Gym, week 1: It’s not a fashion statement

Before I start, I want to set something straight for some of my readers. Back when I first joined the gym I stated that I wouldn’t wear gym shoes with my work clothes. I said it’s “a fashion crime I’m not willing to commit”.

I take it back. Here’s proof.

It’s not a death wish either. Though it does feel like one some days.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s recap week 1 of my commitment to the gym.

So far, so good

You’ll be pleased to know that I made it through the first week without incident.

  • Sunday: 60 minute spin
  • Monday: Yoga class
  • Tuesday: Weights
  • Thursday: Weights
  • Saturday: Weights

And because the week starts on Monday (at least in these parts), I’ll throw this in to put us back in sync:

  • Sunday: 45 minute outdoor run (8km)

No complaints from the body yet, other than the cold I’m now coming down with. I can’t really blame that on the gym though!

Dress for success

Some people take gym fashion very seriously. I am not one of those people. I just want to get through my workout in relative comfort. To that end, I’ve spent next to nothing on gym clothes and used stuff I already have. The unexpected upside is some of my gear has nostalgia value!

Gym shoes maketh the gym man

These are actually running shoes. They look vaguely fitness-y so I’m sure no one bats an eye at the gym. I’ve had these 5+ years, but they’re still holding up just fine since I haven’t used them a whole lot.

Classic navy blue

I’ve had these more than half my life. I wore them when I did the Otago Central Rail Trail way back in 2003. (I still want to go back someday and ride it the other way!) They’ve been my go-to exercise kit until very recently, and still hold up pretty well. Unfortunately the shorts lack pockets, which I now deem an essential feature, so they stay in the draw unless the rest are in the wash.

Warehouse special

I bought these for Round the Bays 2018 – my first 10k running event and still one of the proudest moments of my journey so far. Cheap yet functional, and I love the colour of the shirt!

5-viva chile
¡Viva Chile!

This shirt is legitimately from Chile (Patagonia to be more precise). I haven’t actually been there. But it does make for a cool conversation piece – like New Zealand with Australia, Chileans have a “little-brother, big-brother” rivalry with Argentina. Besides that, it’s a nice, long, comfy and stylish shirt.

Racing stripes

I bought these because I needed a second pair of shorts with pockets. Can’t go wrong with black. (I said some of it has nostalgia value, not all!)

Function over form

This is me heading out the door on Tuesday morning.

7-ready for anything
Ready for anything

How ridiculous do I look? Well, I have more pressing concerns at this point than my appearance. Like, how do I get to work and gym without (a) forgetting any gear, or (b) drowning?

Wellington decided to turn full winter this week – heavy rain, strong southerly, and bitter cold (by North Island standards anyway). Dressing for work has never been more complicated!

Let’s take stock of what I’m wearing here:

  • Standard office wear (sans shoes, which now live under my desk)
  • Thermals, top and bottom
  • Thermal socks over my office socks
  • Raincoat and rain pants
  • Gloves
  • Beanie
  • Gym shoes (any wetter and I’d have worn gumboots)

I’m not going on an Antarctic expedition here – just work and the gym! I have no idea what passers-by thought of this, but boy was it comfortable!

Hot yoga, not wet yoga

One thing you need to watch out for when doing yoga, especially in a heated studio, is moisture. I get sweaty hands, so it’s tricky to hold a downward-facing dog at the best of times. Doubly so towards the end of the class when my mat is covered in sweat. (Pro tip: bring a towel!) So the last thing I want is for me or my mat to be wet before I even begin! Which is exactly what threatened to happen this week thanks to the rain. So, thinking quickly and cutting it close on time, I came up with this:


Yes, that’s a plastic supermarket bag around my mat. And yes, I wore gumboots to the studio. But more importantly, I contained the damage to a few drops, which I quickly dispatched with the towel. Mind you, that didn’t stop me falling over (twice) during the class, but that’s because I was trying a new pose that takes more balance than I’m capable of!

Onto the next…

So that’s week 1 clear, in spite of nature’s best efforts. It’s only the start of winter though!

How long can I keep this up? What fashion crimes lie ahead? Stay tuned to find out!

What’s your gym style? Where do you stand on the “function vs form” debate? How do you motivate yourself to work out on cold and rainy days? Let me know!


Gym, day 1: Commitment

1 what lies beyond
What lies beyond the trees?

After I shared my soul-searching post, members of my community suggested that exercise is definitely a thing I should continue doing. This makes sense of course – it has all kinds of health benefits, and it’s a great form of self-improvement. But my gut feeling is that fatigue from gym workouts was a big factor in my breakdown. What to do? I thought long and hard, and here’s what I decided:

I’m going all-in on the gym. Starting today.

But – and this is crucial – I’m going to manage the other factors so I’ll have more energy for exercise. (I’ve already covered one, and I’ll expand on the others in due time.)


Three reasons come to mind:

  1. Reward. Exercise is a strange beast. Depending what you read, it takes anything from three weeks to three months for the body to get used to it. Until then it’s kind of miserable. But you have to go through it to get the benefits. Since the novelty of joining wore off, I haven’t exercised with any consistency, and I’ve been stuck in the miserable part. My mission is to break through that barrier and start reaping some real rewards.
  2. Habit. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit. I’m going to test that theory. Today is Sunday, 27 May. So by Wednesday, 1 August, hopefully I’ll know if it’s worked!
  3. Commitment. I’m terrified of commitment of any form. My mind likes to continually seek something new and abandon the old. Because of this, I don’t like to promise anything beyond the short-term for fear that I’ll lose interest, break my promise, and let everyone down. But I know that without commitment, I won’t gain anything from the gym. It’s scary – but it’s the only way. So this is a test for me. I’m out to prove, to myself and to the world, that I can commit to something.
The plan

This is my weekly exercise program. It’s my commitment – to you, dear reader, and to myself.

Three weights sessions, one cardio session, and one yoga class per week.

Here’s the day-by-day plan. (I reserve the right to rearrange this.)

  • Monday: Yoga
  • Tuesday: Weights
  • Thursday: Weights
  • Saturday: Weights
  • Sunday: Cardio

Weights is a 10-part circuit devised by a trainer, focusing on the upper body and core.

Yoga is a 75-minute, fast-paced class in a heated studio – conveniently located inside the gym.

Cardio is an hour-long spin or 45-minute run. If it’s nice out (unlikely at this time of year), I might take this outdoors.

I’m a tall, scrawny guy. My body is naturally suited to running and cycling, not lifting and pulling. This routine is firmly aimed at covering my weaknesses rather than building on my strengths. It’s supposed to be a challenge!


This may come as a shock, but I don’t have any specific goals in terms of “I will be able to lift x kilograms by time t”. Right now this is more of a mental game. But there are some boxes to tick along the way.

  • Break through the initial pain barrier
  • Work up from 2 sets of each weights exercise to 3
  • Reach a point where the starting weights feel too easy, and up them
  • Learn more exercises and mix them into my routine for variety
  • Graduate from the beginner weights machines to bars
  • Form that habit! I want the gym to feel like an extension of my home, and not the big soulless barn it feels like now.

I’m not putting a time limit on these, but I trust that they’ll come in due time if I put in the effort. Maybe later on when I figure out how this stuff works I’ll set an actual goal! For now I’m just doing what the trainer told me to do, getting a feel for it, and taking it as it comes.


It’s all well and good to talk about committing, but another thing to actually do it. To that end, I’m making one more commitment: Weekly updates on this blog. If I skip a workout, you’ll know – and there’ll be a black mark on my blog for eternity. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is!

It’s day 1. I’m off to the gym for a spin. I’ll let you know how it goes.

2 shoes on
Shoes on. Bag packed. Let’s do this.