Scaling back


I joined the local health club in 2008, when it first opened. I had never belonged to a health club before. I discovered quickly that I enjoyed it; I liked the feeling of trying to be healthy, and I liked watching cute guys work out in front of the big mirror on the fitness floor.



Now, almost four years later, at $55/month, I’m still there.

I know that’s expensive. But it keeps me anchored there: if I were paying less (WorkOut World charges $10/month!), I wouldn’t go very often, and wouldn’t be very motivated. At a much higher price, I am only too anxious to make good use of my purchase.

I experimented with everything in the place, at first. I tried the circuit machines, but they were too heavy for me (even at very light poundages), and I felt like a wimp. I tried freeweights: same thing. I took some sessions with a trainer, but he was silly and vain and spent most of our time together talking about how wonderful he was.

After a year or so, after much experimentation, I started doing just the treadmill: half an hour, at 4.7 miles per hour, at a 15% elevation. If I set the treadmill for my weight (around 160 pounds) and age (around 55 years old), it comes out to around 500 calories, which is perfect for me.

For three years I’ve kept this up. For the past year or two, I’ve done it maybe five or six times a week.

But lately – with the kidney stones, and my advancing age – I found it a littlelaborious.

So, a few weeks ago, I experimented with the settings. I find that I can still burn 500 calories at 4.0 miles per hour, at an elevation of 15%, in approximately 32.5 minutes.

I don’t sweat as much. My heart rate, which used to go up to 140 or 150, now stays at a more age-appropriate 130. I’m only slightly more bored, because I’m on the machine slightly longer. (I’m usually there in the evening, during “Jeopardy!” / “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” so I manage to keep myself amused.)

But I am slowing down. Noticeably.

Back when I started in 2008/9, I was proud of the fact that I could get my heart rate up to a dangerous 155/minute.

I am not so much proud of this anymore. I think getting my heart rate up to 130 or so is quite sufficient.

(Oh I am getting old.)

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

5 Responses to Scaling back

  1. This is why I keep telling Wally we have to do things like Machu Picchu sooner rather than later!

  2. starproms says:

    How interesting. You have monitored all that and take such an interest. As you are getting older, you see a difference. My goodness, that must be hard to swallow. I too have noticed these differences in my daily life, but I’ve never been to a gym. I wonder if I’d come out of one alive? I’m afraid to try. I admit it. I feel like I must be so unfit that the trainer would say ‘you’re useless’. Give it up before they cart you off to the hospital.
    I do gardening. I walk. I swim. That’s about it. Oh and lately I look after the grandson. It came as a shock when I compared how much younger and fitter I was when I was caring for my own children! I was 22 when I had the first one. I’m 60 now. Bit of a difference.
    I think you should feel very proud that you’ve kept up the training for so long and so well. It shows you have staying power.

    • J do it mostly to keep my weight under control. In 2006 I was well over 200 pounds, and I didn’t think of myself as overweight at all, though (in pictures) I looked like an overstuffed chair. I feel much better at my current weight, and I get sick less often, which is a blessing. And walking on the treadmill is (relatively) easy, compared to what the other people in the health club are doing.

      • starproms says:

        Well that’s very commendable of you Loren. I hope it continues to work for you. I think you’re wise to do the exercises you like and suit you best.

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