Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned, unplugged running?

Early in January, we reluctantly made the decision to purchase a gym membership. It’s not that we have not gotten the good out of the gym before, the problem is that our little local gym that was owned by the regional medical center (read: some physical therapy and lots of old people), sold last year to Gold’s Gym. So our two person membership that was costing us a total of $30 a month, included unlimited classes and was on a voluntary month-to-month basis is no longer an option. The outdated spaces but sufficient equipment and quiet, non-judgey atmosphere have been traded in for a brand new, high-tech renovation/expansion, sure to attract at least a few more protein pounding meatheads who won’t bat an eye at a two-year contract. It’s a necessary commitment to maintain the guns, brah.


Well, while the Gold’s branding and fancy expensive pricing has been in place for several months now, the renovations have been in the works and the new gym finally opened last weekend. So tonight, we had the opportunity to check out the new amenities, which we are now paying a total of $78 a month to utilize. Side note: we opted for the month-to-month option for now, which is more expensive monthly than signing a one or two year contract. We did this knowing that as soon as it warms up outside, we’d much rather be running or biking in the great outdoors, which also happens to be FREE! If we weren’t such wimps and/or the wind in Wyoming didn’t blow 400 days a year, we would maybe try to run outside through the winter as well. Actually, the real reason that winter running isn’t feasible for us is that it’s dark (in addition to cold and windy) outside by the time we get home from work.

So, for a few months, we’ve resigned ourselves to the treadmill and the comforts of the climate controlled gym. The other day, I’m mid-jog, trying not to stare at the time ticking down, and I realize that I have not one, not two, but three electronic devices on me in addition to the treadmill I am running on. I have a frickin’ checklist I have to go through before I can start my workout. Do I have my heart rate chest strap? Did I push start on my heart rate monitor/watch so I know if I’m in the correct cardio zone? Do I have my kindle with me so I can read to pass the time? And in case I get bored with my book, did I remember my headphones which I will plug into my phone so that I can stream Pandora? Bonus points if I remember to enter the gym’s wifi password so that I’m not eating up all the data on our cell phone plan. The second I push cool down on the machine, I’m opening my Strava app so that I can add my workout to my log to refer back to my progress later and also so my Strava friends can give me kudos. It’s ridiculous. I may as well take a duck-faced mirror selfie when I get home to show all my Facebook friends that I worked out (don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare go quite that far).

But seriously, I sometimes wish we could just go back to the days when all you did was change clothes, put on a watch, lace up your Nikes and head out the door. Does that mean I’m going to deprive myself of the technology I have available and run in mental silence at the gym? Probably not. Even if I went empty handed, I wouldn’t be bored for long with the new tech at Gold’s. (And I have to admit, that brand new cardio cinema room didn’t suck).

I realize I’m kind of all over the place here. The thing is, it’s hard not to follow the quick moving technological trends without feeling like you are missing out. And some of them actually ARE helpful and convenient as training aids. It’s really a love/hate relationship for me. So for now I say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If I find myself with, say, five devices running at a time, maybe that’s where I’ll draw the line. And hopefully we all remember to make time in our lives somewhere to unplug for a few minutes, and just enjoy a simple workout, the outdoors, and the people around us in real life.