Exercise — what, where, when, why, how

by S&M


What is your fitness formula? Have you made any changes recently, and how have they worked out?


123 thoughts on “Exercise — what, where, when, why, how

  1. “…and how have they worked out?” Hah! (Couldn’t resist!)

    I go to the gym 4+ times/week on average alternating weight training days and cardio days. Weight training is 10-12 machines emphasizing butt, abs and up. Cardio is 1/3 each elliptical, stationary bike, treadmill.

    I’ve been at this gym for 4.5 years but when my current membership is up in August I will probably move to one that has a pool + sauna, and will be seriously more expensive since I only pay $100/year where I am now. When we lived in LA I used to swim a mile each night after work. Outdoor pool, very doable there. I’d like to get back to that.

  2. I hate gyms and haven’t belonged to one in about 15 years. I do pilates or yoga at home and walk outside.

  3. This is the first winter that I am trying to run outdoors instead of turning to the gym and spin classes. The weather is cooperating and I bought some winter running stuff in the Athleta sale.
    I went running outdoors three times this week so it seems to be working.
    I don’t get the same results when I turn to the gym for three months.

  4. I have done memberships on and off. Currently, we have a YMCA family membership. I am the most consistent attendee in the family. I make 95% of my Tai Chi classes (2 times a week at one location) and was getting cardio in as well. But, the “pre-class” changed just after the first of the year and now I have to find a way to get out of the house sooner or find another time for cardio. I’ve tried the aqua fit class (one day a week), but it is at a time that I miss it as often as I get there. A different Tai Chi class is offered at a different location on Saturdays, which with kid activities makes this hit and miss as well.

    I’ve mentioned before the attacks on walkers/joggers in my area of town. Nothing has happened for some time and walkers are coming back out. It has been raining here like crazy, but hope to start walking in the neighborhood again. I know it sounds silly, but everyone else in my family is pokemon go crazed, so I am jumping in. There are several stops and areas where they can be caught that aren’t accessible by driving by, which is what they do frequently!

    I am considering a women and weights class that starts next month. I am much better about getting to class than their to work out on my own.

  5. I run about 4 times a week and go to a bootcamp once a week (because otherwise I would never do things like push-ups). I’d like to go to bootcamp or do strength training twice a week but work is getting in the way :-( I exercise before work and lately I’ve been having a number of early morning meetings which makes it challenging.

  6. Like Austin, we have Y family membership. We all go at least 3 times a week, except for DS because he’s taking a weight training class in school. I do 20 minutes of cardio and then weights. My theory is that exercise doesn’t help with weight loss but it helps with fitness. And studies are showing it could also help with preventing/delaying dementia.

  7. One of my kids goes to Kokofit and I have been thinking about trying it. It appears to have the benefits of a trainer without the scheduling and cost. Right now I walk and do yoga videos at home, or discuss doing videos but stay seated on the couch.

  8. I have made changes lately. I added too many things, didn’t account for a day off and now feel overtrained and have an Achilles issue. But I don’t want to give anything up that I’ve added, and feel a bit of pressure not to give anything up, so I’m not sure what the answer is. I guess I’ll just remain overtrained and grumpy and injured until I sort it out. Nice for my family, right?

    Speaking of exercise and Achilles issues, I now wear leg warmers before and en route to hot yoga, to protect my *&^% Achilles. I had them on this morning before class, and DH took one look at me and said, “Oh, is it Ronald Reagan’s inauguration today?”

    Now I feel this urge to play Cyndi Lauper all day…

  9. I do cardio exercise 5 to 6 days a week. I feel really icky if I haven’t exercised. I was never a gym person but 2 winters ago I decided I couldn’t stand running outside when it is below 30 and there is ice all over the roads, so I joined a cheap nearby one so I could use the treadmills. After I started battling injuries that summer, I used the gym more, mostly for the bike machine and weights. I tried some classes but really hated them – all that perky dancing around made me nuts. When it comes to exercise, I prefer solitude.
    This winter, I also joined the local JCC so I could swim. I have swum off and on for many years, whenever I feel like I have too many injuries. I swam through my pregnancies, in fact.
    As the weather improves, I am hoping to do a little more outside running and a lot more outside biking.
    Also, I have been concentrating more on stretches to help prevent the injuries. I will never be a yoga person though – all that mindfulness makes me start hyperventilating

  10. Ris, you just wanna have fun?

    I don’t remember when I sent this in, but I’m glad it came up today, because I’ve been slacking off lately. Decided not to worry about weight lifting while we were with family for the holidays, and have not gotten back to it. I need to. I think it helps me lose weight and I know my core needs all the strengthening it can get, to keep my belly from pooching out and so I’m less likely to pull something in my back (partially because of being stronger, but also because of reminding nerves and muscles how to move together). I’m now at the point of wanting to add mass to my glutes and upper back

  11. Trying the Whole30 thing. It’s day 5. Wish me luck. So far, the hardest part has been getting used to drinking black coffee.

  12. Do those of you who run outside have any concerns about future joint damage from the pounding? I only run on a treadmill, partly influenced by 50-60-something friends and relatives with health problems stemming (they say) from running.

    Honolulu Mother — What short exercise video?

  13. At one point I was a member of 3 gyms, so I am a gym fan. Now I only belong to two. Gyms provide focus for me, and offer classes so I don’t have to structure my own workout or get bored with lack of variety. Going to the gym and just tuning out works well for me, but I know plenty of people who can’t stand them.

    Risley, I have Achilles problems too and there’s a low-budget, ugly option that worked for me. Instead of the leg braces that you can wear, I sewed a strap to a sock. The strap was positioned to go around the ball of the foot and was sewn to the top of the long, knee high sock. It looked terrible (especially with my sewing), but bracing the foot in the flexed position helped stretch the Achilles, and it was actually possible to sleep while wearing the homemade brace, unlike the PT-recommended plastic one. Not as much flex was possible, but it’s enough for the recurring twinges. If you can imagine the way some people use straps to stretch their hamstrings in yoga class, that’s kind of the idea. Good luck with your Achilles. Those suckers are delicate little bastards!

  14. We have a family Y membership. Until this month I was the frequent user – yoga 2-3 x per week totally paid for the membership. DH isn’t happy with his weight, so I think he wants to go more frequently. My yoga instructor took a leave of absence and so far I haven’t had much luck with other instructors wanting me in their classes (these are normal yoga classes, no prenatal option) because they fear I’ll get hurt. Maybe I should get the previous instructor to give me a note! :)

    Because my mom lives with us, she’s included in the membership. I’m trying to get her to take a low-impact class. She can drop DS off at the family care place, go to the class, and come home. So far that’s a no-go… sigh.

  15. I run 4-5 times/week right after school drop off. I do yoga at home or pilates at the gym 4 times/week, at 6:30am.

    I tried yoga at the gym but hated it. Hearing other people breathe makes me, as Rhett would say, stabby. For those doing yoga videos, which ones do you like?

  16. CoC, I try to do a lot of running on tracks because the surfaces are softer. I have pretty much done that since grad school – I developed a lot of knee problems from extensive bicycling back then. I have been plagued with hamstring and hip area problems for the last 1.5 years, but the sports medicine doctor tells me it is all muscular, not joint related. My muscles are too tight, something I have known since I was 5 and couldn’t do any of the flexibility stuff in my kiddie ballet class – but it is only catching up to me now.

  17. Lark said “Hearing other people breathe makes me, as Rhett would say, stabby. ”

    Yes, exactly! I mentioned above that yoga makes me hyperventilate. I think it is the breathing stuff that causes it.

  18. CoC – Gaiam TV on my Roku (or the Chromebox we also have hooked up to the TV, works either way). They are yoga focused but have a bunch of different types of exercise videos, and the lengths vary from less than 10 minutes to an hour or longer. I do the less-than-10 to pushing 20 minutes ones, usually mixing up yoga, barre, stretches, strength/weights, dance. My deal with myself is that I’m always allowed to do the one that’s only 6 minutes and is just stretching out with a yoga ball — that’s how I keep myself from saying “I’m kinda tired this morning so I’m not up for exercise” — but in practice there are some strength and core ones that I keep in the regular mix because I like being able to lift things.

    The weird thing about Gaiam TV is that they mix a good selection of exercise videos and some interesting short films, independent movies, and documentaries with a completely looney tunes bunch of “documentaries” about all kinds of woo. I just ignore the woo. It is a little bizarre to have it there mixed in with the newest yoga or cross-training video in the ‘newly added’ section, though.

  19. CoC, I had some knee injuries so I run shorter distances. I try to run 4 to 5 days a week, but I’m only running a couple of miles each time. I find the track to be kinder to my body so I make the effort to get there instead of running near my house. Our district keeps it open all of the time and I can even use it when school is in session. I’m surprised a security thing isn’t in place, but I’m happy that it’s always an option.

    I use the elliptical on other days and I get to watch Netflix or Prime so it’s a bonus.

    I think one of the best things about wifi in my gym is that I’m no longer stuck watching their TV.

    I added weight training for my arms about ten years ago. I try to do that at least 3 times a week.

    DD uses Xbox. I tried it last week when it snowed and it was great. It’s sort of like having a personal trainer because the sensor can tell if you’re doing something the right way. All of our fitness games seem to have so many choices too. The dance games are really challenging workouts too.

  20. Rhode, I am not impressed. Yoga instructors are supposed to learn about the body and the asana so that they can adapt whatever they’re doing in class to what your body needs. If this instructor just has a 200 hr certification, you might want to find someone with higher. Or find a different class /instructor regardless of certificate, if she can’t do the job.

  21. MM, maybe you could do some yoga videos. It’s too bad you don’t like the classes, because they could, over time, help out with the tight, injury-prone muscles

  22. I have found I prefer Pilates to yoga, and best of all, the nice plain stretches that I learned when I did PT. No posing, no breathing, no mindfulness.

  23. Lauren, our HS track is only two short blocks from my house. That is one of the wonderful perks of where I live.

  24. I’ll be the exercise control group for upper middle class people, allowing researchers to determine how much exercise benefits people compared to how much other aspects of upper middle class life benefit people. I did think about balance and weight lifting the other day while I was unloading the dishwasher while balancing Baby WCE (who wanted to be “up”) on my shoulders.

  25. S&M – it’s the Y, I’m not expecting miracles. I’ll try out 2 more instructors whose classes fit my life. I’m not going to be all upset about it. It’s frustrating yes, but in all honesty, I’m at the stage of pregnancy when all I want to do is sleep. I’m sick of schlepping the extra weight around.

    WCE – I’m wholly impressed. I don’t think I could do that with DS on my shoulders. I must say I like the built in work out when I go home – ~25 lb DS likes to be picked up a lot when we get home (he’s having terrible separation anxiety), so I end up bending, lifting, walking, putting down, and repeating quite frequently

  26. I walk 7 days a week–a combination of very brisk walk days and moderate days. Also do some exercises to strengthen abs and back while I’m drying my hair in the morning.
    In the summer I swim laps occasionally, but there aren’t any convenient indoor pools so I don’t swim the rest of the year. The yoga and Pilates/Barre fitness places in my neighborhood only have classes during the weekdays while I’m at the office, so that’s out.

  27. Does anyone have recommendations for pilates dvds or you tube vidoes? I’ve just started trying a few and think it could be a good addition to my current exercise routine.

  28. I have no interest in going to a gym to exercise, but I could probably benefit from a few sessions with a trainer. For the first time I’m finally able to do a real push up (sort of),, but I had a revelation that I may have been doing it wrong in my previous attempts. Now it seems as if I’m using my core muscles and even my leg muscles to help lift up, but that may be wrong also. So I need some guidance.

    I’ve stuck to the 7-minute workout at home for a while and I like it just fine. The last time I joined a gym was about 30 years ago when I used to belong to a Y where they gave free massages. Yup. So I would drive to the Y, go for a run, then hit the spa and massage room. It was pretty great.

  29. WCE, I never exercised during the time I was working FT with kids at home. I could never carve out the time, and I had too many other things I wanted/needed to do in my limited available time.

  30. Does anyone have recommendations for pilates dvds or you tube vidoes?

    I’m interested in this as well. I’d like to give pilates a try, and the classes at the Y are all during the day.

  31. DD, Up North,


    You can see how people liked them with the percent thumbs up / thumbs down. Find one you want to try, sign up for the one month trial subscription, and see if it’s worth $10/month to you.

    That’s far from the only exercise subscription channel out there, but it’s the one I’m most familiar with.

  32. I usually just do a pilates or yoga video from Amazon Prime. I used to do Winsor Pilates and really liked the shorter 20 minute video (which looks to be on You Tube). I have a reformer too and tend to get on it for 5 or 10 minutes per day but I probably should try a video for that because I’m certain I’m not getting enough out of it. T-Tapp is another exercise I’ve done off and on for 15 years – she has a short 15 minute workout that works really well. It’s supposed to be hormone balancing as well as toning.

  33. Atlanta, is your reformer anything like the low bar thing that I keep seeing advertised on FaceBook? I’ve never done Pilates, but I can see how that would be really good for legs and abs. Upper body too.

  34. DW and I are meeting with the principal and asst principal today to review the video from yesterday’s LA class. DD said they didn’t film the whole thing, which I found interesting.

  35. Oddly enough, I found that my body got leaner and stronger several years ago when I stopped doing intense cardio. My workouts used to be pretty much all cardio – running, treadmill, elliptical, etc. The workouts always made me feel depleted, and my body wasn’t all that toned either, so finally I just stopped. Now I do a combination of yoga, barre, strength training, and walking (the exact mix varies from week to week), and that combination works so much better for me.

    DH is the complete opposite. Intense cardio is his thing. He likes nothing better than to go outside and run and run until he can’t run any more. I do worry about the impact of all that pounding on him — he had hip surgery a couple of years ago, and he’s in PT right now for some nagging pain in one of his legs. But he doesn’t want to hear it when I suggest that maybe he should pull back a little from the intensity of the runs, so I just keep my mouth shut and hope that he stays healthy.

    Yoga classes vary a lot from teacher to teacher. I try to go to the classes that have teachers that emphasize the physical side of yoga rather than the meditative side. Done correctly, I think yoga is a terrific full-body workout; you get strength training, stretching, and balance work.

    There are plenty of boutique exercise studios around here, but I just belong to the local YWCA. It’s $60 a month — $50 for me, and then for $10 extra, the kids can use the pool all they want. I love it — I would cut out a lot of other things from the monthly budget before I cut out the Y membership.

  36. Our Y does a survey every once in a while about what classes people are interested in. As a result, our location got a barre class. Only problem was it was 1.5 hours after my Tai Chi class. I wasn’t going to stay there all day or make two trips at a weird time. A lot of the classes are after work or during work hours. Almost nothing starts/ends before 8 am.

  37. NoB – I’ve read that cardio only lowers metabolism which is why a mix of things is the best.

  38. The main reason I do cardio is because it makes me feel really good, almost like a drug. I don’t really care if it makes me toned or doesn’t make me toned or whatever. What I like is that if I do cardio every day, I feel even keeled, I sleep well, and I just feel good. None of those other things: yoga, weights, stretches has any impact on the way I feel during the rest of the day.

  39. I’ve had the same experience as Boston. Once I got my diet under control and shed 12-15 pounds, I decreased the cardio and upped the strength training. I’ve recently started doing more yoga classes too because I feel so tight and stiff. I go to a local mega gym. It’s reasonable, about $22/month. I still spin twice a week and I wipe down the bike with my own Lysol wipes both before and after. I don’t trust their unlabeled sprays and wipes.

  40. Ellie – thanks–that’s creative! So far, I’ve had good luck wearing a short compression sock while I work out, and then I wear a Runner’s Remedy brand footless compression sock after, and pretty much the rest of the day. It has a pocket in it where you can put in little ice packs, and then you can fold the top down to keep the ice pressing hard against your Achilles.

    I have some old Winsor Pilates dvds and some old Rodney Yee dvds. Both are good, but I have no idea what’s out there now. I notice Rodney Yee is on Gaiam. I’ve moved from mat Pilates to tower, and since I don’t have a tower or reformer or “cadillac” at home, I just do it at the Pilates gym, so haven’t had been on the lookout for dvds. Target usually has a big selection of Gaiam yoga stuff–equipment and dvds. Whole Foods does, too.

    I really, *really* enjoy the dynamic movement of vinyasa flow yoga, and I find doing it in a heated (100-105 degree) studio makes it both more challenging and more beneficial. (The place I go to has infrared heat and it feels amazing). I go a few times/week to a 75-minute class that moves really fast. I am wrung out at the end of those classes and get a huge endorphin rush from them. At my studio, they play music pretty loudly, so I’m never aware of people’s breath sounds. Not sure if it would bother me or not to hear. I find it pretty easy to focus on my own thing and not notice what others are doing. But then, that’s a mindfulness thing, and I like that sort of thing.

  41. Mooshi — So many people (including my husband) talk about the high they get from running or from other high-intensity cardio workouts. In all my many years of doing high-intensity cardio, I never felt that high. Not once. Intense cardio just made me feel depleted and exhausted and not happy at all. I imagine that the “optimal” workout routine varies a lot from one body to another.

  42. NoB/Ginger – ITA. I started feeling/looking fitter and stronger once I converted several years ago from all cardio to a mix of weights, cardio and some of the other stuff you have mentioned. Muscle confusion, higher intensity stuff, challenging weights — all seems to give the best payoff.

  43. Mooshi, you sound like someone who would benefit from cross-training. You seem susceptible to overuse injury, and cross-training would mitigate against that.

    “The main reason I do cardio is because it makes me feel really good, almost like a drug.”

    Ditto, except I don’t know about the drug part for me. But exercise in general helps me sleep better, which makes me feel better and more energetic the next day. And I enjoy the feeling of exhaustion after a hard workout and a shower.

  44. “A lot of the classes are after work or during work hours. Almost nothing starts/ends before 8 am.”

    Austin – that’s the complete opposite of our local Y’s. We luck out that we can use multiple branches with one membership and no additional fee, so I mix and match between my town’s location and the town to my north. I’m able to string together some after work yoga classes, but most classes are during the work hours or start/end before 8am. I am not that early of a riser, so the morning classes are out.

    I got so used to my 7:30p yoga class that having to go at 5:00-6:30 is utterly blasphemous. I try not to get hung up on the “when am I going to see my kid” thing because I go 1-2x per week. But still… I don’t like missing dinner.

    I love how I feel with yoga. I’m reluctant to do a 75 or 90 minute class right now because standing up is a workout, but post-natal I’m looking forward to it. I never realized how stretched out and comfy I feel hugely pregnant until I couldn’t go to yoga because I got a horrible cold that I couldn’t shake for 2 weeks.

    I’m trying to convince DH to use the Y’s personal trainer (extra cost) to learn machines and weight lifting. He wants a diverse workout to focus on losing weight. He does realize that running alone won’t do it (particularly when he says “i ran today, I get an extra snack” after the run…).

  45. I never felt that high. Not once. Intense cardio just made me feel depleted and exhausted and not happy at all.

    Me neither. But I’m happy to walk all day, or dance all evening when the opportunity presents.

    Sadly, long walks are reeaaallly hard to fit into my everyday life and all the little ‘take the stairs!’ ‘park at the far end of the lot!’ tricks don’t make up for that.

  46. One of the benefits of my varied life (tech work on equipment, housework, yardwork, engineering desk work) is that I’m not sedentary. One of my techs commented that he and other techs have worn pedometers at work and walk 3-5 miles/day. Nurses often have a lot of walking too. My Dad usually got his 10,000 steps at work.

  47. “Oddly enough, I found that my body got leaner and stronger several years ago when I stopped doing intense cardio.”

    Sounds like you may have been overtraining.

    “he doesn’t want to hear it when I suggest that maybe he should pull back a little from the intensity of the runs”

    Perhaps he might be receptive to alternating with other cardio workouts that don’t pound his joints so much? E.g., uphill sprint intervals on a bike can be really intense.

  48. “I’ll be the exercise control group for upper middle class people”

    OT, I’ve read that laughter is good exercise. I need to do more of that, so thanks, WCE.

    “I did think about balance and weight lifting the other day while I was unloading the dishwasher while balancing Baby WCE (who wanted to be “up”) on my shoulders.”

    One of DW’s friends told us, a couple years after her first kid, that she noticed her upper body strength had improved noticeably after having the kid, which she attributed largely to carrying the kid so much.

    Given your history of having at least one small kid for so many consecutive years, you may not be an ideal control.

  49. My definition of cross training is doing different physical activiities. Since right now I am alternating bike machines and swimming (and will gradually add some running once I feel confident the latest muscle problem has really gone away), and also doing stretching and weights, I think I am doing cross training, no?

    I had also been doing an elliptical machine on occasion, but never liked it. It didn’t feel natural. My most recent problem – the muscles in my rear decided to knot up – was caused immediately by a session on the elliptical (though I had been running that week which probably predisposed me), so I am never going to get on one of those dang things again.

  50. “uphill sprint intervals on a bike can be really intense.”
    Oy, that is how I killed my knees in grad school. Don’t do it!!!

  51. Finn, I noticed/notice good results from having one child but had bad results (wrist/forearm problems) when I had twins, probably due to overuse. Because of the topic, I was thinking about exercise as I went grocery shopping, chasing and carrying Baby WCE along the way, and then hauling in and organizing food for the next week’s ~120 meals.

    On this blog, I can admit that only two of my [female] Facebook friends have noticeably better upper arm definition, a woman who has trained as a body builder and a rock climber. (Virtually all men have better upper arm definition than I do. They don’t count. :)

  52. “For the first time I’m finally able to do a real push up (sort of),, but I had a revelation that I may have been doing it wrong in my previous attempts. Now it seems as if I’m using my core muscles and even my leg muscles to help lift up, but that may be wrong also. So I need some guidance.”

    I think you’re supposed to use your core when doing pushups. Think of them as planks, but not in a static position.

    You can work up to pushups. Start with wall pushups, moving your feet further from the wall as you get stronger. Then move to “girl pushups” from your knees, then on to full pushups, and then one-armed pushups.

    You can also do presses on your back as a step to working up to pushups. They will strengthen your arms and chest muscles, but I don’t think they’ll give the rest of your body (e.g., abs) as much work as pushups.

  53. Yeah, WCE, you get lots of exercise!

    I have NEVER felt that exercise high that so many, including my DH, experience.

    “Me neither. But I’m happy to walk all day, or dance all evening when the opportunity presents.”

    Over the past year I have taken up hiking and salsa dancing, both of which I enjoy very much. However, I have foot problems that can be aggravated by these activities. Every week I try to do a 6+ mile hike, but I’ve found that hiking 10 miles or so can create foot problems that make walking painful for the next day or two. We have many local meetup hiking groups that I can join for hikes, but most of the outings are 8-10+ miles. My next plan is to get a custom orthotic and try out new hiking shoes. I harbor dreams of hiking holidays, such as walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Maybe it can happen.

  54. From the article in the OP:

    “the socializers who sit on the equipment to laugh about the weekend’s escapades without ever touching a weight.

    These are all terrible human beings”


  55. Finn — in my opinion, pretty much every exercise should involve the core. For example, when I take my strength class, we do different exercises for different muscle groups; each set of exercises is the length of one song track. For example, there is the leg track, the chest track, the bicep track, etc. Even for the tracks that ostensibly have nothing to do with the core, I always engage my core and try to generate each motion from the core. This has been a fundamental shift in my general approach to exercise and movement that I think has been very helpful for me.

  56. There are some studies that show that running may be good for your knees. Also, I’ve read that they haven’t found a definitive link between running on hard surfaces and damage to your joints. One theory I came across is that running on very flat surfaces causes more damage because you’re stressing your joints in the exact place every time – and of course flat surfaces are found more often on hard surfaces (i.e. roads).

  57. I don’t get a runner’s high – but I do generally feel better after I’ve gone for a run. And I like the sense of feeling like I’ve accomplished something (even if I do nothing else productive for the rest of the day).

  58. My brother, the artificial hip-n-knee engineer, says he can look at someone’s X-ray and tell them what kind of exercise they should do, or not do. This type of preventative care would be good for many people, but the cost of automating it (with a computer, probably) and getting it approved by the FDA so it could be offered as “medical advice” would be cost-prohibitive.

  59. ““uphill sprint intervals on a bike can be really intense.”
    Oy, that is how I killed my knees in grad school. Don’t do it!!!”

    You mentioned knee problems from cycling earlier. Do you know what caused them?

    The main reasons I’ve heard of for cycling-related knee problems are related to improperly adjusted equipment.

    One that used to be common was improper cleat adjustment, primarily rotational, if you were using the old cleats/toe clips/straps method of attaching your feet to your pedals. The newer step-in cleat/pedal systems allow rotational float, which largely addresses this issue (it has for me).

    Another was the combination of the saddle being too low, to which too small a frame and/or too short of a seat post could be contributing factors, and low cadence/high force pedaling, which often happens going uphill. Those can be addressed by proper saddle height and/or pedaling out of the saddle, and lower gearing to facilitate higher cadences.

    Uphill sprinting would be typically be done out of the saddle, so this shouldn’t be a source of knee problems.

    BTW, uphill sprinting works the arms a fair amount.

  60. Running at the beach, in about knee-deep water, can also be a pretty intense cardio workout without a lot of pounding of the joints. It might also work on flexibility, especially of the hip joints, more than running on dry land.

    If you do this, make sure to watch out for the sand surfers.

  61. NoB, I agree with you on pretty much everything–I have never noticed a “runners high” although when I used to be in pretty decent shape, working out felt good to me. I really liked weight-lifting because I could go super-slow and just focus on the muscles involved, and yep, core was involved in pretty much everything. That’s one thing I’ve noticed now after dropping it for a few weeks–my stomach is getting squishy again. Time to get back at it! I hope to eventually be back where movement feels really good to me. The first time back at the weights, I was a wobbly, snotty mess–not sure how much was congestion & how much was tears–but it got much better, even in the second session already. I also used to really like soccer and tennis. Don’t know if I’ll get back to them. There is a USTA women’s team I could join, but I’ve never really liked women’s doubles (or women’s teams of anything). The mixed doubles teams aren’t looking for women. I am probably going to give up the Y membership. It’s $70 wasted every month–DS doesn’t want to play bball, and the pool is closed during the part of day when I’d most like to use it, 1-4:00. I did call the other morning, and they said the water temp was mid 80s–not a comfortable temp for me to work out. I think they cut back on heating it for the evening, but then my kid is home. He can stay by himself, of course, but I feel we rarely see each other, just because he’s a teen ager and likes to be alone in his room. I might look into joining the JCC or a masters swim team, because swimming is great all-over exercise. I do workouts like swim team, not just slogging away steady-state cardio.

  62. Finn, yeah, I thought the seat could be too high too. In the right position, it gives your glutes a workout, but the low seat position puts stress on the knees and quads.

  63. ” I harbor dreams of hiking holidays, such as walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Maybe it can happen”

    I have wanted to do this too ! But I no one seemed interested. I saw a movie about it and several documentaries – it is spiritual exercise.

    I know now, which exercise groups I should join :-). Definitely a yoga studio that has those fantastic retreats RMS posted and a hiking group.

  64. Btw, I don’t totally agree with the article. Creepers are always gross and the gym isn’t a place to socialize (at least not the exercise areas), but the “meatheads” I like. Where I live, I get free access to a nice weight room, but there are often 1 or 2 people in there, which feels awkward to me (do you say hi? Make eye contact? Acknowledge what the other is doing? Completely ignore them?), and it has glass doors to an office space for property staff, so even though they say they don’t look, i feel like I’m on some kind of weird display. But a gym with maybe 10 people and enough equipment motivates me, including the people who are really strong. Last time I went to a gym (visiting my parents in Fla) there was a woman with an awesome upper body who was working extra ab stuff into everything. I complimented her and she gave me some nice pointers on my form and things I could be doing. I remember I often used to have someone (usually a guy–stupid gender division at the gym) spot me on bench press, and they were usually encouraging. I wish I could get my kid to do that. Closest he’ll come is hanging out nearby and chanting “go mama!” in a little kid voice and bring me water. Helped for that first workout back, but anymore I find it annoying.

  65. Louise, you could get to yoga retreats easily for way less money if you like the Blue Ridge. Ashland has several yoga retreat places. But if you’d rather go far, I promise not to tell your husband that it’s available for less $$$

  66. We can use multiple Ys as well. But, truly in my area there are 2 that are feasible – one is 8 min away almost always; the other is 15 min away except in pm rush hour. The next closest two – are 25 minutes each way without traffic and who knows how long with as both are with the rush hour/lunch time traffic snarls. Now, Monday I have to go downtown and will look to see if there is a class at that location that will fit into my schedule.

    However, for at least the next 3 weeks – lifting cases of GS cookies as we do 2-3 2 hour booths each a different location each day of the weekend will be my strength training!

  67. ” Where I live, I get free access to a nice weight room”

    Our HOA fees, $99/quarter, include access to our rec center, which includes a fitness room that I use regularly. The rec center is the main benefit the HOA provides; since I’m the only one in the family who uses it regularly (although DD does like to use the pool during the summer), it’s not a great deal.

    DW and I also belong to a regional fitness chain which we also use regularly, in large part because they have gym close to our kids’ school and music studios, so we often use it while the kids are in school activities or lessons. I’ve also used other clubs in this chain when traveling, which gives me more lodging options when I’m not limited to hotels with their own fitness centers.

    Before we moved back home, DW investigated clubs here, and decided this was the best, and compared the cost of joining here vs. joining in SV, and found that there was a corporate offer we could use to join in SV for much less than here. We thought it was a good deal, but shortly afterwards, a friend told us he’d joined the same chain in Vegas for even less. So if you’re looking to join a chain, I suggest comparing prices at different locations.

    DW and I are locked in to an $11/mo/person membership that’s indefinitely renewable. I don’t think I could see myself paying $70/mo.

  68. Lawyers out there, what do you think of the combined Bachelor/JD programs that take 6 years?

    Is barristers a subset of lawyers?

  69. Louise, email me, and I’ll send you the signup info for this year’s retreat in the Greek Islands!

  70. Lawyers out there, what do you think of the combined Bachelor/JD programs that take 6 years?

    DH says: Which school? At the end of the day it’s just a law degree, and Stanford is worth more than Whittier.

    FWIW, my dad did 2.5 in geology at Caltech, went to WWII for 4.5 years, came back and entered the program at Stanford that used to let you do your senior year as the first year of law school. He hated law school after one year and graduated with a Bachelors in “pre-law”. Eventually he went back to Stanford for a Masters in civil engineering. But the one year of law school was enough to convince him that it was a Very Bad Idea for him. So it might be useful in that you learn quickly that you hate law.

  71. “Lawyers out there, what do you think of the combined Bachelor/JD programs that take 6 years?”

    Not much. Most 17-year olds don’t know enough about the legal profession or their interest/aptitude in same to make a commitment to such a program, the only benefits of which appear to be cutting a year off the total training period and assuring a spot in law school during senior year. A top student who is interested in being a lawyer a year earlier than her peers can finish college in three years (with AP credits/summer school/extra courseload) and then apply to law school in the ordinary manner.

  72. @WCE — you reminded me of my first fitness assessment when I went back to the gym after DD. For the first time ever, my left arm was significantly stronger than my right. ??? Wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was spending my day toting a 20-lb weight in my left arm.

    I have recently dropped the Y and picked up Crossfit. Difficult start — as usual, I started too fast and had some injuries, but I’m back up to 3x/week as of this week, so fingers crossed. It has worked much better so far than the Y — the times and classes just didn’t work for me, and I really like the variety of Crossfit.

    Unfortunately, they tried to kill me today – workout was an EMOM, where you alternate different things every minute. Today was 10 thrusters (squat with a barbell, up to overhead press), alternating with 30-second planks, for a total of 14 minutes (so 7 each). We got through the first few rounds, and I was proud — it was hard, but I was doing the prescribed weights (I usually have to de-weight some), and I just felt like I was going to make it. Then That Bastard Chris says “tell you what . . . let’s make it 11.” Followed by 35-second planks. Then 13 and 45 sec, until the last set was 16 and a plank for the full minute. I thought I was gonna die — first time I literally couldn’t catch my breath after (because, hello, I was not going to cave on a stupid plank), actually got a little asthma-panicky and had to talk myself off the ledge and calm back down.

    So, you know, still no runner’s high, but I didn’t die. Yay?

    Tomorrow is a “long walk” day – former college bestie flying in from TCMama’s neck of the woods, and we are heading down to D.C. for the march. I reserved a parking space about a mile away, so we will follow up today’s massive exertion with some leisurely strolling for several miles. :-)

  73. Application for the Columbia program is during junior year. So there’s not a commitment by a 17yo (or likely 18yo for grads of schools with early cutoffs); by jr year they’re more likely to be ready for such a commitment.

    A year of law school tuition and expenses will be somewhere around $130k by what would be the 7th year of school.

  74. I get the runners high, which is why I love running. But it has to be a decently challenging run. I can’t jog 3 miles and get it, but 4 miles at a decent pace has me in a good mood all day.

    Off to run now :)

  75. RMS – good article. DH and I are Exhibit A here. We used to spend a few hundred/month between us–$150 each at CrossFit, and that much again for me at a separate fru fru place with spinning, barre and Pilates.

    DH has now moved to the basement/patio as I’ve mentioned before, using a website called Beyond the Whiteboard to plan and track workouts. So, no more CFit membership for him, and I stopped my membership there too, as he’s a better coach imho. I also stopped going to my expensive gym other than for once/week one:one Pilates. I now spin in our basement, using an online membership at Studio Sweat On Demand, which offers spinning, TRX workouts, weight workouts, etc.

    With the online stuff and home-based equipment, we can fit in a 60-minute workout with a 61-minute investment of time. Going to the gyms, it took closer to 120 minutes to work out for 60. We can also work out when we want, versus planning around the gym’s class schedule. We can also change laundry between sets, or check work email, or chat with the kids or whatever. So much easier/more convenient, and because of that, we don’t miss many days.

    I still go to hot yoga because I think the environment and instructors are worth it, but that’s the only membership we pay for, and it’s only $99/mo for unlimited classes. I’ve got it down to about $4/class. My father, of the “Let’s make our ski pass worthwhile by getting it down to a quarter per run,” mentality, would be so proud.

  76. “With the online stuff and home-based equipment, we can fit in a 60-minute workout with a 61-minute investment of time. Going to the gyms, it took closer to 120 minutes to work out for 60.”

    Yup, this is the main reason I exercise at home. More efficient.

  77. “We used to spend a few hundred/month between us”

    And I thought $70/mo was high.

    I don’t see the online classes as a huge threat to gyms. Gyms will still appeal to people who don’t have the space and/or money to set up their own home gyms, or need or want the external motivation provided by a class/gym setting.

  78. “My father, of the “Let’s make our ski pass worthwhile by getting it down to a quarter per run,” mentality, would be so proud.”

    Love your dad. DS used to say, “I’m lowering the cost-per-use of the pool” when he headed out to the backyard in the summers.

  79. I don’t see the online classes as a huge threat to gyms.

    Just like Blockbuster didn’t see the internet as a threat. :)

  80. My father, of the “Let’s make our ski pass worthwhile by getting it down to a quarter per run,” mentality, would be so proud.

    Today, that would be “Let’s get it down to $7 per run.”

  81. Finn – a barrister is a subset of lawyers that practice before the court, particularly higher courts, as opposed to transactional lawyers. Comes from the Brits.

  82. I go to the gym on the way home from work. So not out out of the way. But on non work days when i go it’s a 35-40min roundtrip investment. But like finn says I like motivation of a gym and all the different equipment

  83. “Today, that would be “Let’s get it down to $7 per run.”

    Denver – when we kids were grown, my parents would do *one* run at their ski club, have a coffee in the lodge, and go home. We kids would hear this and say, “Oh, so now you’re getting it down to $1000/run!”

  84. “We can also change laundry between sets, or check work email, or chat with the kids or whatever. ”

    For me that’s a bug, not a feature, I think. There’s supposedly a cardio benefit to not taking too much of a break between sets. But then again, there are studies that say you can sprinkle exercise throughout your day. Anyway, when I think about going to the gym, it’s on days that I question whether I’d have the self-discipline to do it at home. Haven’t done it yet–if I’m that lacking in self-discipline, I’ll just skip a day. :0

    Denver, aren’t movie theaters the better analogy to gyms? They’ve held on by remaking the “experience” with better seats, food, etc. Some gyms are going the same route with juice bars, etc.

    I got my exercise at the march yesterday too, but not as much as I might’ve thought. Afterwards, I checked MFP to see the total. I’d forgotten to Stop My Run until I was at Ikea on the way home, so the calories chart had a huge bar in the negative direction, and the diary basically said “eat everything you want today”. Then I figured out the error. Bummer!

  85. “I got my exercise at the march yesterday too, but not as much as I might’ve thought.”

    Yeah, I got NO exercise. Standing like sardines for 6 solid hours, followed by an hour-long shuffle to make it three (short) blocks to the port-a-potties (aside to organizers: do NOT let the speeches run two and a half freaking hours past the scheduled march time, unless you have bathrooms, water, and food trucks every 50 feet). We were early and just a block from the stage, so I had NO idea how many people had packed in behind them until I needed to get through them all! So, exercise, not so much – we couldn’t ever get up to what you’d consider even semi-aerobic activity – but, damn do I hurt today just from standing so much! :-)

  86. HM, thanks a million for posting that amazon review of Moby Dick a few days back. DS is reading the book for AP English Lit, and that review has provided a lot of entertainment for our family. “Whale parts, different colors of whales, whale sperm, and when the white whale FINALLY shows up…”

  87. Here’s the probably final update on the saga with DD’s language arts class. We met with the principal and assistant principal Friday to watch the filmed class so they could explain to us what was going on since we could never understand it without an education background. They took a quiz. Then the teacher asked a few questions about something or other, then they started working on an essay. The principal spent a lot of time explaining the “scaffolding” they’ve created to assist the kids in organizing their thoughts. We never could have figured that out on our own. We came up with some dumb questions to ask to keep her busy.

    The final upshot is that they are leaving it to us if we want to homeshool her for the class or keep her in the class, and if we keep her in the class, the principal is happy to give her extra work if we want. We are going to email back that we still want to homeschool her, but because they put an impossible restriction on allowing us to do it, we have no choice but to leave her in the class.

  88. “we could never understand it without an education background”

    The one time I filed a FOIA request (and probably screwed myself) was when my school told me that I could not have a copy of the results of the federally funded drug survey foisted upon our middle schoolers because parents could not possibly understand them. Oh, fun times.

  89. @SM – How do I say this: they were good but repetitive. The first two hours were very powerful. The third hour was exciting because we were building to the march, even though many people were saying the same thing that had already been said in the first couple of hours. From about 2:00 on freaking killed me, because it was the. same. thing. for the umpteenth time. I don’t care what the issue is, you can’t have five hours of 5-10 minute speeches without getting old. By about 2:00, as soon as someone would stop speaking, the crowd would start chanting “March! March! March!” And by 2:30, a whole bunch of us had decided to start marching — it just took us an hour to make it 3 blocks through the crowd to the cross street where the bathrooms were, by which point the marching finally started. I heard but did not see Madonna, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, Angela Davis, etc., because I was fighting the crowd trying to get to the bathroom, facing away from the stage and Jumbotrons. I was pissed that I couldn’t enjoy it by that point because we were exhausted from standing 6-7 hrs with no bathroom/food/water. It got better after @3:30 when we got to the bathroom and had enough room to actually walk. 😉

  90. Tl;dr: impossible to enjoy speakers when you just want everyone to stfu and move so you can pee.

  91. @DD – so wait, to convince you about the validity of their teaching methods, they taped a class where there was basically no actual teaching? A quiz and an in-class essay?

    I would definitely lay out your disappointment in your email – that as they will recall, you specifically requested to observe the teaching, given your concerns about the pace of class and non-substantive level of work you have seen; that you were disappointed that they denied your request to observe the class in person and relegated you to watching a videotape; and that after all of that, it was at best disconcerting to discover that they chose to tape a class that involved no actual teaching, given that the class time was taken up almost entirely by a quiz and an in-class essay. That their reponses leave you with no choice but to conclude that they in fact had no desire to engage substantively with you, but were instead simply attempting to pacify you.

    I would then remind them that you specifically asked to homeschool her for that class, and that you do not consider the sole option they provided — to pick her up and drop her off for a single class acceptable. And then reiterate your request that they find her a study hall during that period, and that you will homeschool her for that particular class. That you believe you are being more than reasonable, given that your daughter has already lost half the school year, and that there must be something they can do.

    I would also prominently cc the members of whatever the local board is that approves charter schools. Because at this point, why the hell not? It cannot be that hard to let her sit in a library or office for an hour a day.

    But, you know, that’s just me. I hate losing, and if I’m going to lose, I’m going to make it as difficult and painful as possible for whoever it is who is trying to screw me over. You are probably a bigger person than I am and more gracious in defeat. 😉 Good luck to your DD (and particularly your DW) however this goes.

  92. LfB has some great advice. As a parent, I try to be nice, but when I was a student, my motto was definitely, “If I’m going to lose, we’re both going to lose.”

  93. LfB, I appreciate your reply, but we’re just done with it at this point. They don’t have to let us homeschool her, and it would’ve saved all of us a lot of time and energy if they just said no up front.

  94. DD, as a veteran of doing battle with recalcitrant public school bureaucrats, I agree with your decision to let this one go. I sense that you understand your daughter will be fine in the long run even though she’s lost out on some learning this year.

    In my case I did finally receive the drug survey results, and a year or so later they made them available to all parents. Before she released them to me, the superintendent sent me a cordial email explaining that there had been some “confusion” about what I had requested but after consulting with their attorney they realized they needed to provide the survey results. As in the majority of my dealings with public schools, their problems seem to stem more from ineptitude than from malice.

  95. ^ Ineptitude with a generous dose of condescension toward parents. After all, we don’t have education degrees.

  96. Coc – that’s what I find so different about my kids school. Any suggestion I email is not blown off but taken in the right spirit. If it does not fit/cannot be implemented I will get a good reason. It is a private school, the thought is a partnership with the parents rather than thinking they are not qualified (fools).

  97. The thing that is most frustrating is that up until a couple of years ago, it was such a great school. Then they hired that new principal and it went to crap. They finally fired her last summer but not before 4 great middle school teachers left.

  98. DD – I was hoping that the new principal at my DD’s wouldn’t mess it up. She hasn’t so far, half the school year. She had been vice principal for a few years so she did get good training. She has made changes but slowly. She is thinking of changing carpool procedures which is likely a bigger deal than anything else 😀

  99. I definitely got no exercise at the march – we were even joking about it. We kind of shuffled, turtle-like, through the route. It took hours. I heard they had to close down some parts of Madison because so many people spilled over. There was literally no room.

  100. Louise, the car line at our school is a huge mess. A lot of parents (including us) park a couple of blocks away and the kids walk over.

    S&M, it’s not worth our time at this point.

  101. Re laundry baskets: We use one-handed laundry baskets that look like this:

    I haven’t seen those in US-based stores like Target or Wal*Mart. We got ours at the nearby store belonging to a Japan-based department store chain.

    I find them much easier to use than the 2-handed Rubbermaid ones. We have a few of those, but those are kept stationary in bedrooms to receive clean clothes.

  102. Meme, thanks for the link. It was mind-expanding. I never would have thought of moving that sort of thing from one place to another.

  103. We have added a spin bike to our home gym now. I love it. DW was the one who initiated the idea. Her rich friend has a Peloton, and while the $2,000 price tag seemed outlandish, we were both more turned off by the $40 monthly subscription for access to the online “classes.”

    So after a lot of Amazon research, we got an upper-end one for about $700 or $800, key features being a heavy, 58 lb. belt-driven flywheel and a magnetic eddy brake resistance system. So far we’ve been exploring different free spin classes on YouTube.

    I still do a weekly Pilates class; DW has been going about two times a week to Pilates or Barre or Pilates/Yoga or whatever they happen to be offering. If the weather is good, I’ll run outside once or twice a week, but I’m through running in the dark.

    I was inspired by MMM’s recent post (and his shirtless picture)


    to adopt more of his mentality of short bursts of strength training vs. long, leisurely cardio, and I’ve been doing a lot of pushups and lunges. I’m going to add weights once a week, starting Thursday.

  104. I never knew that you could earn a living yet recommending paint colors, but this is an actual job. There are people that I could have hired to just come to my home and suggest paint colors for the walls. That’s it. No other decor tips included in the fee. We passed, but I did spend a lot of money on those samples.

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