Posts filed under ‘gym




It can’t only be Monday

Incorporating barbell squats and deadlifts back into my workout has sent my appetite soaring. It’s not helped by the fact that I’m approaching my pre-menstrual state where carbohydrates to me = what butter is to James Martin. I thought it would be a good opportunity to venture into a copy of Gourmet Nutrition desserts I was sent. I’m liking the idea of chocolate ricotta, 32g of protein, nom nom.

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A medic friend of mine informed me that women shouldn’t do full push ups, and should be on their knees instead. Reason? It causes the uterus to stretch. That is not a joke. This person is definitely training to be a doctor.

Things that don’t cause the uterus to stretch: push ups

Things that do: babies

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A friend of mine recommended a sex shop run by and for women. She also mentioned that they offer you a cup of tea when you visit. I’m intrigued – what kind of tea are we talking about?

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3 comments March 16, 2009

Resistance, ur doing it… already

Scenario I’ve seen before many times. Woman goes to the student gym. She brings a couple of bags with her, containing items such as: gym kit, heavy textbooks, maybe a laptop, stationary, purse, ipod, phone, bag of make up, toiletries, towel et al. This bag could potentially weigh 10+kgs. She goes into the gym, does her routine on the cardio equiptment (as that’s the only way to lose weight – looking good is the only motivation) and then she goes onto her ‘toning’ exercises. She goes and picks up a pair of 1kg dumbbells, and starts doing tricep kickbacks and bicep curls.

After finishing up with her 1kg exercises, she goes back to the changing room, gets ready and hauls her 10+kg bag over her shoulder.

One thing that interests me is that there seems to be very little connection with resistance training and the functional training that many women do on a day to day basis without even realising. A relative of mine has beautifully defined arms, evolved after years of chasing around and picking up active toddlers and children. Despite this, after hearing about the lifting that I do, she warned me against getting, ‘too bulky’ from lifting heavy weights. There seems to be a stop-gap between a bridge that needs a bit of a fix. Maybe that could be one of the answers to get more people, especially women, engaged in the benefits of doing some weight training, regardless of the form that weight comes in.

Or it could be a disaster, and the poor unassuming toddler gets put on a restrictive diet and taken for baby liposuction, in the wake of being the biggest threat behind bulking up.

Recommended reading: Gubernatrix: The Toning Problem

Stumptuous: Things you should not lift

Add comment February 25, 2009

Twisted gym pleasures

The feeling that you’re about to throw up.

The last time I vomited happened in the spring of 1991 (it was that memorable and traumatic) and ever since then I have a huge fear about seeing the contents of digestion in my lap. Bulgarian split squats in a superset with push ups left me with feeling that it was going to happen. The feeling disappeared as soon as I started stretching and I felt wonderful.

Producing more sweat than anyone else in the room

Rahh! Forget glowing, worship the perspiration, kiss my biceps, I am He-Man, see the sweat drip down my forehead! The guys looked on in admiration (NB: this may not have happened) and two yoga girls looked down their noses at me (NB: this definitely happened 😦  )

The inability to walk down steps due to leg shakiness

Nuff said.

Add comment February 24, 2009

Don’t tread on me

I’m quite self-conscious concerning personal space at the gym. This is because travelling on the Tube fills my quota of getting pressed up against a variety of odours and also because it’s not exactly safe to be arse-touching someone in the middle of their squat. In the free-weights area, you normally have to weave your way around or wait while someone is doing their thing, but it’s only for a few seconds and not a big deal.

On Friday I was just about to start doing some dumbbell chest presses, when a guy came along and almost knocked a dumbbell out of my hand with his arse. In a gym, I’d expect most mortals with a sense of gym etiquette would be, “I’m really sorry, didn’t see you/I tripped/I thought I saw a ghost,” because had that dumbbell landed anywhere on my face, I would have let rip once I had recovered from the rhinoplasty.

Instead, he just went about his business with his buddy and they did dumbbell flies only throughout their entire workout, grunting in a manner I’ve seen in various flavours on the labour ward. I couldn’t be bothered to say anything, I figured this is the type of guy who won’t eat fruit because, “OMFG, sugar!” But will happily chow down a tub of Superdoopermaxigainermuscle powder with added dextrose. Fairly certain it wouldn’t have happened if I looked like Oscar De La Hoya.

In the same session, I encountered a PT who was training two guys who were new to the gym. I asked how long they were going to be with the stepper: to my delight, unlike some patrons he didn’t snap/scoff/roll eyes and he told one of the guys with him to take the equipment over to me. The latter was a bit excessive, but I was touched all the same.

I’ve told B that once we have our own house complete with garage, that shall be our home gym. The answer is always,  “But where will the car live?”

The car can graduate to the garage once I can lift it.

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I still have a horrendous case of the DOMS from Friday’s session, and it shocked me when I thought about how much strength I had lost. Some friends of mine run a company which offers pole dancing classes, I’m tempted to try something out a little different, and I think pulling yourself upside down and hanging there using your thighs is a neat little party trick.

1 comment February 22, 2009

C U Next… Wednesday?

Before I started Obs & Gynae I was expecting to be thrown out of the consultation room a lot, or be told in the labour ward that the patient doesn’t want any students. Luckily this didn’t happen and the vast majority of women I saw were happy to have a student present. Come sprog time, I’d definitely consider having a student midwife or doctor present; I’m the type of person that does better with continuity (and lots of attention), and in the last delivery I followed, I was there from the beginning to the end: in that time, there were four midwives handing over.

It was also nice to feel useful for once (Protestant ethic, much?) whether it was helping out the anaesthetist (who very kindly did some one-on-one teaching with me), fetching towels, changing linen, doing basic observations, fanning down the mother (and father) during transition, dressing the baby, getting it latched on and making cups of tea. Some of my collegues were really offended by stuff like this – they wanted to see the labour and deliveries and how dare anyone ask a medical student to make a cup of tea – which I guess is fair enough if this isn’t the speciality you want, and you just want to get to grips with the basics. I like to feel useful, simple. My grandmother constantly told me as a child in Italian, “Do your schoolwork, do your homework, then come and help with the housework.” Maybe it’s less of the Protestant ethic and more of the Italian Catholic grandma factor.

Anyway, the reason I really wanted to post was that seeing a lot of women in that context made me realise that it was about time I stop using every excuse in the book in terms of keeping everything tidy in the vicinity. Before I met B, I used to live about 7 minutes away from Selfridges, and behind the store was a rather awesome beauty salon which did really good waxing. I’d see Otylia, a Polish lady in her 50s who could get me done in about 10 minutes while discussing matters concerning her boyfriend. After meeting B and moving to Sarf London rather quickly, out of sight and out of mind, I forgot about it. It came to August and I decided to venture into Clapham to find somewhere cheaper for the Hollywood treatment.

I found a salon and waited in the rather odd paper pants they had given me. To my naive horror, I then realised that the wax was going to be done with strips and not the hot wax I had been used to. Needless to say that pain was excruciating and the hair wasn’t coming away well enough, cue more wax and more stripping. The woman who was waxing me told me halfway through that she was very inexperienced with Brazilian waxing and that they offered the waxes as they knew they were very popular among women. Probably not the kind of thing you should tell a client. The wax itself took about 40 minutes, half of the hair was still there (putting my narcissistic hat on, after waxing I would always touch myself more, not even for masturbation, it just felt ever so nice.) by which time I resolved not to look at the damage for at least a fortnight. Suffice to say, it was enough to put me off having it done for a good [whisper] 2 years [/whisper]

Recently, I decided to have a little image makeover, starting with my cunt (not the kind of feature you’d see on Phil and Fern). A very lucky find bought me to Holborn where a very cheerful Essex girl defuzzed me in 10 minutes with minimal fuss and pain. I spent the rest of the evening at home with my hands down my pants. In addition to this,  I have been thinking about getting a vertical hood piercing, although I’m still umming and ahhing over it. It’s an area I consider to be pretty and pink – do I want a piece of metal going through there?

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After a very painful recovery from last week’s gym session, I had mustered up the courage to go back to start with Turbulence Training for abs. Cept I had forgotten that my gym was closed this week to install new cardio equipment. Which is fair I guess, they had put in new weight equipment last year. Somehow I can’t see kettlebells on the agenda anytime soon. Think I may as well bite the bullet at and get some of my own.

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Baking my own bread is proving dangerous. I’m making a wholemeal loaf later on, and made a lovely onion and pancetta focaccia on Tuesday. It had disappeared by Wednesday, and I can’t blame B or the flatmate for that.

Add comment February 19, 2009

“Accrington stanley? Who are they?!”

I don’t live on copious amounts of milk, but I have decided it’s probably a good idea to self-wean off cow’s breastmilk. Reasons for this are two-fold:

1) I get very bloated and gassy when drinking it

2) I have weird fetishy images in my head regarding people dressed in rubber, odd trance music and cows udders.

I’m not a huge fan of soy milk, so I ventured out and bought some hazelnut milk, and almond milk (the latter at the bottom of my cupboard for now). I quite enjoyed the hazelnut milk, it’s very sweet and the texture was smooth. Bit of an odd aftertaste, but I’m hooked for now. Even better, B tried the milk and didn’t like it, which is good for me as I’ll actually have milk to drink from now on, and it won’t be drunk straight from the pack 🙂

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I’m avoiding the gym this January as I cannot face the crowds of resolutionaries. I know it keeps my gym membership fee low, but it’s too much to bear. I have decided to try the 100-push-up challenge, as my medical school are sending me to what feels like Zone 25 for the first 4 weeks of Obs/Gynae anyway, and it’ll give me something to do besides work.

Add comment January 6, 2009

Back from the dead again

I have been negligent in my blogging  for what feels like forever. Studies, exams and such and such. A friend of mine convinced me that Year 4 would be, “far more chilled out,” and in many respects it is, but not at all on the examination front. I passed after all the drama, and had a couple of days to both reflect and cringe on my OSCE performance.

One of the OSCE stations was to speak to a woman who had recently had a baby and was ‘feeling very low’. I did my suicide assessment and wanted to check that she wasn’t having a post-natal psychosis. Thinking back to the green Psychiatry Finals book I had been using, one of the questions suggested was to ask if the woman thinks her baby is evil. It started off well, “Do you think that…” and then I stopped mid-sentence worrying I was about to be pink-slipped for asking such an inappropriate question, so in my panic, I tried to fluffy up my answer a bit, and in the mist of panic, my question ended up as, “…your baby is trying to tell you that… you are incompetent… as a mother?” The actress looked at me in a rather quizzical way and then gave me a look similar to the scowl of Jeremy Kyle, “My baby is 4 months old, how could she possibly do that?!” Ooops. My superego is manically screaming, “YOU IDIOT!”

One of the things I really don’t like about OSCEs is the close proximity to you and other medics. It’s impossible to not hear what’s going on around you, so as some of the other examiners walked around, they looked at me strangely, because at my rest stations, I was sat with my hands clasped to my ears. This particular site did not give us any sweets or chocolates at the rest stations either. Top London medical school, yeah, I’m feeling that.

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My fitness regimehas been put on a brief hiatus, but it hasn’t been as long as the last time I was having exams, which was pleasing. A friend of mine recommended I come and do some Yoga with her, so I thought I’d give it a go as it couldn’t possibly hurt to improve my flexibility (I seem to have very little).

So far, I’m enjoying the classes and it is much easier to switch off. My flexibility is getting better, be it very slowly. I’m hoping that the breathing techniques will cross over to when I lift weights, as I sometimes forget to breathe (bit foolish when you’re shifting something heavier than yourself) and I feel more comfortable on my feet in terms of my sense of balance.

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B and I have been together for almost 3 years. We mark our anniversary from when we met as opposed to any ‘official date’ (I can’t remember), but I’m unclear as to whether we met on Dec 31st or Jan 1st. I believe it was the latter. Because medical school eats up my life and we don’t get much time together by ourselves, we go abroad for the new year. This year we’re off to Barcelona. I can’t wait for several reasons: the food, getting to speak Spanish, food again and copious amounts of hotel sex.

I use the excuse of working very hard for my exams to blow a load (is there a pun in there somewhere) at both Coco De Mer  and Agent Provocateur (wot recession?) While I can’t justify spending almost a grand on a stainless steel vibrator, I thought a tenner for a feather tickler was reasonable. I wanted to buy several books on the subject of spanking, but I thought I’d leave that for my 25th birthday next year.

We shall also be eating here om nom nom. Flatmate who is busting his guts as a junior sous wasn’t impressed that a chef with no previous professional kitchen experience can land a Michelin star a few years down the line. I didn’t realise the restaurant had a Michelin star, I just saw pictures of the food and started salivating.

Add comment December 19, 2008

Gym manners 101: putting your weights back

It never ceases to amaze me how lacking in manners some people can be. I’m not exactly foaming at the mouth a la Daily Hate, nor am I reminiscing over how the Golden Age is over (I don’t think it ever existed) but… I often wonder whether my gym would benefit from those ‘A little thought from everyone’ posters often seen on London’s public transport.

Whatever people’s goals are at the gym; everyone is there for a primary purpose – to use the facilities. A workout can go much more smoothly if everyone cooperates and work together for the environment they’d always like to see when they go in.

This didn’t happen yesterday. I walked into the freeweights area and was stunned. Discarded dumbbells – everywhere. Pieces of tissue wiped with sweat left on the floor. Both Z-bars loaded and not in use, just shoved at the back. And the icing on the cake? Two guys deadlifting with the Olympic bar – they then unload the bar, leave it in the middle of the floor and walk off to do some ball work.

I was fuming. It’s really dangerous, especially if a dumbbell rolls in your direction and you can’t see it while walking. Not only that – and while I doubt this is the primary intention – the arrogance sets forth the message that, “Your workout isn’t that important, so I’ll let my laziness cut into your time while you tidy up for me.”

I went and spoke about it to one of the gym managers. He agreed with me and said that people tend to tidy up more when the gym team are around cleaning up. I said that it shouldn’t be part of their jobs to clean up after others. He said if I see it, I should just tell one of the team. Again, I don’t think it needs to be like a school environment ‘telling’ on other people. My boyfriend’s old gym had a poster up saying: “SEX! Now that we have your attention, please put your weights back!”

While I hate confrontation, I think I’ll just brave it and say something. I’ve done it before and it’s worked, it’ll give me more peace about it than I had the other day (although saying that – my anger led me to have an absolutely blinding workout!) It’s just a shame that I have to in the first place.

If that doesn’t work, the clean + press using the offending person as the barbell is looking better all the time.

Add comment October 30, 2008

Too big for words!

Poor Madonna. Not the best time to be her is it? Naturally as a woman, the onus falls on her and her lifestyle ultimately being responsible for her marriage breakdown, whether it’s her religious views, career or even her physique! She joins the ranks of Angelina (home wrecker), Posh (too focused on her career than husband) and Heather (gold digger).

I didn’t intend on talking about her upcoming divorce, but I thought I would home in on something that has started to grate my nerves in recent months. I’m always happy to talk to women – including perfect strangers about weight training as I think it has so many benefits as well as making one look quite buff when naked, but no sooner mention the word dumbbell and out comes the almost conditioned response:

“But I don’t want to look like Madonna!”

I guess what they mean when they say this is that they do not want a physique like Madonna. Which is fair enough, she’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. What baffles me is the assumption that by lifting something heavier than a pencil, one will end up pumped like Arnie. Perhaps it’s a mixture of both ignorance and fear; somehow we’re programmed to believe in many walks of life you can get something for nothing. This however, doesn’t work in the gym unless you’re abusing various substances.

My point is, to build a body like Madonna; you have to train like Madonna, you have to eat like Madonna, you have to rest like Madonna, you have to work like Madonna. If you train like you’re bumbling along nicely on the cross-trainer while reading Heat magazine then go home via Subway, don’t be too surprised when you don’t look like the fitness model you wanted to be in 6 weeks.

Building a muscular physique can be incredibly difficult as a woman. It takes time, dedication, focus and some sweaty bloody hard work. Coming into the gym, lifting a 1kg dumbbell and then going home holding a handbag heavier than anything you’ve worked out with doesn’t make sense to me, but challenge any of these people, and there appears to be an assumption that they’re somehow so special that they work differently to all physiological processes and will pack the muscle on. Perhaps I’m being quite harsh as I knew sweet sod all about weights before I started, but there comes a time where the logical processes need to be shifted up a gear.

Being ‘too big’ is a spectrum anyway. What is ‘too big’? Some people consider Madonna too big, some will say she’s too small. Musculature comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will please everyone (not that it’s the purpose to anyway). Some people dedicate an awful lot of time and energy to become the way they look, and even if you don’t like the way they do, perhaps it’s worth applauding their commitment than a putdown of, “Eww, I don’t want to look like that!” Maybe once we start appreciating how difficult it can be then the mass panic of, “I don’t want to look like Madonna!” will stop. Or maybe not.

Recommended reading:

Gubernatrix: Why do women still avoid the free weights room?

Gubernatrix: Why lift weights

Stumptuous: Lies in the gym

Stumptuous: Other reasons to lift weights

Skwigg: Define bulky

Add comment October 22, 2008

October oddities

My gym is in full swing in terms of how busy it is. I give it another month or two before numbers start to dwindle. I had a rather odd encounter with someone the other day. I needed to use one of the benches, and there was a guy resting on his between his sets. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind switching with me during the resting period. He looked at me as if I had just asked him if I could take a shit in his mouth. He gave me a bit of attitude, “I’ll be done in a minute, yeah, ok?” (He wasn’t actually doing anything bar sitting) But I stood firm, smiled sweetly and got the bench. At this point I’d make a comment here about ‘roid rage, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and conclude that some people are just jerks.

Today I saw a girl using dumbbells for numerous exercises and from the corner of my eye I could see she had a copy of ‘The New Rules of Lifting for Women.’ REJOYCE!

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My hair seems to have almost established its curl pattern (more curls than anticipated) I think it’s still a bit confused, not to mention quite dry (ironic since I haven’t been using shampoo). I think the worst is yet to come in terms of it getting greasy and I’m still a bit paranoid about my scalp smelling weird. The good thing is that I’ve only had compliments so far.

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My tolerance to medical students (myself included) seems to be low for the first time in ages. I wish there was a cream you could buy for that.

Add comment October 13, 2008

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