Friday, November 7, 2008

Alternative Setting

The funny thing about me blowing out my legs hiking down Monte Bré was that back in Zürich I had a meeting with a trainer at my new gym scheduled for the next day. Luckily it wasn't anything like I was expecting, I had been told it was a "fitness test" by whoever it was that scheduled it for me. Instead the trainer showed me around the gym and wrote down a strength training program for me to follow. I think he didn't quite believe me when I told him how strong I am, he kept telling me he didn't know any women who could lift what I said I could do easily. Near the beginning of our meeting I told him how much weight I've list in the past couple of years, it took a moment to sink in as I'm sure he sort of converted it to kilograms in his head. His eyes got really big, "Mamma mia!" he exclaimed, and please note: he is not Italian.

It turned out that he did want to do a bit of a fitness test, I think he just couldn't wrap his head around what I was telling him I could do. So the next day I came back and met with him again. I was set up with a heart rate monitor on a stationary bike. He had me start pedaling at a certain speed and told me he'd increase the resistance every three minutes until my heart rate got up to a certain point. I had to go twice as long as he was expecting before I was over 150bpm. He kept asking if I was all right, "Yep, I'm just fine!" I was so amused at how I was puzzling him so. He crunched some numbers afterwards and told me I rated in above average fitness level. I guess you can be super fit and still be overweight (according to so beloved BMI chart I am actually still just into the obese category). This did encourage me to start using my heart rate monitor more at the gym, I think I had been pushing my speed too hard with the running and I was over-stressing my legs.

Speaking of my poor legs... I was still hurting from our hike down the mountain! I thought a little extra heat might help so I decided to take my first visit to the hamam. I scraped together 5chf from the coins in my wallet, this pays for the extra stuff required to bathe (a towel to wear, the scrubbing mitt, the copper bowl for rinsing, the robe to wear after). They even had brand new directions in English! I was to sit in one steam room for 15 to 20 minutes, then go scrub and rinse, then soak in a medium temperature pool for a while, then a different steam room, then scrub again... I was glad to have instructions and a floor plan! I liked the experience. It felt very refreshing, which surprised me considering the trouble I've had in humidity before. It was a little odd getting into a pool wearing just a towel, I decided to just sit on a bench but a couple of people were managing to move around the pool just fine. The instruction card said very clearly to wear your towel at all times: no nude bathing. Imagine how startling it was then to be sitting in the next steam room and suddenly the guy who just entered the room with his girlfriend rips off his towel and slaps it down on a bench to lay on. Ummmm, okay, I think I'm going to move sort of around the corner so I don't have to look at that, thanks! I managed to mostly banish them from my awareness and enjoyed the rest of my Hamam experience. It looked like some people were going back for another round of soaking and/or steaming, I just followed the directions I was given but maybe the routine is a little more choose-your-own-adventure than I thought, the dress code obviously is! The hamam appears to be wildly popular, the locker room is always full of girls putting on red and white checked towels while the cardio room where I spend so much of my time is often quite and half empty. I'm looking forward to thawing out there this winter if I ever start to turn into an ice cube.

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