February 2017

It is a cliché about gym attendance peaking the first two weeks of January, then dropping off for the rest of the year to just the regulars. But it's only a cliché when it's usually true, so let's talk about going to the gym.

First, why go to the gym? The primary reason should be cardio-vascular health. Do you want to be the person that everyone remembers for dying of a heart attack just before you retired? Or the one who had a stroke, and came back to work with a cane and slurring your words?

By the way, drinking heavily is an amusing pastime in your twenties, it sure keeps your friends entertained as well. But if you keep it up, you might be in for seizures and memory loss. You might eventually suffer alcohol withdrawal symptoms, black out while driving and kill someone and have to empty your 401K plan to pay for a lawyer to keep out of jail. It happened to a guy I know. He was one of the best skiers I have been on a mountain with, and used to train regularly on an exercise bicycle, his legs were like tree trunks. Lately he has lost most of his memory. From one point of view it is a good thing, he won't have to think about what he did. He is younger than me.

The second reason should be to avoid gaining weight. Losing even just a little bit of weight can not only makes things easier on your joints, it can also help minimize risk of diabetes and strengthen your immune system. Can you still wear the pants you wore on college? If not, you need to do something beside work and eat. Come on, engineers are notorious cheapskates, why would you want to have to buy larger pants and give away perfectly good ones just because you can't fit into them any more?

Gyms closing

I have been a victim of gyms closing three times, all of them were in Massachusetts. One time I arrived and the owner was putting the equipment onto a trailer, he told me he would re-open somewhere else and would send me the address (he never did). Another time I wrote a 300 dollar check for a year's renewal, then came back the next week and the gym was gone.  I have some sympathy for the owner, as his business did not succeed... but that treatment kind of stung.

How do you avoid getting ripped off? Some larger employers now offer on-site gyms that you could take advantage of, which is good as long as you have that job. Just make sure you take advantage of the showers if you exercise right before that big meeting with the boss. You can join a chain, but they have a habit of asking for monthly access to your charge card, and then increasing the fees when you're not looking, and once they have your signature on a contract and access to your charge cars, you will be in a world of hurt when you try to cancel. You could purchase your own gym equipment, but it will end up as just another place where you hang clothes. Or you could just join the YMCA.

Gym etiquette

I realize some men are so proud of their body that they must wear wife-beater shirts to show off at the gym. But if you are doing a class that involves sweating, how about wearing something with sleeves? There's this thing called a sweat shirt designed for this exact purpose. No one wants to see sweat drip out of your hairy armpit onto the exercise bicycle. The history of the sweat shirt dates back to 1925. It wasn't until the 1930s that Champion came out with the hoodie, now associated with hip-hop culture and more recently, murder.  The hoodie is not seen so much in its intended purpose anymore.

In the locker room, please don't use spray on deodorant or "body wash". Not only do we not want to smell it (or smell you) but we don't want to breath it. A lifetime of inhaling aerosols is going to take a toll on your brain and lungs, there's no need to infect the rest of us.

The whole grunting and dropping weights thing is super annoying as well.

Know what is really disgusting? Chewing gum while doing any form of exercise that makes you breath hard.  Hard breathing often leads to coughing and throat-clearing.  Do you really enjoy gnawing on phlegm? Gum-chewing in general is a nasty habit, you might notice I don't like to hang around with people that do this.  You want nice breath? Brush your teeth.

Things gyms could do better

Mystery pink cleaner - how about you label the chemicals you want us to clean the equipment with so we can know what we are exposed to? I am not asking for a material safety data sheet, I just want to know what that stuff is.

Why do we need candles in the yoga room? You know what the best aroma therapy would be? Lack of aroma. Clean air. Not carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or various hydrocarbons.

Treadmills are a convenient way to run indoors, saving your skin from sun and and you lungs from dust in Tucson. I trained for a marathon on a treadmill several times, it is kind boring running 20 miles indoors but you never have to worry about catching a ride home. I often wonder what the particle count is around the equipment when running, the belt is rubber and is in constant friction. One time I was running 9 miles an hour and a treadmill blew a fuse. Yes, you do run right into the front handles. What scares me is when a gym is so crowded that they put treadmills right against a wall, side by side. If you slipped and fell, there's nowhere to go, you will be at the mercy of that belt abrading your skin just like falling off a bicycle and hitting the pavement. Treadmills even kill people. I once emailed a complaint to the gym manager at my company's in-house gym trying to help him understand the issue by offering to trip someone while they were a treadmill so we could observe the results. Apparently they could not understand sarcasm and I was banned from that gym for a couple of months. Because I never had a chance to say farewell to everyone involved in that gym when I left the company, I hereby wish to relay this sentiment: bite me.

Treadmill 600

How would you like to have a fan up your.... on the other hand, this setup is great for crop-dusting.

Gyms are usually on a low maintenance plan, fix-on-failure is the way to stay profitable. But emergency lighting is probably something you don't want to skimp on.

emergency light

Dust is mostly dead skin particles, and can only be combated with a regular schedule of vacuuming. Or, how about we cool everyone with wall fans, and use their lungs to vacuum up all that dust? Check out the DNA crust on this fan...

fan 800

Around pools, it pays to be in compliance with local regulations. It cracks me up that you need to have a life preserver in easy reach of the hot tub... By the way, if you use a hot tub, you are strongly advised to shower afterwards and scrub heavily. Hot tub rash is nasty enough, but you can catch a fatal dose of Legionnaire's disease in there as well.

jacuzzi 800

Locker rooms

The locker room is a special place full of danger, bacteria and intrigue...

The whole idea of men getting naked and taking showers together is as old as civilization.  It is not supposed to be creepy, but in the last 30 years, things have gotten out of control, with mom's waiting outside the locker-room calling in to make sure their little Rollo is OK.  At this point, if I see a little kid in the locker room, I pack up, go home and shower there.  When I was in high school, it was part of any after-school sport that you were expected to "hit the showers" before you go home.  The showers had poles with four or more shower heads, and if you didn't take a shower after sports, you might get thrown into one.  The two "Carrie" movies have a shower scene in the girl's locker-room, but I can't post video link to either of them for obvious reasons.

Today, those shower poles are gathering dust.  I have been in a high school locker room where they were being used to hang uniforms.  Kids today don't take showers, they spray on some "body wash" and go home.  My guess is that once they are home, half of them skip taking a shower until the next morning.

One outcome of poor hygiene is that skin diseases are rampant in high school, particularly on wrestling teams. Ringworm, staph, herpes, impetigo and even scabies are passed around.  The school will make sure that the mats are washed, but they can't take kids and throw them in the shower anymore.

And who thinks it is a good idea to have carpet where people will have bare feet?  So that's where the TSA got the idea. Personally, I always wear socks when I travel by plane.  How do you kill athlete's foot fungus if it is living in a carpet?

bench 800

A general rule of thumb: don't let any soft body parts touch that bench.  As for the carpet, it is almost unavoidable that your bare feet will be exposed to it.  Good luck.

More on carpets.... and a microwave reference! You can get plantar warts from that filthy rug.  These comments came from Eamon, follow the link to learn more about using medical microwave energy to counter-attack this form of HPV. Wikipedia has some nasty pictures here.

Skin and health is of particular interest to us here at Emblation as we have pioneered a novel treatment for plantar warts in the UK using microwaves which we hope to roll out stateside very soon. (In the UK clinicians call plantar warts "verrucas" which is the medical reference we often use).

Your comment about carpets was quite salient. Our users reported a noticeable up-shift in the number of patients who regularly travel developing plantar warts after airports increased security some years back, so there are a few things lurking on floors that your feet really do not want to encounter!   

Scabies is a cruel parasite.  I once caught it from a room-mate that frequently used my towel, and I had to share my prescription with that cheapskate to kill it. 

Here's a family infestation.  Don't let this be your family.


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