Friday, 2 November 2012

The Angry Workout ~ Under Pressure

Everyone talks about going to the gym to let off steam. Whether you’ve had a stressful day at work or something has really gotten under your skin, a brisk jog or a couple of rounds with a punching bag is said to do the trick. I understand that via working out, you work yourself hard so that in focusing on 'gymming it up', you take your mind off your aggravation. Similarly, you gear your frustrations via a healthy medium; you get your heart rate up thus pumping blood around your body in a good way as oppose to letting things smoulder under your skin so that they may potentially become detrimental enough for you to develop high blood pressure. So I see the benefits – I really do – but at the same time, I wonder if letting off steam at the gym is generally such a good thing.

As you know, I’m in the process of applying for the position of Assistant Language Teacher with the JET Programme. I’ve also, just legally changed my name and my new passport arrived this morning. I’ve gathered all of the documents I require for the application. All I need to do is write up my Statement of Purpose (a bit like a cover letter), photocopy my new passport and get my doctor to verify that I’m fit and able to work overseas. As today was my day off, I decided to go to my doctor’s surgery. I figured that it would be as simple as it was the last time I applied to the JET Programme. I dropped it off with the receptionist and about a week later, I received a signature and a stamp indicating I had a clean bill of health.

How wrong was I.

Long story short, I explained my situation to the receptionist and she stated that I’d need to put my request in writing and fork over £30.

£30 for a stamp and a signature?


I paid anyway even though I’m not exactly flushed right now and then I went to the gym. All of this took up time, however, because I then had to visit an internet café, type and print a letter, print off some additional information and then go back to the surgery. I was also against the clock because I had to return home in order to be present for a package, but all I could think about was letting off steam so as soon as I arrived, I jumped on the bike with intentions of warming up for 5 minutes and instead, doubled my time on it.

My usual workout is roughly ninety minutes – forty on weights, forty on cardio, five to ten minutes to warm down. I warm up on the bike, follow it with leg weights, do some arms, do some abs and finish on the treadmill.

Today, I had to cut this in half, but I was unusually energetic. I raised the weight of the weights I was lifting, upped the speed I ran on the treadmill and significantly decreased the amount of rest time I gave myself. As soon as I was done with one machine, I’d move onto the next without really stretching my legs in between. I had a water bottle but drank significantly less than I usually do. I was almost violent with myself on the abs machine, but discovered that the Tricep Extension isn’t as rubbish as I thought it was. I felt the brunt of the effects on the treadmill, however, because I could actually feel the blood pumping around my body and lastly, I forgot to stretch afterward meaning that right now as I type this, I’m most definitely in some kind of pain.

What I find strange is that my back is actually hurting me and yet I didn’t particularly lift any weights that might impact on my back…or at least I think I didn’t. But I basically overdid it today and even though I stretched when I got in the door, I think the damage has already been done. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s permanent, but there’s definitely a lesson in this.

Do you recall my earlier entry – when I was hit by a car? Well, it seems that I unlearnt that lesson all in the space of fifty minutes. So I deliver it to you again as a reminder. Take care of yourself. Seriously.

Also, a few helpful tips:

Always stretch/warm up before exercise~

I have a very bad habit of skipping this part altogether, but warming up physically prepares your body for your workout and reduces the amounts of aches and pains you receive afterwards.

When lifting weights, take a small break in between reps~

There’s a saying that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and in this case, I think it applies. If you don’t give yourself a bit of rest, especially while working on weights, you’ll tire out the muscle you’re working on. You might even damage it.

Don’t lift more than your fitness level will allow~

I think this goes without saying really and like I mentioned above, if you try to run before you can walk, you’re likely to fall on your face. Start moderately and then increase weight or speed gradually. You’ll build up a better resistance that way.

Try to break things up a bit~

I’ve heard it said that sometimes it’s good to mix things up at the gym. So, on one visit, you might wish to focus on cardio, while on another, you might choose to focus solely on weights. I think this is up to personal preference, however, as sometimes I stick rigidly to my routine and other occasions, I might reduce things or cut them out altogether.

Always warm down/stretch after exercising~

I’m not sure if this is the case, but I contracted a case of Runner’s Knee back in my university days and I strongly feel that it was attributable to this. I never used to stretch after I exercised, and even though I failed to do so directly after working out today, I usually make it a habit to do this because I find that if I don’t, I become very stiff – similarly to how I feel now.

My last piece of advice is simple. If you’re like me, where angry or under pressure ~ don’t go to the gym.

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