I'm on my last day of a 5-day "weekend." The two major accomplishments are making some progress towards my continuing professional education requirements for the year (I need to average 40 hours a year, and had only completed 4 as of 6/30; 4 more added and another 6 in progress), and taking a concrete step on my health and fitness journey by deciding to join Planet Fitness.
I had been looking at two more expensive options (and I haven't ruled either out yet for a short period later), but I decided that Planet Fitness is an affordable place to start, and if I want additional help, I can add that on later.
There are two PF locations within 3 miles of me; I visited both on Sunday. One had slightly higher ratings on Yelp and I was initially leaning towards joining that location, but after visiting both, I ended up joining the other. It's only half a mile closer but the commute time each way is 5 minutes less and the parking lot is far, far nicer at the location I joined. It's a funny criterion, but parking in a "real" parking lot near the entry feels far nicer than parking in a vacant lot where you have to walk past a vacant store front to get to the gym entrance. I joined on Monday, worked out on the cardio machines, and then went back on Tuesday for the "formal" new member orientation and to meet with the club's trainer to set up a program.
Since I have more discretionary time during the next two months than I will during the rest of the year, I opted to start at the "black card" (higher cost membership) that allows you access to the "spa" area with hydromassagers, tanning boths, and a red light/vibration plate booth, as well as the ability to bring a friend. The plan is to keep this level for three months and then downgrade to the $10/month level for the rest of the year. I do have one friend who I haven't seen much the past few years who I think would go along with me to the gym and would help with reconnection. Our previous connections have mostly been on various fitness ventures, but she is far fitter than I, and a year ago, I injured myself trying to keep up with her, and since then, we haven't connected much. Plus the massagers are pleasant. I stopped having "real" massages after having a reaction to the oil used at the last massage I had, so this is a reasonable alternative.
I was surprised to find out that PF has *free* personal training. Every other gym I have belonged to, (and this is the 8th gym I have joined in this area during the past 30 years, and the 10th in my lifetime) you joined the gym and then the trainer tried to upsell you on personal coaching. But I met with the trainer yesterday and he told me that his services are free with your membership. So I am starting on a 3 times a week schedule meeting with him, focusing on strength training and learning proper form. I suspect I will only keep this up over the summer months, but hopefully it will give me momentum and confidence to keep going on my own afterwards.
And of course, hopefully I won't catch COVID by increasing my exposure this way. I will definitely have to start keeping greater track of case counts again now that I will have increased exposure risk.
First real training session tonight!
Also, today FitBit rolled out a new feature, Sleep Profiles, which analyze your long-term sleep patterns over the course of a month. They have ten different metrics, which they then group into "sleep animals" to give you a sense of the overall pattern. I learned that I am a "hedgehog," which refers to a cycle where you fall asleep later and wake up earlier, leading to shorter sleep duration, and typically lower REM and deep sleep cycles. The more alarming part is seeing your comparison to the typical range and to the ideal. I'm in the ideal range on only 2 of 10 variables, bedtime (before 11:30) and time to fall asleep (20 minutes), and out of the typical range on the variability of my sleep schedule and my sleep duration (5 hours & 24 minutes). I like this because it gives me a concrete target to focus on in improving my sleep--getting to bed earlier more consistently. It will be interesting to see if I can make a dent in my long-term patterns in this area.