4 Observations From My Hotel Workouts

September 20, 2007 · 5 comments

As I wrote yesterday in I’m Still Fat But I’m Already a New Me I did a great job this week on my business trip, actually exercising in a hotel “fitness center.”  In addition to what I wrote in that post about not working out while I travel I should also point out that I haven’t worked out in a public facility in almost 20 years.  When I was around 21 I had a membership at U.S. Swim and Fitness which is now called Bally Total Fitness.  I think I belonged for awhile when it was Bally’s, but my memory of those days is hazy.  So I have avoided public workouts since then.

Granted there weren’t many people around when I was working out, but I’m still counting it as a public workout and the key is that I had fun and I found myself each day actually looking forward to getting back to the hotel to hit the treadmill.  Here are 4 observations from my 3 days of working out:

Working out on foreign equipment is easy when you have established a workout routine
Over the past weeks I have established habits in regards to my strength training and cardio workouts.  I carry in my head details such as sets, reps, weights, incline, time, speed, etc.  Because my habits are now so ingrained it makes it really easy to visit a fitness center with completely foreign equipment and figure out how to closely approximate what you have been doing.  The hotel I was staying at had a nice set of dumbbells the exact same brand of mine, so that certainly helped.  They had three machines that let me get close to my normal routine.  By focusing on figuring out how to mimic my routine on the foreign equipment I was able to block out the fact I was actually working out in public.

Treadmill speeds can vary greatly
For my cardio I am currently doing a 5 minute warm-up walk at 3.5 mph and then intervals between 3.0mph and 5.0mph for another 30 minutes.  It became immediately obvious to me at 3.5mph that the hotel treadmill, which was a good quality Precor, was slower than my treadmill at home.  3.5 just felt too leisurely.  Same for the other speeds.  It seemed as though it was registering about .5mph slower than my treadmill.  Now I don’t know what to make of this.  Am I normally running faster than I think I am?  Certainly my treadmill isn’t as good of quality, although it isn’t bad, so I think I have to trust the hotel’s speed.  I probably won’t figure this out until I visit another hotel, and I’ll get the chance to do that on two trips in October when I am staying at two different hotels each with a fitness center.

You can feel the difference in strength training machines
At home I use a BioForce TNTmachine, which utilizes Nitrocell Technology to deliver the weight resistance.  I really like the machine for a lot of reasons.  Think of it sort of like a Bow Flex machine, but instead of using rods it uses this piston-like Nitrocell stuff.  Can’t really explain it, but it works for me.  The hotel utilized standard weight rack equipment from Nautilus.  I did some bench presses and inclined presses and the feeling of pushing up on actual weights instead of resistance machine technology was definetly different.  Not going to say better, but different.  The weight seemed “deader”, if that makes any sense at all.  I liked it as a change of pace.

You can get motivated by watching other people workout
On the first night of my cardio workout there was a guy running on the treadmill ahead of me.  Really running.  And the bastard had the body I want.  I was still going when he got done and he came over by my treadmill to get a drink of water.  I made some comment about the pace he had been keeping and that turned into a conversation on his experience running 5ks and some tips he gave me for when I finally run one, like walking while taking water station stops.  It was cool talking to someone about fitness, which I don’t get the chance to do when I am in my basement, and it was really cool to see someone run for over 3 miles in front of me.  That was very motivating.

I thought I was going to be more nervous than I was when I went into the fitness center for the first time.  I wasn’t nervous at all, and I was very confident because I knew what I was going to be doing.  I’m really looking forward to the beginning of October when I’ll have a chance to visit another hotel’s fitness center.

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JanB September 20, 2007 at 1:19 pm

You can check your speed per mile by walking at a steady rate for 15 minutes, multiplying that distance by 4 to find out how fast you are going. Your speed will be in miles per hour.

Congrats to you on keeping up your workout while away. I am so proud of you!!

Angela September 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm

I find working out in a gym very motivating. I got over the self-consciousness pretty quick, especially since most of the people at my gym are overweight like me anyway. I like having others around-it keeps me motivated. And I’m less likely to quit once I’ve taken the time to drive myself over there…..

Israel September 21, 2007 at 3:05 pm

i dont usually focus too much on the mph. i just make sure that i am getting a good pace in, that my heart rate is up, and that i am sweating and feeling it in my legs.

john September 22, 2007 at 9:02 pm

“Not going to say better, but different.”

For me, I would say better. When developing real world strength it is important to work with weights that forces you to stabilize the load. Cables, pulleys, rods, etc. remove this important aspect. Which usually means you can push more weight, but the little muscles that provide stability don’t get the work they desperately need.

I learned this the hard way when I worked on bench presses using a Smith Machine.

john - from fat to fit September 25, 2007 at 6:53 am

Jan - thanks for the positive comment! I’m proud of myself for that too.

Angela - I actually found the smaller, more intimate setting of a small weight room more enjoyable than a loud, noisy gym. It was enough for me to see one or two other (already fit) people working out. My problem with a gym membership (and don’t get me wrong I may end up needing to join one eventually) is that it takes more time out of my already precious minutes of the day, plus it would be so much easier for me to never make the ride in. When your workout is at home there are fewer excuses, at least for me.

Israel - The key for me is to use metrics like mph to watch my progress through the data. True I could just look at one measurement like heart rate and presumably in order to keep it up as I got fitter I would need to up my mph so technically that one stat would be a good indicator, but I like multiple statistics and it’s motivating to me to try to push against them.

John - I suspect you are right. However, I also think that is probably something that would only make a difference in moving between levels once you are much more advanced than I am, where my goal is simply to achieve a sweat every morning, which is a big step up from where I was at. I can certainly imagine some time in the future wanting to step it up and moving to free weights (other than the dumbells I am already using) - but that is going to mean a gym membership and I am not ready for that yet for a number of reasons.

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