Hiking up the Red Butte… to The Living Room?

So once you get part the University of Utah, you will arrive at the Red Butte Gardens. There is a road that is owned to up to a gate, and then it is dirt from there to the top…

Wait. I am getting ahead of my self….

This is my friend, Elaina. We’ve known each other a long time. She wanted to go on a hike for her birthday and I was stoked to be able to support her on her journey.
And here is me, repping my favorite local band. I love the Red Butte area in the spring, summer, and fall. One of these days I am going to get crazy and show you how I do a winter on these hills.
Well, she is crossing over the bridge of one year, and now into the next one. When I asked her what will be true about her self in the next year, she said that she would have her degree… “About time, too.”
The trees had started their annual wardrobe change. It never ceases to amaze me that the world can be so mesmerizing with it’s displays. It’s like it knows how to entertain us all throughout our days.
It was cool to see some areas that had changed in color and others that hadn’t. Here is one place that looked lovely… In two ways.
The mountains made for a great back stop for a birthday. And I often wondered what she was thinking about. Truthfully, I think the allergies she was struggling with we’re really getting to her.
Feeling a little worried about her allergies. I didn’t expect them to be like this, and she feels self conscious about it too.
One we got to an area to take a quick water break, I snapped a quick selfie. I can see my house from here, can you?
But for real though. There’s my city, my Salt Lake City! It was so nice having that storm yesterday, even if it was just the wind. The smoke had cleared with the winds and so it was a lovely day!
In spite of the clear air, she looked like she was having a tough time. So I asked her if she was okay. She said her allergies were killing her and she really wished she would have brought a kerchief to blue her nose. I realized that she was really suffering and I did something I wouldn’t do for just anyone… I gave her the shirt off my back to use as a nose rag… Gross, but that’s what buds do…
Really loved this picture. One of those rare moments when you capture someone who has not only overcome great difficulties on the hike, but has also overcome many other difficulties over the course of her life as well.
I really didn’t get any more pictures of myself, I was topless after all, but I was really impressed with how she was handling everything. Besides look at what a great job she was doing navigating over broken terrain and steep ridge lines!
After mounting the top of what we affectionately call “salient point”, we navigated down the south edge to find some very interesting rock formations…
This was one of the many areas on the south side of big beacon. I call it the office as there seems to be an area to set up a canvas and a window, or view finder, to peer out of.
This was another area and boy did I feel like home sweet home! Jk… it I think this is one of the areas that they call the living room.
We sat together and enjoyed the sun in our little living area. It was nice to sit in stillness and silence the city masked of view and the quietude all about us. Truly a rare treat in our ever growing valley.
That was a fun adventure! And I appreciate you following along. I hope you get a chance to go hiking with be sometime. In really do love it!

(Note: This picture was taken before I loaned my shirt to her as a nose rag…)

Start of a 90 day no-gym fitness journey

I love Sundays. I love being able to sleep in, focus almost exclusively on my interests, and I most especially love the opportunity to reflect on where I see my life’s journey going.

Now, waking up late this morning was definitely a pleasure. I normally wake up at about 4:45am every weekday (if you want some tips on how to do this your self, check out this post), but on the weekends I take a much more unstructured approach.

So there I am in my apartment, I have awoken to the beat of my own drum, and I get the feeling that I want to go to the gym to throw some weights around. That’s when I realize that I had recently froze my account at my local Planet Fitness. Kind of came as a surprise.

I have been going to that gym for five years, almost every single day. You’d think that I had taken some serious crazy pills to freeze my account. Well, as you will soon learn, I did it because I am not willing to take the crazy pills.

Let me explain. About two weeks ago I received an email saying that there would be a mask policy put into place as of August 1st. I shrugged my shoulders, and decided that I would deal with that policy when that day came. Now I am severally opposed to wearing masks at the gym, and so you have to know that this is a cancellable offense in my book.

When August 1st came around, I entered the gym, scanned my bar-code key-chain, and went on my way. That’s when the assistant manager, who I know very well (been going 5 years, you get to know people), came up to me and asked me if I had a mask.

“No,” I said.

“Well, Alixander, we have this new policy that requires you to wear a mask,” she said straining for breath through her fabric mask.

I knew where this was going, and so I simply asked her how long I have to wear the mask.

“You can take it off as soon as you are working out.”

I smiled a big, maskless smile and said, “Well, I am working out right now. Thanks for letting me know.” And I walked on my way.

Needless to say, I ended up getting chased down by the assistant manager and was told that if I didn’t follow policy of wearing the mask when I walked in and walked out of the gym that I would have my account suspended.

Step into my shoes just for a moment, and trust me when I say that I understand that she needs to do her job and enforce policy, but in order for me to enter and exit the gym with a mask on is like saying that I need to wear a condom before and after I have had sex.

I politely told her that I was going to finish my work out and that I was was going to place a freeze on my account. She explained to me that she didn’t want to see me stop my five year streak over something like this. Truthfully, I didn’t care. Who I was when I started at that Planet Fitness five years ago is a very different person than who I am today.

The picture in the photo was of my very first day five years ago.

You can see that I apparently got in trouble a lot for “training” my friends on how the equipment works at the gym

So fast forward to today, waking up to the fact that there will be no gym for the next 90 days. I had some serious questions going on in my head. The first of which was, what do I gain not having to go to a gym any more? The next was, how will my training be hampered without the gym’s equipment?

I contemplated that while I was working on making a new workout shirt for this next stage in my personal fitness journey. Rummaging through my old shirts, I found one of my favorites from a band I absolutely love (Crook and The Bluff) and cut it into my new gym shirt.

Making one of these gym shirts is pretty easy. Making all the muscle to fill it, that’s the hard part.

I followed the instructions from this website for the first one that I made. I make them a little bit different now, but you’ll get the gist of it.

After I was done with cutting up the shirt, an intimidating experience considering how much I love the shirt, I then went on to think deeply at my desk. And the best kind of thinking is done with paper and a writing utensil.

I realized pretty quickly that the biggest upside to not having a gym was that I would be able to work out when ever I wanted, where ever I wanted, and I wouldn’t have to pay to train. That seemed very exciting. Not having a gym meant that I’d be able to train outside in the open air instead of in gym air, or I’d be able to train at home instead of having to compete for gym space. This seemed like a huge upside to me.

The downside that immediately presented its self was that I would not have any gym equipment. This would mean that I would have to either get super creative about body weight workouts, or I would have to start investing money into gym equipment that would be taking up more space in my already small living situation. So the downside of not having a gym was that I would have to house my own equipment, or my workouts would become longer for less of a result.

What do I mean by, longer for less of a result? Well, I will use one example. The way that the human body is designed is to compete with the forces of gravity. All of the functions of the body are meant to compete with the never ending pull that the earth has on the mass of the human body. That means that I could easily do pushups and air-squats for almost indefinitely with enough training.

On the flipside, there is the problem of the pull exercises. As the body is primarily made to push away from the force of the earth, there are few instances where the pull muscles of the back are necessary. And except for things like pulling a rope, or climbing a tree, the back is severally limited when it comes to body weight exercises. So in order to over come that, equipment or props will become necessary.

Liberty Park | Utah tourism, Salt lake city, Utah
Here is a pretty ideal picture of the park’s views of the rocky mountains.

After some time of contemplating the upsides and downsides to no gym, I got off my butt and headed out the door for Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park. In no time at all I had completely forgot all those upsides and downsides. As I went about the streets of my city, I found myself picking ripe apples, plums, grapes and pears while walking to the park. By the time I got there, I was basically on a sugar rush. It was time I got to training.

Using a concrete picnic table, I did the following workout:

  • Alternating Step-ups: 20 each side
  • Inclined Pushups: 20
  • Seated Crunches: 20
  • Air-squats: 30
  • Lunges: 20 each side
  • Speed-skaters: 20 each side
  • Rotating Planks: 20 each side
  • Lateral kicks: 20 each side
  • Backward kicks: 20 each side
  • Criss-cross kicks: 20 each side

Granted, this wasn’t the most strenuous workout. In fact, it was pretty freaking easy. But being in the shade of a bunch of huge cottonwood trees was incredible. I loved every minute of being able to breath the air around me and to feel the gentle breeze that came through the trees. Honestly, I loved the feeling.

Afterwards, I went for a run around the park. The park so happens to be a mile around and the pace I took was a pretty good one. Once I had finished the big loop, I headed on home. As I walked home listening to birds singing and watching squirrels dart up and down trees, I thought very seriously about what the next 90 days of my fitness adventure would be like. I wondered as I walked home how others had handled this change from gym life to no-gym life. I knew that I wasn’t the only person to let the gym go in the last couple of months. So now I turn the time over to you:

What have you done since you kicked the gym habit?