a logistical nightmare as far as working with townships, communities, and local businesses to set them up. Plus there are other factors like the social and drinking nature of people during the weekends. But their are also plenty of benefits to night time running. Due it in a smart location and runners will stay and frequent the location and spend money. Im willing to bet packet pickup would be more pleasant with everyone alert and more tolerably awake. Plus you might get a chance to involve the runner who cant make it for those morning runs in some competitive races.  Besides, as difficult as it may be, Im sure that “race-able” routes can be found.

Disney has added a "scary" nighttime race, but I need something closer and cheaper

The Possible- Pub Run Saves Again

The Fitniche Pub Run on Thursday night again is my answer here. In the absence of a night time race, I can use this enjoyable experience for whatever I chose. It is the same route every week,  so I can treat it as a clocked race. Plus they frequently have racing deals or promotions going on the store that are fun to check out. Afterwards I can pop over and frequent the local bookstore or head out to Brass Tap for a good hard cider. Besides that, I want to try to do more nighttime running on my own. Right now I run solely in the early mornings, and afternoons. I know safe routes that are runnable late at night, and it would be a good change of a pace to just randomly run post 10 pm. Get that night time buzz on my own. And at no cost of course.

This Pub Run 5k is becoming useful to me

Now onto my nutrition wellness wish…

I wish.. I was a better sleeper

Set Up- Never get enough

My year of student teaching and college in general destroyed my sleeping habits. I never really addressed them until they blew up hugely and dangerously in my face during a trip to Greece several years ago. Back then the problem was the same but different. I wasnt getting enough sleep. Back then I wasnt getting enough sleep because I wasnt eating right, wasnt getting enough exercise and had a horrid anxiety problem. I simply could not fall asleep. That is not the problem anymore. I could put my head down on the desk and pass out right now. Nowadays I am not getting enough sleep because my days are packed the brim to keep me focused, I make poor choices late at night, and because I dont get refreshing sleep on weekends. Too much caffeine, and too long of a commute also contribute to my current sleep dificulties. It has not effected my running yet. I know it will though, the more competitive I get and the deeper I get into this more focused training thing. I need to get more sleep, so that Im not lethargic during my non running workouts, my drives, and at my job. I just cant seem to figure it out and it is costing me tons in caffeine

Yay for sleeping comfortably like a fat, lazy, cat

The Ideal Wish- Magnificent 7

7 hours of sleep is the ideal to me. Whenever I get a full 7 hours of sleep, I feel completely refreshed the following day for whatever I need to do- Running, spinning, driving, couching, working, etc. 8 is nice once in a while, but 7 seems to be that magic number. I wish I could get that magic number more often than once every 3 weeks. To get 7 hours of nice, restful, sleep would be heavenly. It would also save me tons of money on what would I not spend on caffeine products to get me awake and energetic

The Reality- Not so Fab 5

I average about 5 hours of sleep on weekdays and maybe 6 on weekends. When I base build on Sundays, the weekend number goes down down down. Why? The long commutte both ways means the only way for me to integrate a hard running workout in the schedule is do to it at 5 am in the morning. My busy day including weight training, multiple nights of capoeira a week, and other items I am working on-  have cluttered my week a ton. On many nights, its 9:30, 10 or 11 before I get a chance to relax at my place. Not wanting to deprive myself of some healthy relaxing personal “whatever” time, I stay up too late and maybe end up with 5 hours sleep before my next day begins. On Friday nights if I am not being social (most nights) I want to capitalize on my free evening time so I try to stay up and get a lot done around the house, when I should be headed to slumber land early. On Saturdays when I should be sleeping in and enjoying a slight rest day, I get so bored I go on a cross training tirade of 3 hours consecutively. This requires me to get up early to get started. So I lose sleep and buy more caffiene to get me going. Sunday is my huge workout so again sleep gets lost.

Why not nap to make up sleep? On weekdays this is an impossiblity. On the weekends I have tried more of  it of  late but it is difficult to sustain for some reason and the few hours of sleep I may get are not restful. Bottom line, is I am not logging enough hours of sleep.

8:13? Yeah right

The Possibility- Building it in

Much like tapering in running, or slow base building. I will try to bring more sleep into the equation in general. Aim for an hour more a week, and a hour more a weekend to start with. This will require an initial acumulation of my weekend sleep total and habits to get a firmer number. Then I can see where I can throw in the hour, whether it be slight change over the course of several days,  or just one night where dedicate myself to 10:30 lights out. I need to develop a sleep plan and execute it in the same way I do with a workout schedule. I also need to start taking more rest days. Both will help me feel refreshed naturally.

Once again the caveat to this is that my living situation may change drastically in the next few months, so everything might need to be reorganized. When I undergo that change, sleep will definitely be something I have an immediate plan for so I can hit the ground running the following year.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday- Cross Training and Cross Culture Cuisine

This week’s Wish List Wednesday, has me wishing for that ideal instrument for some hardcore cross training and for some extra dough to experiment with cross cultural cusine…

This week’s running/fitness wish is…

I wish I had a road bike……

Set Up-  How to cross train best?

One of the most popular conversations among runners is how they best find their exercise when they are not running. Weird huh? We spent so much time talking about running, and actually running that the flip side of that experience becomes almost as crucial. What do you do on days when you just cant run or need a break from running but still want a workout? There are tons of answers to this X training  question from p90x to yoga, from water aerobics to rock climbing- everyone has their thing. I cross train a variety of ways – using group fitness at my gym, the row machine, and my punching bag at home. There is one more thing I would desperately like to do to be able to cross train effectively though. While all of those options keep me fit and strong, there is a simpler solution that could provide a more natural open air workout and still have me prepared for my next run successfully. Cycling. Cycling is routinely described by runners, fitness experts, and the like as the most effective form of cross training for runners. I would love to get into cycling. One big problem. No bike. New bikes are ridicuously expensive, and used bikes are still “out of my league” costly.

I would love to be able to add this to my cross training routine on a weekly basis.

The Ideal Wish- Just ride away

I would love to be able to use Saturdays (my biggest cross training day) day to just grab my bike and gear and go for an extra long ride of who knows how many miles. I would love on long workout days to be able to flush out the legs with a short ride. I would love to be able to run in the morning on those hot hot hot Florida days, but still enjoy the outside in the afternoon with a spin on the bike. I would love to be able to take my bike out to a short sprint triathlon and try it once or twice and see how it would do. I would love to be able to join a group ride for a little bit and too relax and settle in to meet some new people. I would love to be able to use my bike to make me a well rounded athlete, and therein a stronger runner.

I couldnt tell you if this is a really good cycle or not, but I would love it have it

The Reality-  Nothing “only” about $200

I dont have one and I cant afford one. Everyone acknowledges that the price of a nice new bike/cycle is incredibly expensive, but many like to suggest to me purchasing a used bike. “You can find a used one for only $200” is a popular quote I have heard from people. Right, just two hundred dollars. Yeah thats realistic. If by realistic you mean totally not existing in reality. That doesnt even begin to cover the oost of helmet, clothes, and other gear.

Right now I have to be content with the ocassional neighborhood spin on my parents road bike and the copious amount of spinning I do at my gym. I love to spin, I love the workout, the energy, and the camaraderie. Im no fool, I get its not cycling but it is all I have right now to get a cycle style workout. Many cyclists dismiss it as “aerobics on a bike” which is fair, but it serves its purpose. Besides most spinners dont necessarily view it as cycling. Instead they see it as good HIIT training and an acceptable substitute.

Im an avid spinner, do it several times a week and really enjoy it

The Possibility- Ride it until it is mine

I dont see much movement on this one. Ill keep spinning as long as I am a member of my gym. I honestly have terrific spin instructors who make each class an enjoyable experience and a hard workout so I am always happy to take those classes. I guess I will definitely make an effort to ride my parents road bike a little bit more, maybe take it out to the nearby park with its loads of trails to become a more seasoned rider. I honestly do think that if I kept riding it more and more, they would probably grow tired of it and just cede it to me since they barely ride it anyway.

Now onto my nutrition wish…..

I wish I could experiment with my more global cuisine…

Set up- Global variety is good

To me one of the tenets of a healthy eater is that they are varied and experimental. No matter how many calories you count, you really shouldnt eat the same things over and over again. You need to broaden your horizons, eat a variety of flavors, dishes, and food products. That way you give yourself more options to eat healthy dishes and avoid getting into a eating rut. Eat the same foods over and over (no matter how healthy) and you get bored with your day to day diet and you are more likely to find easy unhealthy options to satisfy that variety. Open up your palette to the world, and your options to eat healthy and strong are almost unlimited.Unscientific yes, but I honestly believe this. Personally,  I would love to be able to do exactly that. Tampa may not be the most cultural of cities, but it does have a wide variety of ethnic restaurants that I would love to sample. The problem is I have little extra cash to eat out, and not many friends interested in experimenting

They serve this at a recommended Vietnamese place in Tampa. Sooooooo want to try

The Ideal Wish- One new place a week

I would love to be able to go out to a new exotic restaurant once a week and try a brand new dish or new ethnic cuisine. I would love to go out with a friend or family to that Ethiopian style place in South Tampa, the Spanish place in downtown Tampa, or one of the Middle Eastern places that dot the area. I would love to be able to go back and try that Vietnamese place  or Korean BBQ I had many years ago. I would love to be able to sample new cuisines the way my parents sample new wines or my sister samples new beers. I would love to be able to embrace the global food possibilities that exist around me.

This is a Middle Eastern style place I would very much like to try in Tampa... mmm kabobs

The Reality- Be grateful for what you can get

Not much in the budget for eating out. My dining out experiences on my own are limited to the occasional trip to the exotic locale known as “Subway”.  Truly out there as you can see. Im not deprived, I do get to eat out quite a bit because my parents often invite me to their functions, occasional dinners out,  or treat me to dinner at their club. However there  is nothing new at these places. Members of my family are consistent eaters, they find a few tasty restaurants and they stay there. They dont really want to experiment with most things new or wild. This is not an indictment on them, it is a solid proactice. After all if you find a tremendous BBQ place like Leroy Selmons in Tampa, why deviate from that? If the menu at your club serves terrific chicken parm or well prepared fish, why do you need to go anywhere else? I get the mentality even if I dont share it.  Besides in my case, beggars cannot be choosers. My parents can be too generous when treating me to things. When it comes to meals out, I just shut up and thank them and enjoy whatever Im getting.

Nothing wrong with Leroy's, I love it, I just want to expand a little

The Possibility- 2 Choices

A couple of things are possible here:

1) Supermarkets- Find the ethnic foods isle, and every week pick out a diferent food/product that I would like to try from a different part of the globe. This could be made as ultra cheap as I like it and is massively convenient.

2) Farmers Markets- Local farmers markets are great places to just stroll around and see what fresh and local fruits, veggies, breads, cakes, honeys, jams– err you name it  – is available. Most farmers markets around here also feature food stands from a variety of different ethnic areas. Generally speaking you could probably sample one or 2 cuisines for right about ten dollars and not break the bank. Next time the one near me comes back, Im trying the Ethiopian place.

Maybe at the next farmers market, Ill get to taste the flavor my friend has been raving about

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :O

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