Since we got back from our holidays, I’ve been making an effort to include more activity in my daily life. Since the vast majority of my time (when not in a classroom) is spent at the computer, and since I work from home, I often get very little exercise – not even the walking-to-the- railway-station type exercise. Of course, this does bad things to one’s waistline and fitness levels.
Interestingly enough, while away in the US for 5 weeks recently, I actually lost nearly 5kg and moved my belt in a whole (quite big !) notch. That surprised me. Eating out every meal – and in the US (where copious amounts of salt, sugar, and/or fat seem to be mandatory in any dish) – I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. Then again, out seeing sights every day, and especially walking miles and miles and miles around some of the Disney parks – is bound to have some positive effect on someone who normally doesn’t get that much exercise.
A couple of years ago I bought a Concept2 Model C indoor rowing machine – basically the best there is. I used to use one of these (I think it was a Model B back then) while still in high school when I rowed for the Murray Bridge Rowing Club. I spent a couple of nights a week at a local gym, which happened to be owned by my rowing coach. As a result I ended up spending long periods of time on the rowing machine, being constantly nagged by my coach to do more, do it better, watch my technique, etc. Considering it was a mostly social rowing club, who didn’t take competition all that seriously (although we did actually compete fairly regularly), it was all rather intense. But it did good things for my fitness levels.
Of course, moving to Adelaide to start Uni, a completely different lifestyle, along with the introduction of Tuesday night all-you-can-eat pizza at Pizza Hut, and then the evils of gourmet buffets every night at the single mens quarters while working for WMC at Roxby Downs, and then starting to lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle once working full time – of course has had a bad effect on the reasonably well toned body I had developed in my final years at school. I had always been overweight as a kid – but playing sports in my last few years at school – and especially the rowing and gym, had made a lot of difference.
Back in late 1999, I bought the Concept2 Model C with the aim of using it for regular exercise. According to the records of the rowing I did (I hooked the computer up to the rowing machine to record the activity) – it got 6 months of very regular use, and then further sporadic use over the next 12 months. Since then it has had occasional use, but I had difficulty staying motivated. After I started working for IBM when I no longer had to get to the office every day, I found a lack of daily routine made it difficult to make the exercise into a habit.
Rowing is a great exercise – it works most of the major muscle groups, and gives a good cardio workout too. But after a while it just gets boring. Especially when doing 60 minute workouts, and especially at home, where you don’t get much eye-candy to look at like you would in a gym :D I did take the step of buying a small TV to have next to the rowing machine, and have found that does help distract me – the time goes much more quickly when you have something else to concentrate on. But I’ve still struggled to maintain any kind of regular use of the rowing machine.
One thing that I know does work, is a challenge. Having something to aim for and working towards that goal does really help in motivating you to put the effort in. Not just a meaningless goal that you invent for these purposes – they rarely work – has to be something real.
Concept2’s online ranking system allows people to track their results and compare them to other people of similar age group and weight group. Having my name on a list and striving to move it up the list – a bit of friendly competition, actually works well as a motivator. Heck, it worked for me with SETI :D
So I’ve decided I’m going to contribute to the online ranking system run by Concept2 – and see how well I can progress my results over time and as I get fitter. I’ve got the physical build to be a good rower – I just need the fitness and muscle tone (a long way to go on both counts !).
This week I bought an upgrade to the monitor on my rowing machine – the PM2+ monitor on the model C is very good, but from what I’d seen of the new PM3 on the model D – it looked far superior – in many ways.
Fortunately, it is possible to purhcase a retro-fit kit to adapt the PM3 monitor to the model C rowing machine. What’s more, they also sell the new ergonomic handle from the model D. So I’ve now upgraded my model C into an almost-model-D (basically added PM3 and new handle). About the only difference between what I’ve got and a model D, so I’m told by the people at Concept2, is that the model D’s flywheel enclosure is a bit quieter, and more rust proof, and there’s no capability on the model C to power the PM3 while rowing – so battery life won’t be as good. So really, it’s pretty darn close to a model D rowing machine.
I’m very impressed with the PM3 monitor – it’s a great design, and very easy to use (although I haven’t spent that much time programming custom workouts yet).
I’m going to hook it all up to the computer so I can track results more effectively (I love the new log card function of the PM3 though – you can store results without requiring a computer connection !!). I’m also going to start entering data into the online log facility on the Concept2 site.
I did my first real workout tonight in a long time – although I have been doing some light rowing and stretching exercises over the last week to help my muscles get back into it. The new handle felt good – and I really like the new monitor – the display is very informative. Gotta get the heart rate monitor hooked up too, so that I can make sure I’m staying within the ideal work range for my goals.
So I’ll keep you posted about my progress.
I’ll even see if I can work out a way of automatically posting workout results in a side-bar on my blog – that would be way cool. But that’s an exercise (!?) for another night.
May have to try out some other stuff like online racing too – take on Dunc with his new model D. I’ll think wait until I’m a bit fitter first though, before I start trying any races.