Thursday, May 07, 2009

10 Risks Of Swim Training At L.A. FATness

Long time readers will know that I used to swim in the beautiful, outdoor, saline pool at the Woodlands Athletic Center. I joined as part of the masters group, but I also had privileges to swim any ole' time I wanted. Alas, the WAC is no more. True, the local school system has built a natatorium that would exceed the facilities at many a university; but, I can only use that when the masters are practicing, not for individual swim practice.

When the WAC closed, I was forced to join yet another gym in order to have access to a pool within a reasonable distance of my house. Apparently the "Think Method" of swim training--wherein you just imagine you are a really good swimmer--does not work. Who knew?

The pool that is closest to my home is the local "L.A. Fitness" a/k/a L.A. FATness. It has an adequate, 25 meter, indoor pool, and it opens at 0500 in the morning, so it has become logistically very easy to get in the swim workouts before work. That said, there are certain dangers and risks to swimming regularly at L.A. FATness, and I thought I would put them out there, sort of as a public service. No need to thank me, I'm just here to help.

1. STEROIDS: Apparently, steroids is a danger amongst the population of middle-aged, hairy, iron-pumping, 40% body fat male clientele because there is a "STEROIDS WARNING" posted in bold type in the locker room warning me that my wang might shrink and my boobies might grow. Again, who knew?

2. Heat prostration: While it is definitely easier to slip right from bet to the tepid waters of L.A. FATness than it was to brave the cold pool deck at the WAC, swimming a couple of sharp 100s will make you sweat--inside the pool.

3. Objects are slower than they appear: If you swim at L.A. FATness, you can quickly develop a distorted view of your swimmy luciousness. Yesterday, for example, I was fingertip drilling across the pool in my slowest, easiest and most efficient glide and I went right by someone flailing out 25s at about 30 strokes per length. My tiny brain, for a moment, thought, "wow, I rock"--until I remembered that the better measuring stick is the masters group, where it often appears that I'm swimming in super slo mo as others glide Phelps-like to and fro.

4. Swimming in disinfectant: L.A. FATness has developed a prophylactic measure to be taken against swine flu. Swim in their pool. It has the taste, smell, clarity and viscosity of a bottle of Clorox. If you have any living organism on you, it will die upon entering the pool. If you swim more than three time per week, you will fade, more than 5 times a week, expect to completely disappear.

5. Hair Dryers: I don't use a hair dryer. The only hair it is appropriate to blow dry is the hair on one's head, and mine is cropped so short it needs neither drying nor coming. At L.A. FATness, however, there are two problems: 1) John Edwards wannabees with copious feathered locks c1985; and 2) hairdryers are apparently used to dry hair folicles in nooks and crannies of all sorts south of the Mason-Dixon line.

And just FYI, the crop top muscly girls that are in the L.A. FATness artwork, or the incredible butterfly swimmer dude--never seen them at the club. Never.

6. Simulated Open Water Swimming: I suppose I should thank swimming-trunks-IM-guy for the excessive turbulence he creates when heaving his prodigious girth through 5x100 IM on the 5:00. His butterfly, in particular, turn the little L.A. FATness pool into a terrifying ocean swim. But the L.A. FATness water tastes like a combination of bleach, rubber and White Rain hairspray. I need to improve my open water skills, but would prefer to do so without choking on eau d'jazzercize.

7. You ain't all that: Like speed, your perception of duration will be warped upon swimming at L.A. FATness. If you swim a 60 minute workout, some of the other lanes will empty twice before you're done, as the L.A. FATness crowd swims their 500 meters of floaty breast stroke and head-up length of freestyle. Before you throw out a shoulder patting yourself on the back, Greyhound, remember that the transition area is still devoid of bikes when you emerge from the water.

8. Elevators: I know it is probably required by the American With Disabilities Act, but L.A. FATness has an elevator to the second floor loft where the cardio equipment is. And every time I am there, I see people taking the elevator up one story -- avoiding the stairs on their way to do "cardio." HUH????

9. Showers That Save The Earth: L.A. FATness is doing its part to save the planet, in this case by using the aerating shower heads that turn a dribble of water into a dribble of water and air. Corporate Fat Cats and Robber Barons like me, however, cannot make it through the day if we have not pillaged the earth by pasting ourselves to the other side of the shower with a fire hose of hot shower water.

10. No Excuses: If it is too easy to skip masters, it is also too easy to swim. There is NEVER any excuse to skip Coach Kris' swim sessions. It shows up in your e-mail box, and you know it must be done. L.A. FATness calls.

Now, this is an interactive medium. Some of your favorit gym training risks go in the comments.


Amanda said...

Love Love Love this. My gym, Urban Active, is much the same.

It's a brand new facility, but there are so many members that i don't think the cleaning crew can keep up with maintaining the it's very possible you may sprain an ankle trying to get out of the shower with the amount of hair in the drain.

did you just throw up in your mouth a little? i think i did.

richvans said...

At our LA in MN we had a serial "poop and placer." Apparently the ledge between showers is the perfect place to stash some feces. When the manager was informed, exasperated he said "not again! How are we gonna catch this guy?". Your list is right on the mark.

21stCenturyMom said...

My son claims that about 1/2 the water in any pool is human sweat. I doubt it but I just thought I'd share.

Benson said...

At my pool, I try to swim in the morning because the water has had time to be filtered and treated from the previous days of kids swimming/eeing-in-the-ool lessons. What's missing is the P.

CoachLiz said...

I don't swim in the pool at the gym at work at unless I have to. Anyway is it is hard enough to swim when the "shower cap set" and the pool lounge lizards take up one whole lane to themselves for aqua walking, sculling on their back, or only swimming half lengths and do not want to share a lane.

The pool capacity sign says 40 but many times it is only 3 or 4. And those 3 or 4 people defend their right to hog the whole lane to themselves.

I hate that.

Craig said...

I risk losing a toe every time I use the lat-raise machine because the muscle-brains who use the machine before me dont bother to return the 20kg disks to their racks. (Im handicapped and thus have to do it with one hand.)

Craig said...

I hate it when Im on the treadmill and some guy gets on the one next to me and hes got one of those cheap heart rate monitors, because the signal interferes with the machines on either side of him, and all of a sudden, I have no idea how hard Im working out. (And I have heart disease, so I need to know)

greyhound said...

Dang, and I'm just cranky. Sersly, that is one of my pet peaves too. ALWAYS re-rack the weights and wipe the slime up.

I bet you could avoid the HR mess if you got a polar or garmin HR monitor with the coded HR strap.

Craig said...

The hr thing only happens once every three to four months, so its no big deal. OTOH the lat raise problem happens on a regular basis, but many times a good Samaritan will help me rerack the weights. And its the only machine I use (and because of my handicap I cant use free weights) that doesnt have a weight stack. And the guy who designs my workouts is the best. He used to be the strength/conditioning coach for the OU football team (Schnellenberger fired everybody and brought in his own people).

MisheleK said...

I can't stop giggling about the "poop and placer." Who thinks of these things?!

My only complaint is getting stuck on a treadmill next to someone who has gas. However, I've been known to accidentally let one rip myself on the 'mill-- a hazard of working out indoors, I suppose.

Craig said...

I work out in a coed gym and Im single. What I really hate is when Im lifting and a cute girl walks by and smiles at me, and I lose track of the rep/set count.

John said...

I have been a member of LA FITNESS for quite some time but this applies to any gym.

I want to ask... what is your gym doing to prevent the spread of the flu.. The LA Fitness I have used for 15 years or so has done nothing different - maybe less. Because the Gym environment is a perfect breeding ground I think they owe their patrons a higher standard. What say YOU?

greyhound said...

LA Fitness has done nothing--but to be fair, I wonder what realistically can be done.

I am also a member of a much nicer gym, downtown near my office, and it has put up a few signs about hand washing, sneezing, and put out antibacterial gel. It also has much better hygiene generally--staff that pay attention to wiping down machines and counters, etc.

John said...

Well, at my gym as often as not, there is no soap or alcohol based lotion for your hands. There is no sign asking members to wipe equipment, and the maintenance crew can not possibly keep up. Perhaps they can not make the situation good, but there is no doubt given the enhanced risk at gyms, they could step it up to make patrons feel as though they have done more than what has become the norm.