The Less Than Triumphant Return to the YMCA

So I made my first trip to the YMCA since February.

In February, my oldest son and I were taking the triathlon prep class ahead of a projected April Y Not Tri indoor triathlon, so every Monday and Wednesday we ate far too much sushi before going to the Y. The lad would shoot some hoops before class whilst I would do some weightlifting. This was back in February. The before time. We skipped the last week of the classes before everything got cancelled because the early signs were that the Pandemic would be something like the beginning of The Stand.

But it wasn’t, and the YMCA remained closed for a while. Then they opened it up without locker rooms and with some onerous restrictions. So I stayed away.

This week, I realized that I had not really been for a run or a bike ride on a weekday since the boys restarted school, so I have been thinking about a return. My beautiful wife mentioned that Planet Fitness, of which she is a member, asks you to wear a mask when you come in and go out, but when on the machines and whatnot, you don’t. I hoped the Y would be the same. First, though, I had to get some new weightlifting gloves as I used my most recent pair as biking gloves for the Olympic duathlon last spring, and the garage is a black hole.

So I stopped at the sporting goods store that has no guns left and three dumbbells (no barbells or weights) left).

As I explained on Facebook:

I stopped in the sporting goods store today and tried on several pairs of weightlifting gloves before I made my selection.

I am more fastidious about weightlifting gloves than 95% of the clothes I buy (if they’re on the top of the stack and have the right basic size, plus or minus a size, take it!).

I am much more fussy in a hat store, however.

Today I went back to the YMCA. It was early in the morning; I went before sun up, and I would rather wake up before I gym-go, but the current schedule is not conducive to a later visit. It was, as it is purportedly at Planet Fitness, just mask in and mask out; only employees and volunteers were wearing masks on the workout floor. I did my normal interval warm-up without sprints and did a couple of weightlifting exercises–biceps and triceps–followed by a mile on the treadmill. I was going to joke on Facebook that it’s been so long that I had trouble opening the heavy door to the facility, but the amount of engagement I get on Facebook (or that I give on Facebook) these days doesn’t make my quips worthwhile. So I will share them with you.

It’s true, though: I only did about 60% of the weight that I could at the beginning of the year. Maybe not quite that low; my arms have generally been slower to progress than my other muscle groups. But still, a bit humbling. But it is very important to start low when coming back as the corner muscles–the stabilizers in the elbows, shoulders, knees, ankle, hips, and so on–atrophy faster than the big topline muscles, and if you try to do too much too soon, you can hurt the small muscles which will put you out of action longer.

I am looking forward to getting back to the weightlifting. It’s been seven months since I lifted weights. I have run and biked a bit, and I have done a couple of martial arts classes, but the running and biking builds endurance, not the explosive bursts that Mark Rippletoe thinks are important and that one needs for martial arts classes.

Check back with me next week, though, to see if I’ve made it back.