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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 Wursday…. Throwaways and Starters

Apologies to the belated post, however Im excited to talk about both of these since they both have been on mind a lot lately. The concept of that throwaway race you just do to well… just do, and the most healthy way to start a meal.

My running wish….

I wish I could run throwaway races…..

Set up-  A host of reasons to race

I read blogs all the time that talk about running a race just for fun, to pace a friend,  or just to take in a new view, etc. You get the idea. Lots of people run races for reasons other than strict competition or to PR. Very often they are bucket list races or small fun races, or even destination races. Furthermore one of the first suggestions for people in a running slump is that they go out and just run a race out of their element and for the sheer enjoyment of it. I find this concept to be awesome. Running for race enjoyment must be fun. Having the ability to complete races as practice, for enjoyment, or to take in a strange locale, or gimmick must be really enthralling. I would love to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge for instance or even the Sarasota 5k that requires you to run entirely on the beach.  I just cant. I can afford few races, and other ones my mother sponsors me for. I run so few races, that to measure my progress they have to be  taken seriously. I wish I could run that simple throwaway race just for kicks, but its not in the budget now.

This would be one of those fun, just do it to do it type races that I cant put on the calendar

The Ideal Wish- Gimmicks, shoelessness, and destinations

I wish that I could run that race for fun. A trail race through the park, a destination halfie, a race with a silly gimmick, or something on my bucket list. Hell, I would even take a regular old 5 or 10k that I could just jog out and see what the pace is as a practice. I wish that every race I ran was not a huge competition, that I didnt have to gear it up every time I toed the line or the gun went off. I wish could take more time to appreciate the scenery of some of the beautiful races around me when I run them.  Instead of missing them staring at my watch for pace because I want to PR or keep a good pace. I wish I could jog a 5k barefoot just to try it out. I wish I could go out and enjoy a race beyond sinking my teeth into that fierce competition. I wish I could run lots of throwaway races and get to experience a wider world and variety of running experiences.

I would love to visit the Outer Banks and run this race, it just looks so cool. It would be my first destination race if I had a chance

The Reality-  Competition all the time

Every race must be a competition for me because every dollar is precious to me. When my mother sponsors me in a race, I dont feel and obligation to run a PR but I feel a need to run well and run hard. I dont want to stop at every rest station and see whats around me, or snap a quick picture from my phone. It is an opportunity to race and I dont get a lot of the them. An opportunity to measure my progress against the clock, to compete and I need to respect that. I wish I had more opportunities to expand what I can do as far as type, variety and intensity of race- but I dont. The reality of my financial situation doesnt allow for that extra race or fun race. Im hopeful that it will down the line-right now- I have to be ready on race day. I owe it to myself.

Im running this cheap, tiny 5k, but it might be my only race for a while so I wont be enjoying whats around me. Ill be looking for a new 5k Pr.

The Possibility- Local fun runs

Absent funding, I am going to plan on using locally organized fun runs through fitness stores and groups to fill my need for that kind of enjoyment running. A local store by me Fitnichhe, sponsors a 5k run through an outdoor mall. Last week there had to be a hundred people there. After the run, people walked over to a local pub for some beer. While I didnt drink, the short run was fun and the time spent with other runners was likewise enjoyable. On the weekends they sponsor a trail run which is becoming popular and I may check out. I prefer to train seriously alone, and these runs are free of charge so no need to take them seriously. Better to just chill out and enjoy the people and places that surround me.

My nutrition wish…

I wish that I liked salad…..

Set up- A vegetable fiend, but no saladifying for me

I love veggies. Always have and always will. Even when I was a kid I loved them. When my brothers and sisters refused to eat simple peas and carrots, I would gulp them down by the spoonful. I even liked green beans growing up. Even when I gained serious weight during my college years and after, I still aways ate a lot of vegetables. Since I have made the switch to being a healthier, more focused eater I have expanded my green vocabulary. I now enjoy broccoli, spinach, sweet peas, asparagus, and a little bit of brussell sprouts (when my mother buys them). One vegetable oriented thing I have never been able to enjoy. Salads. I dont dislike salads. I just dont like them that much. They are plain, boring, not filling, and not enjoyable. No matter how many times I am offered a free one before a meal, I turn it down. No matter how many times, I could hit a salad bar, I skip it.  People tell me it is a cheap way to put together a quick meal, and I argue. Why? I just cant get into them.

I would love to be able enjoy a plate of salad for any purpose, but I cant get into it

The Ideal Wish- Want so badly to like these!

I wish that I loved salads. I wish that I prepared them, had them when I went out routinely, and sought out all different types and varieties of them. I wish that I loved lettuce instead of it not filling me and that it didnt taste like green cardboard  to me. I wish enjoy that I could be satisfied by dumping some dressing or cheese on a salad and having it be tasty. I wish I could incorporate as a quick lunch or pre run race snack. I wish that salads filled me up and made me feel good.

I have tried a variety, and found no enjoyment yet

The Reality- Boring and plain

Salads bore me. Salads dont fill me. Salads seem like wasted calories to me. When someone offers me a salad, I want to request a side of vegetables. I dont want to prepare them or buy them, because it seems a lot of effort for something that wont accomplish that much as far as filling me up and fueling them.

The Possibility- Search and discovery

Im still on the hunt for a good salad and very open to suggestions. This one is still in a search and discovery type mode for me. Im hopeful that my palate will expand enough to include lettuce and tomato being yummy to me. I didnt always like broc or spinach and now I love them. Maybe down the line, the crisp flavors of the salad that everyone enjoys will reach my tastebuds. I hope so, salads seem simple, cheap, and easy to make in great variety of flavors and styles.

Have a gift card for this place, maybe I can put together a good salad here

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Gasparilla Half Marathon: Race Beggars Cant Be Race Choosers

I happily ran the Gasparilla Half Marathon this weekend. For those who dont know, The Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa is a series of 4 races over the course of 2 days, and is THE big event when it comes to Tampa running. It was not on my running calendar at all. You see, every time I complete a significant race, I always make it a point to look at upcoming races target a few, make a wishlist, and try to figure out whats next for me.

What I had originally wanted to run

Following the Gainesville Marathon, I did it again. I made my list of races with handy prices next to them. It was far too late to register for the Gasparilla Half so that was not a point of consideration at all. Top on the list was the Dances With Dirt Ultra Race in Dade City which at the time cost only 60$. I thought it was a time to take a step up and make a foray into the ultra race scene, and with a month in between the marathon and the race date, there was enough to get a good long training run or 2 in and do a 50K. I was sure of it. I just didnt have the cash.

Once again I went to my mom, worried she would be frightened by the distance, I tried to slip it in over text. Not so much. She wouldnt do it. Too much too soon. I tried to convince her I could do it and although she conceded that point, she worried about injury and was not going to have it. I felt disappointed in the way a little kid who asks for a toy gets disappointed even though they know dont deserve it. I also felt disappointed in the lack of control I had over the situation. If I had the 60$, it would never had been a conversation. I would have plunked it down and trained up and I would be 3 weeks out from my first ultra race.  But it was out of the question and it gnawed at me, which brings up a larger point.

I hate having to ask my parents for help paying for races. I hate that I just cant run distance races every so often for training or fun like I hear so many other runners say on race day. Although I love to compete, it would be great to not think about that stuff every once a while, but I really cant afford it. I guess mostly,  I hate that I cant just put down $20-25 and get to experience the joy of competing or having fun. Its a lack of freedom, that can be very constraining. Yes I have read the article in a runners magazine which broke down race fees, and it all made sense to me (although I think keener eyes could pare it down some), but I just want dont want my growth as a runner to be stunted by rising race costs. It is not quite at that at level yet, but its heading there.

This time around, I probably was not ready for that 50k anyway. My mother was probably right. She couldnt speak to the specifics of why because she is not a runner, but I knew that I should take more time to build my endurance to get there. Still, that disappointment was there to a big degree. Nobody likes being told no, even when they are wrong to ask in the first place. My disappointment was mollified quite a bit when my mother offered to sponsor me for one more distance race. The Gasparilla Half Marathon.

Th irony is that the Gasparilla Half Marathon was more expensive then the race I was asking her to sign me up for.  Significantly more. Still she felt more comfortable with the distance, and it was a race she knew, so she was willing to pay for it. I understood her logic, however bizarre and largely unspoken. I couldnt say no. Race beggars cant be race choosers. I shut up, happily accepted the offer and tried to wrap my brain around the half marathon that was only a couple of weeks away.

Tampa does an excellent job with this race

I ran Gasparilla early this Sunday morning and destroyed it. My previous half marathon time was 1 hr 42 minutes, and this one I ran in 1 hr and 36 minutes. A pr by more than 6 minutes and a 7:20 pace which was way quicker than I thought it would be. Especially considering how busy the whole weekend had been for me. When somebody helps you out with race fees this generously, it becomes paramount to run your race extra well. I felt no particular pressure or anything, but a different level of happiness is added on that you took advantage of a good opportunity.

Start of the half, crappy weather cleared up before the race began making it a perfect day for a new PR

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day

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