Gyms – motivation and calories

Published on 20 September 2008 in , , , ,

It’s coming up for three years since I joined the gym, which is conveniently located a mere five minute walk from our house. And I’ve been a regular visitor ever since, with a target of going 3 times a week to either work out or swim. A target that I usually meet.

One of the things that’s spurred me on recently was the addition on an iPod Shuffle which I pre-loaded with a batch of fantastic songs with great beats for working out to. It’s like your own personal motivator – I just shove it on random and let the tunes take me away.

Prior to that I’d been watching TV instead, but frankly Saturday Kitchen doesn’t make you want to work that bit harder, and Countryfile doesn’t really give you the encouragment to get yourself sweating more. All a sharp contrast to The Chemical Brothers, which frankly seem to be the best band in the world for providing gym songs (although The Go! Team aren’t far behind.) There’s nothing more guaranteed to get me to whack up the level and really start going than “All Rights Reserved” – it doesn’t matter how knackered I am, I will always find a major burst of energy as I start miming “It never stops, and no one’s stopping”. If I could get away with singing to the whole gym, believe me, I would.

The addition of the old iPod Shuffle really has seen my gym regime increase. Previously a good day would see me burn around 500-550 calories per session – now a good day will be 650-700 which is around a 30% boost. And it’s all thanks to some fantastic music.

Now frankly I was pretty happy with that amount. It was a good amount. It’s about the same as two and a quarter Mars bars after all. That works.

But was it accurate? These were the values that the machines were claiming but was I really burning it off.

Today I wore a Polar heart rate monitor for the first time (a present from Catherine). I set it all up correctly, and gave it a go.

Having a slightly churny stomach (perhaps related to too much red wine the night before), today saw only a “medium” work out – back to Saturday Kitchen-esque levels, burning off apparently 551 calories. Reasonable.

I looked at the heart rate monitor to see what it thought – actually expecting it to be less because I thought the machines would probably be overestimating.

Actually, the heart rate monitor reckoned I had actually burnt off a whopping 764 calories – over 200 more than I’d previously believed.

Instead of burning off one and three quarters of a Mars bar, I’d done two point five. Not that I actually eat Mars bars often. In fact I probably have about one a year, and that’s made up of the mini versions you find in boxes of Celebrations.

Is this a one off due to me pressing the wrong button or something? Or have I just been quietly burning off more calories than I thought for years? Either way, it’s motivational and I can’t wait to see what a normal workout results bring!