So as part of our regimes to become healthier and lose weight and live longer and more active lives and blah blah blah we miss pizza, we recently joined a gym so we could work out after work and start back up with personal trainer sessions. Our last person kind of wandered away and abandoned us (for a better and more fulfilling job with more pay, so we don't begrudge her all for it; just kind of the way she went about it in a rather unprofessional way) and we realized that we needed to continue in our efforts if we also wanted to continue enjoying the resulting… uh.. results, so after a bit of research we decided on 24-Hour Fitness.
One of the major selling points was its central location, about halfway between Lucie’s job and mine, so we could save some time after work instead of driving home, changing, then heading out to exercise. Having both of our jobs offer a respectable discount helped too, to be sure.
One major difference between our new gym and our old location (which wasn’t technically a gym, per se; it was an old Easter Seals physical therapy building taken over by the San Jose State University kinesiology department – but it did have a small weight room and offered personal training which is all we needed at the time) is that our new gym is just so incredibly “gym-y”. Gone is the smell of chorine (from the heated pool at Timpany Center, used for swim lessons and aquatic therapy), replaced with the smell of old sweat and – occasionally – severe body odor. Gone is the quiet solitude of a weight room used only by us (sometimes with a background noise of youth basketball on the other side of the wall); replaced with grunts, clangs of the metal plates from weight machines, upbeat music from Zumba and cardio kickboxing classes, and the overbearing screams of trauma from my muscles being torn asunder.
And that’s the other, much more glaring, difference between our old workouts and our new ones: 24-Hour Fitness personal trainers are SO much more badass. Not really knowing what personal training was when we first started, I never realized that our trainer wasn’t really increasing the intensity of our workouts as we got healthier and stronger like she probably should have; she kept us at a plateau and we were okay with that since we didn’t know any better. Added to that, we spent a relatively large amount of our time talking between sets, and once Lucie started to work out with me we basically just shared the same trainer, so didn’t really get the full impact of personal training as it’s meant to be.
Once we started personal training at 24-Hour Fitness, we decided to go with individual (one might even say PERSONAL) personal trainers, so we could focus on our individual needs – Lucie wanted to work on stamina and other efforts geared toward her running efforts; I opted to go with upper body and cardio so I can more easily move myself around once I need to get my knees replaced… it’s definitely going to happen, and I need to be ready for it when it does. I’d been having a lot of muscle issues with my left knee, where it felt like my kneecap was being pulled out to the left when I tried to take stairs or even when I was just walking and bent my knee without being careful, and that really sucked. Knee pain sucks. It sucks a LOT.
My person trainer Rob is of mostly Japanese heritage, was born and raised in Hawai’i (O’ahu), is a foodie, and is a multiple black belt MMA fighter. His official title is “Master Trainer”, in that he takes on the more challenging clientele and also trains the other personal trainers. Like I said, badass. And he works me HARD… this guy pushes me so much farther than I would push myself; partly because I’m a little lazy but mostly because I typically drastically underestimate just what I’m able to do. And far from shirking from the effort and pain, I kind of dig it. It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m doing stuff I never thought I’d be doing, because I never considered myself capable. Dead lifting? Yeah – over 300 pounds. Never thought I’d be that guy doing weight lifting, but I find I’m enjoying it. I don’t go over to that section when we go to the gym on non-training days, though – it’s still very much a club of regulars and I don’t feel comfortable in ANY kind of social situation like that; but that’s more just my overall general awkwardness than inability to push myself. I still use the machines and use the dumbbells (floor-to-press, 45 pounds, 5 times each arm, repeat 5 times, GO GO GO WORK IT) and ride the stationary bike (though obviously I prefer riding my actual bicycle much more; but at least at the gym I can measure my heart rate and I don’t have to worry about steering) and other stuff, at least.
And I’m actually showing progress, too… I’ve had more than one person at the gym come up to me and tell me they see progress since we’ve started going there. Maybe it’s a sort of “let’s make the sad fat guy feel better about all that sweating he’s doing” kind of thing, but I’d like to think it’s more than that. I do feel stronger. I can feel how much stronger I’ve gotten in the 5-6 months we’ve been doing this. If I kind of cross my eyes a little, I can look in the mirror and even see that I’m starting to develop some sort of shape in my upper body that doesn’t include the word “amorphous”.
Rob and I joke around about how much I hate him for pushing me so hard, but every once in a while in a rare moment of sincerity, he says he really appreciates how much Lucie and I are both willing to push ourselves, compared to some of the other clients who expect miracles without effort on their part; and I tell him how much I appreciate him knowing how far I can go better than I do, and for getting me where I want to be… and for her part Lucie also brought up something I hadn’t even thought of before, which startled me a bit…
My first two trips to Hawai’i, we joked about how Hawai’i was trying to kill me – first trip was a falling coconut, second trip was almost driving off a cliff on an ATV – but that on our subsequent trips to the islands Hawai’i has been fairly nonthreatening. But maybe, just maybe, Lucie suggests, Hawai’i has sent someone to the Mainland to kill me here in California, in a particularly devious and proactive move.
Dang. That’s pretty smart, Hawai’i… but it won’t work. I’ll persevere, despite your islander assassin and your fake nene propaganda and your very long off season of Hawaii Five-0. And I’ll be back, next year. Do your worst.*
*Don’t actually do your worst. Easy, brah.
After breakfast, we head up to our one scheduled appointment for the day, which is just a few miles up the Mamalahoa Highway. From Mamalahoa, we turn right onto Kaloko Road, and drive for several minutes up the steep curvy road, crossing Hao Street, and a few minutes later we cross Hao street... and a minute or two after that, we turn right onto Hao street. This is confusing for most people, but it's our fifth time coming here in four trips to Hawai'i (maybe it's only our fourth trip, but for some reason I seem to remember coming up here twice one time) -- I'm talking of course about the Kaloko Cloud Forest farm location for the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, and it's always a welcome sight. It's also busy -- busier than it was last time, which was busier than it was the time before that, and so on. These guys have been getting more famous and popular in the years since Mike Rowe first visited them and featured them in his show Dirty Jobs back in 2005, and today there are two small tour buses and half a dozen cars parked along the road and in the courtyard of the Big Island's largest and highest (elevation-wise) organic coffee plantation. We still have a few minutes before our scheduled tour, so we hit the gift shop -- located off the main courtyard in what looks like two connected shipping containers -- and fill up a couple of bags of coffee-scented lotions and coffee (whole bean, "American Roast" [their name for a light roast]), several T-shirts and a tank top that actually fit me (albeit a bit snugly, but that's only for now), chocolate covered coffee beans, some children's books for our coworkers, and assorted other items with coffee or Hawaiian themes.
We find lunch at Fig's Mix Plate, where we share a loco moco. The burger patty is ground beef perfection, crunchy char on the outside and smoky flavor, roughly the size of a hubcap; the macaroni salad is a bit too heavy with the mayo but otherwise good; and the plain rice is raised to new heights by the best stinkin' soy sauce ever, Tabasco brand spicy soy sauce, which I desperately try to find at every store in Hawai'i for the rest of our trip but am unable to procure. We belatedly realize that this might actually be the first real mix plate we've eaten on vacation, which is surprising as well as a kind of nice indicator that we're willing to branch out with our culinary endeavors.