A Change of Plans at the Gym

I had an experience at the gym recently that I’m trying to hold on to as a teaching experience. Basically, things weren’t gong my way, but I turned things around, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. Here’s what went down:

I got a guest pass at a new (to me) gym a few weeks ago. I’m not really in the market to switch gyms, but it’s fun to try new facilities and switch things up a bit. The first time I went to the gym, I had a good, if not standard, workout. But I noticed the gym had a pool, which was very exciting news. I like swimming, but I’ve never had a gym with a pool, so I swim in public pools in various parks. I like the outdoor public pools I’ve discovered around town (including my favorite pool EVER), but the hours are crappy (they’re only open 3 hours each day on the weekend), so having an indoor pool available on an expanded schedule was very enticing. I made plans to bring my swimsuit next time I visited that gym, three days later.


Those three days couldn’t come fast enough. I started hyping up this workout in my head: “I can’t wait to get in the water. It’s been MONTHS since I went swimming. It’s gonna feel great, and I’m gonna feel great. Maybe I’ll start swimming every week! Maybe even EVERY DAY!”

Finally, the day arrived, and I went to the gym after work, changed into my swimsuit, grabbed my goggles, and headed to the pool deck. I was ready to go. And then, I started noticing things…

…there wasn’t an interval clock, which is key if you want to track your pace or monitor your rest periods. There weren’t kickboards or pull buoys available, either. Nor were there flags, which announce the location of the wall when you’re backstroking. They picked a crappy tile for the pool deck, which was slippery and dangerous.

But these were all minor inconveniences. They weren’t going to stop me from getting in a killer workout! I got in the pool, and started my warm-up.

…and the pool was a little warm for my liking.  And the water was really cloudy and murky.

But I kept swimming. I was determined to not let the shortcomings of this pool undermine me.

Soon, though, I was miserable. It was, quite simply, a crappy pool, and I just didn’t want to continue swimming in it. My first reaction was heartbreak. I had spent three days preparing for this workout, psyching myself up for this workout, basking in the glories that this workout would bring, imagining the happiness that I’d feel in this moment. And here I was, feeling awful, and I wasn’t even done with my warm-up.

Part of me wanted to white-knuckle it through, to prove to myself that some dumb poorly designed and maintained pool wasn’t going to be my downfall, and I swam that way for a few lengths, seething on the inside.

And then I thought: FUCK IT. Fuck this piece-of-shit pool. So I got out. That’s it. My swim was over. It lasted maybe 15 minutes or so, and I swam 800 yards (32 lengths of the pool). Luckily for me, I had a set of gym clothes in my bag, so I dried off, changed into them, and finished my workout on the StairMaster. And I felt much better. And burned a ton of calories. And wore myself out. I slept well that night.

A few days have now passed, and while I’m not eager to go back to that pool anymore, I’m still letting the memories of it linger in my mind when I start my workouts. And that’s because the whole experience was a nice lesson in being flexible, which sometimes isn’t my strong suit. That workout wasn’t going my way, so I made a change and switched activities, resulting in increased happiness, and, I’m sure, a more productive workout.

I can be proud of that.

Keep it up, David!

4 Responses to A Change of Plans at the Gym

  1. Joel M says:

    Gym pools are usually the worse of the worse. A rare exception to that rule is the Los Angeles Athletic Club LAAC in downtown. Most chain gyms keep the pool at 84F or above. Which is not productive to swimming but great for those water walkers and therapy folks. I’ve always wished gyms would just once and stand up to the little old ladies who walk the pools in full makeup and keep them at safe swimming temperatures. As for the murkiness of those pools I just don’t even want to ask. But as you know luckily the Los Angeles area has large pool of lap swimming city pools. Yeah, the times aren’t always great but you can always arrange your time around the pool times. I for one like the West Hollywood Pool and the Culver City Plunge. Makes me wish I was still living in LA.

    Finally if you ever wonder if a pool is safe or clean you can check out the LA County of Public Health Website’s Swimming Pool Inspection Details at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/phcommon/public/eh/pool/

  2. I joined my local YMCA, the only gym in my area. I had never worked out before so I tried a number of classes, some I loved-Zumba, group weight-lifting. Some I did not-hula-hooping and indoor cycling. I told my trainer I would never take another spinning class, for the entire class I could only think about how bad my butt hurt and I didn’t enjoy the workout at all. I agree with you, you tried , you didn’t like it, you moved on to something that you liked. I hope you can get to the pools that you enjoy.

    • David says:

      Spinning is definitely an acquired taste. I’ve taken a few classes over the years, and there’s one I like, but it’s in Chicago… so not very convenient for this California boy!

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