Thursday, October 22, 2009

Once upon a time at a Hilton Hotel Gym

I really don't know why it struck me like it did. I pulled into Orlando a little over a week ago and checked into the reasonably-new Hilton Orlando Convention Center Hotel. I got my suitcases into the room and informed my wife that I wanted to check out the fitness center and see if they had a pull-up bar that I might be able to use since the door in my room has one of those fancy spring mechanisms that gets in they way of my doorway pull-up handles.

What struck me was how nice the gym really was in this place! There must have been about 2000 square feet of gym space. it had that nice padded floor, all of the obligatory treadmills and elliptical, dumbbells up to 60 lbs (like I said, not bad... for a hotel gym), power rack, machines, dip station and all kinds of space to do pretty much whatever I wanted to do. Maybe working out in the shitty hotel parking lot in Greensburg, PA left me subconsciously craving something more luxurious. Something designed for hard work, not adapted to get by.

My wonder lust faded when I actually started using the place. I try to stay focused on what I'm doing, ignoring what's going on around me. Still, it's hard to avoid the level of softness in the modern gym. My life liberates me from the ability to train at gyms so I don't come in contact with it that much. I wasn't so lucky this time. Now, I probably shouldn't be degrading their efforts. A lot of people are doing the best that they can with what they know. At least they're trying though. That's a lot more than the vast majority of people try to do.

So, I'm an asshole. I admit it. Sue me. I'm going to pick apart what saw anyway.

I just can't stand all of the magazines and televisions all over the place. Since it's the Hilton, they have TV's and headsets at every piece of idiotic carido equipment. Seriously, we're all supposed to be working here! We don't watch TV at work because it's distracting and we don't work as well and as fast when we're distracted. Why does that rule end when we walk past the sexy girl at the front desk of the gym? Aren't we all here to get some work done? Now, I understand why some people need an hour to work out: they spend a good portion of their time goofing off.

There are people there that are working hard and staying focused. There was one guy who was focused on his work. The trouble was, there was only one thing that he was focused on: his biceps. Seriously, this guy must have been walking around with a set of 19" guns. The rest of him was pretty damn skinny and undeveloped. I don't even know where to start with this guy other than to say that there is more to your body than your arms. So, there should be more to training than just training the arms.

There was one woman who kind of felt sorry for. She was in decent shape except for a slight belly. Obviously, nobody had taken the time to explain how to get rid of fat on the body because spent a good 20 minutes exercising just her abs, doing various crunches and leg lifts. I admired her drive and her focus but she hasn't been informed that all of those crunches don't amount to any fat loss on the stomach. We can't lose fat in specific spots. We have to loose it everywhere. So, focusing on one part of the body won't get rid of fat in that area. In fact, a good part of fat loss doesn't even happen in the gym. Whether we lose fat or not happens during mealtime. I'm not the kind of guy to give unsolicited fitness advice so I let sleeping dogs lie.

Now that I've made myself look like an arrogant asshole, let me explain why this bothers me. Most of this country is really fat and most of us are aware of that. We're probably depressed by it too. What's more depressing is how few people really know how to work out properly. It's a small wonder that so many who venture into weight-loss country quickly retreat: far too often there is just way more wrong things going on in the gyms of today than there are things right. They have an almost cartoonish quality to them. It's hard to take it all seriously. Nothing really gets done and done properly.

I'm not suggesting that I have the exact, right way to work out and I certainly don't expect people to work out the way that I do. I just wish that people took working out more seriously. I wish there was some serious and smart attempts at some hard work going on more often. I'm saddened that such trainees are more of an exception rather than the rule. I guess all I can do is keep doing my thing, writing about how I do it, and help those who want to be helped.

I guess the shitty hotel parking lot wasn't too bad after all.


brendan said...

Hi Justin
I'm a regular reader of your blog-I just got this book called "solitary fitness" by charles bronson, a British guy who's spent most his life in prison. I think you might find it interesting, there is a lot of bodyweight and interesting isometric exercises in the to amazon listing below


Barna said...

I sometimes get the same feeling, specially when people cringe when I describe some exercises or workouts I do. I sometimes think the whole world developed an aversion to effort and discomfort which will hurt us in the long run, not only in our fitness efforts but in our work and other endeavors.

I've always noticed that all the intense, no-nonsense exercise sites on the internet (Crossfit, Starting Strength, Ross Training, your own website) are quite "underground" in their approach. While I have a soft spot for this, I sometimes feel that the exercise community needs a more popular, Oprah-like character who advocated lifting heavy stuff, doing sprints, etc on prime-time TV. Well, we can always hope...

pierini said...

I use to make similar comments like yours, particularly when I saw a fat person jogging. I'd snicker privately at them and their pathetic effort while their fat bounced up and down.

But now I privately give them an attaboy or attagirl for their effort because I know, that something is better than nothing. Fitness is for everyone including those who just want a sprinkle of it and are not like us who want a storm.

Enjoy your stay at the Hilton and wear a pair of sunglasses at all times so you can enjoy the eye candy without getting slapped in the face by your Boss (spouse) for having wandering eyes.

Matthias said...

A good way to ensure a great hotel gym is to check out (launching in several weeks) before you leave for your next trip. Also be sure to write reviews about the facility.

Justin_PS said...


I've heard of this site. I can pretty much sum up for you hotel gyms: the best ones are in the most expensive hotels. Most of the average price-range hotels have your garden-variety carido equipment and the kitten-sized, colored dumb bells. Machines are uncommon and of questionable quality.

But there are exceptions. Thanks for the link.

Matthias said... (I am affiliated) has now launched... I agree in some circumstances but I've seen really nice hotels with horrible gyms and 'cheaper hotels' with gyms better than some fitness clubs. It will be to watch the reviews come in and see if a good gym really does correspond to the hotel start rating. If you have any fresh hotel gym experiences, please write a review.


Anonymous said...

So did they have a pull-up bar? :)haha cause im looking for a hotel in orlando which is equipped with one

Justin_PS said...

It's been four years since I stayed there but there was one when I was there. It was a very nice hotel!