Friday, May 22, 2020

Can't do the gym thing any more

"Me and my parks are one."

I may have shared this before that once turning age 65 and becoming a Medicare Man a few months ago, I got a free gym membership with my health insurance plan.  I hadn’t belonged to a gym in probably five or more years so the thought of getting something “free” caught my attention.

It wasn’t as if not belonging to a gym was compromising my middle-age man fitness.  I’m fit right now by my middle-age man historical standards.  Since quitting the gym, I had used various public parks as my training landscape.  There are about five that I regularly frequent depending on what I’m doing.   

I have a favorite park for running, a favorite park for doing pull-ups and a preferred park for doing burpees and kettlebell workouts.  I enjoy my outdoors workouts at these parks.  I’ve found little nooks and crannies at these parks where I can pitch my fitness tent and get a good workout without calling too much attention to myself.  Trees abound at these training sweet spots that have become my training oasis. 

Nonetheless, the free gym membership thing enticed me so after exploring the various gyms that I could join for free, I chose a 24 Hour Fitness gym located downtown about one mile from my office.  It’s one of their bigger gyms that they’ve coined as a super-sport gym because it’s huge and loaded with every exercise equipment you can imagine, plus it has many other amenities like a swimming pool, basketball court, you name it; it has it. 

After joining, I decided that it would be a supplement to how I was currently training because all was going well doing it that way.  Pull-ups, bar dips, kettlebell complexes, burpees and running had been doing me good and I saw no reason to change anything.  As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I’d say during the first month of membership, I visited only four times.  This gym frequency was unlike my past when I would go to the gym five days a week.  I found that my new gym was densely populated with people exercising and it was noisy with loud music.  I also learned that, unbeknownst to me, I had become a reclusive middle-age man fitness dude from several years training in the park solo style.

I tried my best to work around this gym density and noise by reminding myself how endowed it was with every imaginable fitness exercise equipment and weights under the sun.  Still, as time passed, I was continually dodging my new gym, taking a hike, instead, to one of my favorite parks.

Then, Coronavirus struck, and all gyms closed and remain closed to this day.

It was during this gym lockdown that I decided I wouldn’t be going back.  I cancelled my free membership about a week ago.  It felt good doing this because it got a monkey off my back that I wasn’t using my free gym membership.

It was a paradigm shift – a stepping over the line in the sand to the other side – and a realization that I can’t do the gym thing anymore.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, May 18, 2020

Middle-age man morning report

When in the U.S. Army five decades ago, I remember how each morning there was a morning ritual leading to what was known as the Morning Report.   A fellow soldier friend of mine had as one of his many duties its daily preparation.  

The Morning Report was a document produced every morning for every basic unit of the Army.  It reported head counts of Army soldiers and changes in status from the previous day.  Once completed, it was reviewed and approved by the unit’s Commanding Officer and then punted up the Army chain of command. Basically, it was a daily measure of Army soldier resources, strength accountability and military readiness.

Fast forward to my middle-age man present.   

Nowadays, I do a morning report of sorts with my middle-age man body to assess its resource availability and readiness for another day of fitness training.  In 2 Thessalonians 3 we read: “If any man will not work, neither let him eat.”   Pierini Fitness says, “If I don’t earn my calories from activities of daily living and exercise, let me not eat.”

My morning report assesses my body and mind’s readiness for planned daily living activities and fitness training.  Nowadays, it’s giving me much different information than a noon or early afternoon report.   

For example, yesterday, upon awakening and crawling out of bed, one of my first thoughts was how sore and stiff I was, and that perhaps my planned fitness activities for the day might not take place.   

My wrists, hands and ankles were sore, and the rest of my body “radiated” signals that perhaps a day of fitness training rest was a good idea.  My previous day’s workout included a short morning kettlebell workout and then later in the day, 150 burpees performed at a moderate pace. 

This has become a common morning experience for me that’s more pronounced than decades earlier.  I remember when in my late 40’s until my early 50’s hitting the gym at 6:00 am sharp, roaring, and ready to go, each Monday through Friday.  I don’t have the physical ganas to do this nowadays.  Did it, done it and gone! 

What I’m also finding is that as time passes, these morning report feelings begin to dissipate so that by noon or early afternoon, I’m ready to tackle my fitness training for the day.  Yesterday, for example, after my ganas woke up, I went for a great 6-mile early afternoon run.

So, my middle-age man morning report is often not a good measure of my middle-age man body's resource availability and readiness for another day of fitness training.

You may recall from what I’ve previously shared that my fitness training approach is an intuitive one.  I’m never quite sure what I’ll do even though I have some ideas and preferred exercises to select from in my fitness training cafeteria with workout duration and intensity depending on what’s being reported in my morning, noon, and early-afternoon reports. 

Works for me. 

Even though it doesn’t always give me the good report I’d like, I’ll continue each day preparing upon awakening and crawling out of bed, my middle-age man morning report. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 15, 2020

Go north middle-age man, your journey continues

There’s an old saying that “whatever goes up must come down.” And this is true for doing overhead press barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell exercises.  I’m a fan of overhead press work and have put it, again, on my short list of go to exercises.

This isn’t the first time in my middle-age man fitness training journey that I’ve had a focus and fascination with overhead training.  In my former training life, I did a couple semesters of Olympic weightlifting training, the snatch and clean and jerk lifts. 

While doing so, I understood that there undoubtedly were lightweight members of the Chinese women’s Olympic weightlifting team hoisting considerably more overhead than I was doing on my best training days.  Nonetheless, I was able to increase my lifts, peaking with best effort lifts of 160 lbs. for the snatch and 185 lbs. for the clean and jerk.

Later, I moved on the other things including a semester of the StrongLifts barbell training program.  There, my best overhead effort was a barbell press of 175 lbs.  I wish I had a video of that lift, but I don’t.

These days, almost a decade later, I’m at it again with overhead work, doing single and double kettlebells snatch and overhead presses, either standalone efforts or as part of a kettlebell complex or chain.  

I like and thrive doing the overhead stuff. Someone once told me that when I exercise, don’t lay when I can sit, don’t sit when I can stand, and lift something heavy overhead.  Single and double kettlebell snatch and overhead press work are perfect for doing just that. 

I’m using the two pair sets of kettlebells I own for my overhead work, a pair of 20kg kettlebells and a pair of 24kg kettlebells.  Rather than go out and add to my collection at this point, I’ll focus on progressive resistance improvements by increasing the rep volume I do, either as a single set maximum reps effort or total reps completed within a given time.

Go north middle-age man, your journey continues.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


Friday, May 8, 2020

Cafeteria-style fitness training menu

I describe my fitness training as intuitive fitness training because I don’t follow a specific workout program that’s spelled out for me with specific exercises, weights, sets, reps or times that I follow to the “T”.  My approach, rather, has me never knowing exactly what I’m going to do until I step into the batter’s box ready to swing.

To make what I do legitimate, I’m guessing that 80 to 90 percent of the time what I do will be done with intensity. 

Otherwise, I risk the chance of being a sandbagger playing or working out below my potential.  Sort of like a B-level racquetball player who plays the D-level competition ladder at his local racquetball club.

Intuitive training works for me because I never know how my body is going to feel on any given day.  How my body feels depends on what I may have done the previous day.  For example, as I peck away on my keyboard composing this blog post, I’m very sore in my wheels because yesterday I ran six miles.  If I had some very specific plan to do this or that today, I’d probably not do this or that today because I wouldn’t feel like it.

Therefore, intuitively, today is a rest day but tomorrow will probably be an intense workout day.

This works for me.

So, the way I do things is like going into a cafeteria to have a meal.  As I walk down a cafeteria aisle, there are several foods to choose from: main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and beverages.  I might have a little of this and a little of that. As I approach the end of the aisle, chances are my plate is full and I’m about to begin having what’ll hopefully be a good meal.

This is how my workouts are put together on any given day.  I chose from a menu of fitness activities and exercise selections from my cafeteria-style fitness training menu.

Here are the exercises and activities currently on my menu, in no order of preference or training frequency:  

Pull-ups and chin-ups – Lately, a typical workout consists of about 100 repetitions done greasing the groove style.  I like doing this while at work where I have a pull-up bar.

For example, I might perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions during the morning or throughout my workday depending on how busy I am.  Last summer, I did more weighted pull-ups and chin-ups; lower rep volume of course with a 20kg or 24kg KB hanging from my waist using a lifting belt.

Bar dips – I have a bar dip unit in a spare room in my office and do most of my bar dip work while at work just like pull-ups and chin-ups.  I generally shoot for about 100 bar dips when I do them.  I’ve also done weighted bar dips but not lately.

Slam ball work – A couple months ago, I purchased my first slam ball; it weighs 15 lbs. and I’ve used it for about four workouts.  Honestly, I thought I would have used it more than I have thus far.  Also, honestly, the slam ball workouts I’ve done have spanked me big time in a short amount of time.  I’m looking forward to more slam ball work in the months ahead.

Burpees – I hate and love burpees in the same breath of air, just like everyone else.  I hate how they make me feel and how they keep me humble whenever my head swells thinking what great fitness conditioning shape I’m in, but I love the fitness conditioning results they deliver.  

Lately, I’ve been doing burpees a couple times a week and am chasing a goal of completing 100 of them in ten minutes or less.

Running – I don’t know how many times in the last ten years I’ve retired as a fun runner only to come back out of retirement.  I’m currently out of retirement again and have been so for almost two years.  It was tough coming back and I swear I’m not going to retire again but, rather, ramp up or taper the running I do depending on what else I’m doing.  

Lately, I’ve been running at a slower and steady-state pace only once a week for between 30 and 60 minutes.  During this summer, I’d like to do some more speed work and see how fast I can fun a one-mile distance on a high school all-weather track.

Kettlebell work – I really like kettlebell training and the stuff I do tends to be kettlebell complexes or chains.  I have a limited inventory of kettlebells that I own but enough to get awesome workouts.  I have a couple favorite routines or complexes I like to do so progress doing them comes from completing a certain number of rounds faster than the last time.

Other items that have been on my fitness training menu in the past – Certain menu items in a cafeteria menu might be seasonal and not always available.  This is also the case with my fitness training menu selections.  Things that I enjoy doing, have done in the past but am not now doing include pull-up hang and handstand against the wall holds for time, Heavy Hands workouts using a pair of 5-lbs. dumbbells and higher-repetition step-ups using a 12-inch step.  

I’ll add these exercises to my training when they come "into season" according to my whim.  I may also add new selections to my menu.

As a middle-age man fitness training warrior trying to achieve age-adjusted upper-percentile cardiovascular-respiratory and strength endurance conditioning, I do best with my intuitive fitness training approach and having a diverse selection of activities and exercises to chose from in my cafeteria-style fitness training menu.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 1, 2020

Middle of nowhere

I once listened to a person talking who shared about an older person he once knew. This older person always made mention of the fact that he grew up in the middle of nowhere. Until recently, often when catching myself in a frenzy in the fast-paced rat race in which I frequent, the thought of taking a trip to the middle of nowhere was appealing.

To be, for a short-term sabbatical at least, a nowhere man living in the middle of nowhere. I’ve also been curious about the nowhere man, after listening to the Beatles sing one of their classic songs having that as its title.

Lately, though, with all this shelter in place stuff keeping me more homebound, it’s given me a greater awareness of what life might be like in the middle of nowhere.

Wherever I go, there I am!

Nonetheless, it’s still an attraction, to visit and spend some time in the “real” middle of nowhere.

Would I like it? 

Would I want to relocate and live there permanently?

Would I be able to go back if I didn’t like it?

These are just some of the questions dancing in my mind simultaneously while imagining what this middle of nowhere is like.

Is it at the end of a rainbow?

I remember years ago during a trip to Maui in Hawaii, taking a drive to Hana, a beautiful area of the island.  When we arrived, I remember driving until I approached a dead in.  I got out of my car and took a look at the scenery and remember thinking that where I was and what I was experiencing seemed like I was at the end of the world, similar to what I imagine what is the middle of nowhere.

Yet, current feelings and urges after being chicken cooped up more than I ever have is that perhaps I’d now prefer to be middle of everywhere rather than in the middle of nowhere. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Eradicating the real pandemic

A recent news article had an eye-catching headline of Nearly All Patients Hospitalized With Covid-19 Had Chronic Health Issues, Study Finds.  I was curious so decided to read more.

The next sentence in the article stated that “Only 6 percent of patients at one New York area health system had no chronic conditions.  Hypertension, obesity and diabetes were common.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. It’s a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief, the prevalence of obesity in America was 42.4 percent in 2017-2018.  Furthermore, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5 percent to 42.4 percent in a short 8-year time period ending in 2018.

This suggests that the real American pandemic is obesity.

How many Coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if Americans weren’t obese?

While some have attempted to define obesity as a disease, the prevalent conclusion is that it’s not; therefore, it’s preventable.  

Maybe America should concentrate on eradicating obesity much like it’s doing with Coronavirus.  If obesity is eliminated or substantially reduced, then there should be corresponding decreases in hypertension and diabetes.  

And, since obesity, hypertension and diabetes appear to be the common chronic conditions prevalent in Coronavirus hospital patients (i.e., those more likely to die), it seems logical reducing obesity will reduce Coronavirus-related deaths, and deaths from whatever happens to be the next great pandemic.  

Why don’t we use the same approaches in ridding American obesity that are being done with the Coronavirus?  You know, like shelter in place and practicing safe social distancing, closing businesses and controlling what people can do and where they can go.  Maybe it’ll work.

Imagine a national obesity-related shelter in place public health directive and mandate preventing all Americans from eating excessively?  Yes, all Americans and not just those suffering from obesity because the ones who aren’t would be at risk from possibly eating excessively by being in close community eating contact with those who are obese.  

Of course, there would have to be exceptions for those people considered “minimum essential” during this obesity pandemic shelter in place.  They would be free to eat whatever they want.  Government officials, law enforcement officers, health care professionals and a few others would be classified as minimum essential, similar the current minimum essential crowd coexisting during the current Coronavirus shelter in place mandates across America.

These lucky folks would be able to eat all they want at buffets and doughnut shops remaining open just for them.  But for everyone else, obese people and others, these places would be off limits; anyone caught there and violating this public health mandate would be subject to fines or jail time.  Violating the mandate would be a misdemeanor appearing in published public crime records and reports.

Safe social distancing would be required for everyone except the minimum essential elite.  Everyone would have to keep at least six feet away from an excessive serving size plate of food and no exceptions would be allowed.

And to protect everyone, a face mask would have to be worn with a small opening at the mouth.  You could only eat food when wearing this mask.   This would help protect against eating more food than permissible by the national public health directive and mandate.

There would likely be other mandates that our government public health officials, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the CDC would dictate in their valiant efforts to eradicate our American obesity pandemic.

Such as businesses not being open and people being unable to resume a normal lifestyle until there was a measured remarkable decrease in American obesity.  It wouldn't matter if our American economy takes a nosedive crash resulting in rampant unemployment and substantial financial strife for most people.   The government would just approve a multi-trillion dollar relief package to hold everyone over until the obesity pandemic dust settled.

After all, it's just money, digitized and printed by the stroke of key on a computer keypad from some financial ivory tower where these money supply shenanigans take place.

The notion that this might drive some people to depression and even suicide would be nothing more than an afterthought in the minds of government public health officials.  After all, preventing deaths of obese people is all that matters, and not overloading the elevators of hospitals from transporting obese people to and from hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units located on different floors.

Before the shelter in place and other mandates could be lifted, there would have to be widespread testing to prove a flattening of the obesity curve is taking place.  People would have to submit to waist circumference measurements and being weighed so that their Body Mass Index (BMI) could be calculated.  

Public health officials would record these measures and there would be several websites you could visit to determine how the hot spots in the country were doing during the obesity pandemic. 

There would be daily press conferences by our elected officials, and there’d be no shortage of social media activity such as the Twitter crowd critics constantly bombarding and criticizing what our President is doing and failing to do during this obesity pandemic.

None of this would matter because it would only matter that we eradicate American obesity.

And, unfortunately, non-obese healthy Americans would have to go along for the ride.

Makes me think about what’s going on with this current Coronavirus pandemic that perhaps we shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and instead be focusing on and eradicating the real pandemic.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Elation constellation

Middle-age men across America, and frankly around the world, have been chicken-cooped up inside in safe shelter in place mode much too long for their primal liking. It’s a matter of time before they throw up their arms in disgust, protest and revolt and begin shouting, “Enough is enough!” 

After all, it’s one month into Spring 2020, the weather continues getting nicer each day and outdoor activity needs aren’t being satisfied by peeking outside from the living room window watching the birds, butterflies and squirrels fly and climb about. 

This shelter in place quarantine isn’t good for middle-age man self-esteem and it's creating a proclivity for random nonsense and relentless restlessness.

Middle-age men unreleased pent-up energy is creating various behaviors and feelings, some which are unfamiliar or unidentifiable.

At times, they might be in a frantic panic.

Or, they might be feeling melancholy, by golly.

And, after watching too many hours of fake news on television, they might be spewing snarky malarkey.

Any which way you look at it, they're envisioning an end to what they’re experiencing. They want to be released into the wild, shelter in place chains unshackled, and free to roam from here to there.

They yearn for a normalcy that creates an aura of middle-age man energy and joy like an elation constellation.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, April 20, 2020

Severe enthusiasm deficit

Photo in graduate psychology textbook of middle-aged man 
afflicted with a case of Sunday severe enthusiasm deficit.
As I was sitting on my butt yesterday doing absolutely nothing, it dawned on me that I was afflicted with a Stage 4 case of Sunday lethargy. It happens every now and then and maybe more often for middle-age men. We sometimes don’t have the gumption to go here and there, doing this and that like we did in our olden days when younger.

I’m sure some middle-age men are still doing the Sunday full-throttle thing, but I’ll also venture to say that many have discovered the joy of a good Sunday sit.

It seems, though, my Sunday sit was more intense, both in duration and pleasure. I was suffering from delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from consecutive days of kettlebell training on Friday and Saturday after having not swung my bells in a while. 

I was sore in all the typical places you’d expect to be from a good kettlebell workout – traps, back, arms and legs – but nothing extremely painful to be concerned about; rather, nice sensations that I had worked muscle areas that hadn’t been worked in a while from the other fitness training I’ve been doing of late.

The great plan I had of going on a longer-duration Sunday run wasn't going to happen and this I realized early in the morning. Thoughts of keeping it Sunday simple danced in my mind of doing a relaxing middle-age man trilogy of “eat, shit and sleep” done with a wash, rinse, and repeat cadence throughout the day.  

As the day wore on, it seemed like a little more pep started to surface but nothing of enormity making me want to redeem myself in the physical fitness department. It was destined to be a complete day of rest; after all, my body needed it and who am I do disregard the obvious cues it gives me that my Sunday was destined to be a rest and recovery day.

Still, though, there was an emerging mid-afternoon urge I felt to do something like, perhaps, go for a walk and work out some of my lingering DOMS. 

But it never happened because this emerging urge to do something was met by a more formidable and stronger force of something I experienced that can best be described as severe enthusiasm deficit.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 17, 2020

Real men do burpees

I may have shared before, but pardon me if I didn’t, that one of my current goals is to perform 100 burpees in 10 minutes or less. My best modern time thus far is 11:53 so I have a way to go. It gets harder as you get older or at least that’s my excuse.

There’s no shortage of burpees junkies sharing their amazing performances on YouTube and the videos I view are a source of inspiration.  Yet, while they inspire me, I must pursue my progress within my own middle-age man abilities, limitations and terms.  

I’m not going to bang out 100 burpees in 6 to 8 minutes no matter how hard I train and try. But, a 10-minute goal is a sensible one so that’s what I’m shooting for by the end of Summer 2020. First stop, however, is completing 100 burpees in 11:00 or less. I hope to be there by the first day of Summer 2020 so that gives me two months to progress at a pleasant pace.

If you view YouTube burpees videos, you’ll see a couple different variations. One is the original burpee that was designed as a fitness test by physiologist Mr. Royal H. Burpee.

The original burpee

Other versions include ones adding a pushup and a jump with arms extended overhead, Navy Seals’ burpees and prison burpees. 

I prefer the version that includes a pushup and a jump with arms extended overhead jump for each burpee done. They’re all good and tough as can be if you do them fast enough and for many repetitions.

Why do I bother, or punish myself, doing burpees?  

Because they keep me honest that, no matter how fit I believe I am, burpees remind me that maybe I could be a little fitter. Not that being a little fitter makes me any better of a person. If I’m a jerk, doing a bazillion burpees won’t make me any less of a jerk.

Nonetheless, I’ll keep on doing burpees because real men do burpees.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Blame it on the Coronavirus

Throughout the history of mankind, men and women have found auditory solace in music and lyrics, sung from the heart and soul by professionals and amateurs alike, sharing a feeling, reflection and/or a sentiment about life lived, life living and life wanting to live.

It provides a time out from the burdens and toils of our now life that, at times, can be overwhelming.  Like the Coronavirus Pandemic gripping our nation and the world, and the media’s never-ending bombardment of one doom and gloom bad story after another.

There will one day be light at the end of our Coronavirus tunnel.  We will one day soon find our pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - a normalcy that we yearn to return to - waiting for us.  We’ll all be ready.

Until then, in moments of shelter in place fatigue, when we’re afflicted with a serious case of stir-crazy syndrome and despair, let’s sing some music. How about this one – a parody sung to the classic 1963 song sung by the late Edyie Gorme named Blame it on the Bossa Nova, except let’s call it Blame it on the Coronavirus.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum