While hanging out in West Chester, I got a one month membership at the YMCA. They offer over 20 fitness classes every day, including some great yoga classes. I’ve tried just about all of them, and can comfortably say my abs are sore.
At a gym like the huge YMCA here, I have had the same instructor only once or twice over the last week. This is great because I can really figure out which instructors I like, and which classes I’ll keep going to. The 10.30 yoga stretch class on Wednesdays has a friendly older instructor named Jane who is excited to show you extra tips after class. The 9.20 Monday yoga class instructor is great at explaining ways of modifying each pose. Thursday Vinyassa yoga instructor loves trying new music for class, and last week I experienced Tibetan bells, even as I cried through my tense muscles. During Tuesday evening yoga, the instructor jabbers along about exploring each pose. There was no music to drown out her ‘yogi’ comments since all she brought was the soundtrack to Glee. I couldn’t help but laugh imagining Yogi Bear in a downward dog position.
I’ve really enjoyed testing out all of the courses. Even though I’m only here for a few weeks, I’m trying to go to as many classes as possible to stretch out five months of hiking and extreme sports. Going to the morning classes gives me Tuesday and Thursday off to spend some time on the elliptical, working my hip abductions, and attending core and cycling courses. I’ve got a week and a half left before I head back to DC then to Florida for Easter, so it’s important to push my body back into gym mode. Not that I’ve ever been an avid exerciser. On the flight back from Auckland to LA, I sat next to a Dutch personal trainer who told me it takes on average 17 months to make exercising a part of your routine just like brushing your teeth. At least I have week one under my belt.
The US always seemed like the center of the world, but we are one of the few antiquated places still using the empirical system. I went for a jog the other day and ended up going roughly 11km or 5 miles. All I could think about is how long each kilometer felt. We grow up knowing metric measurements are smaller than empirical, but it still felt like it was taking ages. I usually go on the Waitangi-Haruru Falls walking track because it’s hilly, well maintained, and a measured 5k. Usually I see 20 or so others hiking along, but the woods have a way of pulling you in. After only a few solo minutes you feel like you could follow this path back in time to old New Zealand. It helps that there are some pretty views and a massive waterfall at the far end.
I’ve also had the pleasure of becoming addicted to Cadbury’s chocolate caramello bars. They come in 55g, 110g, and 220g sizes. Thinking I was being thrifty, I would buy the biggest bars and freeze them. They never lasted more than a day or two, even though I had tried to convince myself it was for the whole week. Luckily they don’t come in kilogram size.
Running became my retaliation against Cadbury’s. Thinking about the presidential fitness test we did in middle school, I decided to clock myself. I actually hate running, so I mostly power walk (arms and everything) and take an average of 9 minutes 35 seconds per kilometer. This speed leaves me happily satisfied with my workout 6-10km later. But as I approached the track today, I decided to run for it. One kilometer later I was unhappily breathless. 7 minutes 20. That is roughly the time I got running one mile ten years ago at age 13. That’s depressing.
While running will never be my athletic preference, it was still a nice work-out. Most people use simple measurements to observe the world around them, all based around the weight and volume of water. Perhaps kilometers would feel shorter if I had grown up on metric, and maybe someday we will switch over. But for now, I`m happy with the eccentricities of empirical and will be even happier to drive on the right-hand side of the road back in America.