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About a year ago I wrote an article about how I joined a gym. I did stop going during summer, something which I had more or less planned to do (or rather, not do), because in summer I’d much rather go to the golf course or even for an occasional run or bike ride than to a stuffy, sweaty, overheated room with bad music. The good thing is that FitX allows you to rest your membership for up to six month of your one year contract (that prolongs the contract, so you are still paying for 12 months, but you can drag them out to up to 18 months of real time). So that’s what I did and then I returned in November. That was a bit later than I had intended, the original plan was to go back in October, but I could not quite motivate myself at first. But when evil dark winter weather was truly upon us, I went back. For the same reasons I started going in the first place: too much sitting on my ass, too little else to do.

The first few times were hard, partly because I had to admit that I had lost some of my strength again, partly because those weight machines haven’t become any more exciting in the meantime. I did stick to last year’s workout plan for two weeks or so, but then started to digress. First I did a few high intensity (well, high intensity if you are a wombat, anyway) workouts on top of the machine training, but since turning a shade of purple and looking like I am going to puke is not high on the list of things I like to do in public, I kind of got over that relatively fast. So instead I started to work towards exchanging my machine based exercises with free weight ones, one after the other. So instead of doing the forward press, I am doing bench presses now, instead of the sitting rowing machine I do dumbbell rows etc. I used all dumbbells at first, because even the bar alone seemed too heavy and unmanageable to me. It weighs 20 kg, for god’s sake, that’s more than I could press on the forward press.

Another great thing about FitX is that they have a lady gym, so a little separate free weight room just for women. What’s cool about this is not so much that it is only women (I don’t mind men most of the time), but rather, that it is smaller and does not have glass windows and glass walls all around, so you feel much less under scrutiny there. It is a very non-threatening environment to try your hands on dumbbells and barbells for the first time. And so, after a few weeks of working up to it, I finally managed to gather the courage (and the strength) to try barbell squats and deadlifts. I was mega-nervous the first time, so much so that my knees shook even before I picked the bar up (something that not really helps when you are trying to squat, let me tell you), but I got through it. The only machine which I still use is the pull-up machine, because I find it less awkward than using a resistance band and my first unassisted pull-up is still a long way away. (40 kg away, to be honest, because that is how much support I am currently using)

Transitioning to the barbell was the spark that I needed to really get me into this again. I genuinely love going to the gym at the moment. And so I started searching the net for all kinds of fitness advice and cool workout ideas and stuff and I encountered NerdFitness. The idea of mixing fitness with imagery from role playing games and superhero comics was very appealing to me (as you can imagine if you know me at all) and I promptly ordered their free starter package. It has some solid advice and they offer some fun things on their website (for example you can create a ‚character‘ like in a roleplaying game and then work your way through fitness quests to build it up). But in the end it is all a bit too American and too commercial for me to actually go for it.

But (and now, after four paragraphs of blabbering we are finally nearing the actual reason for this blog entry … well done, Jutta) it gave me an idea of how to create something similar for myself. A little points game to keep me interested. My personal quest to go from wombat to wolverine. And a way to break down and structure my fitness goals for 2018. So, here I present:


The Wombat Fitness Quest 2018:

Consistency goals:

  • – do some form of „workout“ on rest days: walk, bike, yoga, hiit bodyweight routine etc. (no judgement, no specific goal, just do something, can be as short as 10 minutes) (1 pt. per day)
  •  keep doing the strength workouts in the gym 2-3 times a week (10 pts per workout)
  • not more than one YumYum per week (no points, you moron … just don’t)
  •  go sugar and alcohol free for the fasting period (Carnival to Easter) (50 pts if I make it through all the way, -5 pts for every slip up)

Mental (get over yourself and do it already, 20 sec beastmode) goals:

  • do a free trial lesson with a personal trainer (50 pts)
  • start using the free weights section in the gym (50 pts)
  • try a crossfit class (50 pts)
  • try an aikido or other martial arts class (50 pts)

Specific strength and exercise related goals:
(when you hit any of these, set a new target)

  • 1 regular push-up (10 pts)
  • 1 unassisted chin-up or pull-up (50 pts)
  • 1 pistol squat (10 pts per side)
  • deadlift half your bodyweight (35 kg) for 4 sets of 5 reps (20 pts)
  • deadlift your bodyweight (70 kg) once (20 pts)
  • squat 30 kg for 4 sets of 5 reps (20 pts)
  • squat 50 kg once (20 pts)
  • bench press 25 kg (2x 12.5 kg dumbbell or 25 kg barbell) for 4 sets of 5 reps (30 pts)
  • overhead press 20 kg for 4 sets of 5 reps (20 pts)
  • do 20 burpees without a break (and without throwing up) (20 pts)
  • do a one hour run without a break (20 pts)

If you don’t do any weight training yourself, those goals will not mean much to you, and if you do, then all those goals must seem ridiculously easy, but that’s what life is like when you are a wombat.

I’ll keep track of all my achievements and earned points in an excel sheet and then I let you know how I progress and when or if I reach a new level. I am starting out as a wombat, of course. The other levels are as follows:

current: Wombat
200 pts: Wolpertinger
500 pts: Wallaby
1000 pts: Wildcat
1500 pts: Wolf
2000 pts: Wolverine

(Why is a wolverine cooler than a wolf you ask? Clearly you have never met one. A wolverine might not look like much, but it is a real bad-ass. And why do they all start with a W? Not sure, they just do.)

Let’s see how far I can go in 2018.

If you know me (and if you are reading this blog then chances are pretty high that you do), you know that I don’t do sports. Ever since my elementary school years, I learned to hate sports with a passion. Basically that is due to the fact that I suck at sports. Seriously. I am just not good at any of them. Never were. I did well academically in school. If I can use my brain to solve a problem, I usually succeed. If I have to use my biceps or my legs … not so much. In the beginning it was not for lack of trying. When I grew up, a childhood still included playing outside, climbing trees, roller-skating, kicking a football against the garage door … all my friends did it … I did it … they were better than me. Always. I combined the strength of a field mouse with the speed of a garden snail and the stamina of a dead frog. It does get frustrating after a while. It does get even more frustrating when you get grades for it at school. And I wasn’t even fat or anything. Quite the contrary, I was always very thin, which made my complete lack of fitness even more embarrassing. So I comforted myself with the thought that you can’t be good at everything and athletic endeavours just weren’t for me and that was it. My sports teacher predicted I would be sitting in a wheel chair by the age of 25.

Don’t get me wrong. I like to do things. I am always curious to try things out and so again and again I dabbled into past-times that other people might categorize as sports: dancing, martial arts, archery, free climbing. And now that I think of it, the very early beginnings of this blog were as a running blog, when I had decided that everybody could run, even me (it lasted for a few months only, but hey … I didn’t completely suck). That, in combination with living car-free, might have saved me from my teacher’s prediciton and I am in better shape than I could be. Still, during winter months, the little bit of exercise that the occasional golf game and the bike rides to work give me, dwindles away and I spent my waking hours either sitting in my desk chair at work or sitting in my desk chair at home. And that drives even a complete sport sceptic like myself slightly crazy.

So, what does a middle-aged 9to5 jobber in the 21st century do when a sudden urge for excercise overcomes her? Yeah, right, I signed up for a gym membership. If you are rolling on the floor laughing right now, that’s probably because you have known me for some time and you know that me and a gym go together like a horse and an aquarium. I always felt nothing but pity for the poor people who ran or cycled in place for hours like lab rats. And I surely didn’t see myself as the weight lifting type either. But the thought of having somewhere to go after work, where I could get some excercise whenever I felt like it (as if I ever „feel“ like excercising …), no matter the weather, did have have a certain appeal.

I started my journey to more fitness where I start pretty much everything: by researching on the internet. It came as a bit of a shock. It’s a fitness jungle out there: bodybuilding, functional training, cross fitness, personal training, calithenics … millions of sites with pictures of perfect bodies and promises that you could get slim, strong and healthy if you only followed diet x and training plan y. I had no idea that fitness was such a huge business. (Again … I was born in the early 70s and grew up at a time that fitness was called „Trimm dich“ in Germany and happened in the parks and woods, trainers were the cheapest shoes you could buy and any t-shirt that had become too worn for normal use was considered a suitable training outfit).

I also noticed that I am not in the most common target group for fitness programs: I don’t need to lose weight. I am not after a bikini figure either (actually, the number of times I have been to a beach in the last ten years or so is very limited and even then I was never arrested for being too ugly to walk there). I don’t need a sixpack (even though I do admit it would be cool to have one) or a firmer „booty“ (as with the sixpack, I’d happily take it, of course … I have booty aplenty, firmness not so much). What I want is a longer tee-shot (yes, golf again … did you really think you would get away with a full blog entry without golf?) and to overcome my personal feeling of inaptness at all things sport.

Also, if you believe the articles on female fitness, the most common concern that women seem to have is that they could get too muscular. Not a fear of mine. I know myself and my body. I’m a hard gainer. That’s true for bodyfat (thankfully), but also for muscle. It is very difficult to throw my body out of its equilibrium. No matter how much weight I lifted, my body would never get „too muscular“. And aesthetically I would always prefer a strong, athletic body over a skinny one. If this wombat becomes more of a wolverine by working out, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to be a weasel. Actually, I don’t even mind staying a wombat. As long as this wombat can do push-ups and pull-ups and hit the golf ball over 200 yards, that’s fine with me.

Going to the gym for the first time was weird. Actually, it was so weird that I decided right away to never do it again. After the first shock had passed, though, I reconsidered and tried another gym and that proved to be a bit more wombat friendly. It is also pretty cheap, with only 15 € a month. So I took the plunge and signed up for a one year membership.

At the moment I am using mostly weight machines to build up my back and core muscles. It’s what Johnny, the trainer at the gym, recommended and put on my training plan. Of course I would rather do cool, full body excercises like squats or pull-ups, but after a few rather pathetic attempts I had to admit to myself, that those are probably better kept as something to look forward to in the future. So I decided to just follow that training plan for now and see where it leads me. It seems to be doing something, because I could add some weight on all of the machines already.

I am also supposed to do a little bit of cardio after every workout and one pure cardio workout per week, but I must admit, that I normally can’t be bothered and the fact that I walk to the gym and back (which involves a steep hill with stairs) while everyone else just flops into his or her car has to be good enough. Sometimes I manage to time the weight training so that I can do a Zumba course directly afterwards. That is much more fun than just cycling in place. I also love the Yogilatix course (as the name suggests, it’s a mix of Yoga and Pilates excercises).

I am surprised how much I enjoy it, to be honest. I go to the gym three times a week at the moment, and I would go even more often if my body felt like it could handle it. But I don’t want to overdo it and have decided to allow myself to ease into it and give myself enough rest days in between.

As I said, I am not in this to lose weight. And yet I have started to change my diet. I didn’t even plan for this. I just feel a greater need for real, home cooked food now. And I eat so much more meat, it is untrue. Must be all that protein that my body uses to build those new muscles of mine.

Juni 2023