Category Archives: Fun

Gyms and personal training

So I have a dilemma with exercise that I suspect a lot of people share: I’d ultimately like to have access to the facilities that many gyms offer, both the weights and the exercise classes, but the whole surrounding consumer setup is completely offputting to me.

First of course is the price structure, where they take money whether or not I use the gym. Smooth, gyms, smooth. (Yes, I am aware that they make more money — I assume far more, given how bad it is for customer perceptions of their industry — that way. But I am not interested in gyms’ profitability, in capitalism I highly value my right to be an utterly selfish consumer in that respect.) So, yeah. Is my (realistically) once-a-week-with-occasional-skips use of a gym worth $30 a week to me? No.

Assuming I got past that, here’s what needs to happen, for example, for me to join Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre’s gym, which is most likely because I’d like access to their pool rather than paying for a gym and a pool. First, I need to go there with my husband, because it would be a joint membership. OK, there go about ninety-five percent of my trips there. Secondly, my husband must either not be in a hurry to get back to work, or we must not have our bored toddler fussing at us. So, that’s the remaining five percent of trips. Then, once I did sign up, there’s compulsory personal training sessions focusing on my fitness goals. I can’t think of anything I find less inspiring, than to discuss my fitness goal “I enjoy moving my body sometimes” with people who are trained to equate fitness goals with either “I want to achieve top percentile cardiovascular or strength performance” or “I want to lose a fair chunk of weight”. I rather suspect this mismatch is deliberate too, because there’s no better customer than one who has been persuaded that they really need to keep this gym membership… for the far-away day that the sense of being too inferior a body to use the gym goes away.

Some fun for 2011

Things I plan to do!

  • visit the Canberra area at some point, as we know several people there and want to spend more time with all of them. I’m currently thinking sometime in March.
  • have someone(s) over for dinner several times, maybe every other month or so.
  • join a gym. I realise this doesn’t fall under the category of “fun” in many of these lists, but YOGA CLASSES and maybe a chance to try pilates and maybe Zumba and free weights. I miss the pool already dammit.
  • occasional shore diving, probably with a local-ish club (Frog Dive?).
  • at long last, five years after we started on swimming fitness, I’d like to do PADI Rescue Diver, ideally combined with a Nitrox course. That, barring perhaps PADI Deep, will likely be the last SCUBA course I do in the foreseeable future. As a prerequisite, this requires renewing our First Aid certification, which is a February todo.
  • some kind of organised parent-kid thing with Vincent: book group or something like that.

Things I’d love to do, but realistically… we’ll see. I definitely won’t do all these things.

  • Travel to the US/Canada. I’d like to visit Liga, spend some time in the mountains, go to one or two great conferences… This will probably happen sometime in or before 2013, but I don’t know that it will be 2011.
  • Go to the snow again. And maybe level up in snowboarding again. Or work out if I should be on skis instead.
  • Baby swimming lessons for Vincent.

Reverb 10: Community, Beautifully Different, Party

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

The Geek Feminism community has been my big community in 2010 (and late 2009). It leaks nicely into the personal, expanding my undead army of feminists, and of friends.

In 2011, I really hope to make more contact with other parents of young children. I’m picky about this, I probably basically want to hang out with feminist parents, but I live in an uncongenial location physically.

Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

Saving this kind of question for therapy?

Actually, being snarky is all too common. I find this question really hard: I am much more able to identify things that I share with other people than ways I differ from them. Here’s some things that are different about me, I suppose beautiful is in the eye of the beholder:

  • I’m extremely tall for a woman.
  • Despite being born and raised in Australia (by parents who were likewise, but it doesn’t matter much for accent) I do not sound Australian to people who live here, and constantly have awkward conversations about where I’m from.
  • I am quite fearful of heights, but am and always have been perfectly happy in deep water. (Except, just once, watching divers descend in extremely clear water, as it looked like they were falling.) I do not find spiders, snakes or sharks especially scary either.
  • I need (or vastly prefer) a couple of hours of screen or book time a day for relaxation purposes.

I honestly cannot answer a question about what I do that lights people up.

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

I conceived and threw what I called “Party of Three”, which was in May celebrating Andrew’s third decade, Vincent’s third month, our third year of marriage, and becoming a family of three. Excellent conceit: I can’t think that I can repeat the pattern for anyone’s fortieth. We went to Shark Island as for Andrew’s twenty-first and had a slow picnic in the heat of an autumn day. It was beautiful.

I don’t know where I will be living this time next year, possibly not in Sydney at all. So it’s good to take advantage of the harbour while we’re here.

Self-guided diving

I went scuba diving yesterday. I normally dive in and around Sydney, which is coolish temperate water (20℃ yesterday, ranges are 16–23℃ over the year) and provision of dive guides for everyone on the boat is fairly standard at least with the shops I dive with. It’s quite common to meet people with 20 to 30 dives experience who have never dived only with a buddy.

Andrew and I were thrown in the deep end with Queensland diving. We learned to dive in Thailand, which many people don’t recommend (because the diving is comparatively easy) but I do recommend (because… the diving is comparatively easy, so you don’t get scared off as much). We then did a single dive in Sydney and then Advanced Open Water and then a liveaboard off Cairns, on which every diver was expected to self-guide.

And ever since then I’ve preferred it. Reasons:

  1. Yesterday, I dived in a group. I got kicked in the face with fins twice, and kneed in the head once. I also think I kneed someone else in the head or back. Divers have a restricted field of vision and are somewhat awkward about turning. Tangles are hard to avoid.
  2. Yesterday, our group was eight people. We were queuing to see anything interesting. If that interesting thing was in motion, the last six people didn’t get to see it.
  3. Queues go double if half the divers have cameras with them. (Some photogs believe they should go last, since they will look for so long. Some believe they should get first look, so as not to have other divers in the shot.)
  4. I try not to get too uptight about purist diver sentiments, in which you must do the hardest reasonably accessible dives and diving style in order to be considered safe or respectable and so on, but I have enjoyed forcing my underwater (landmark based) navigation to improve by not following a site expert around.
  5. Some dive guides (not yesterday’s) are really bad at their job. They won’t turn back when someone’s air is low-ish, they get lost themselves. (Divemasters are often backpackers, not necessarily local experts.) Sometimes their air consumption is worse than mine. There’s nothing less fun than chasing down Speedy the Dive Guide to say you’ve reached the agreed air mark, and to use another 10% of your original air in the chase.
  6. It’s rare that they communicate the details of the dive plan. “We’ll look at the sharks,” is one thing. I dive tables, not computers, and I need to know that there will be a loop back past the boat in time for my timed dive ending (I usually run out of time before air, on air tables). And I hate the practice many dive guides have of reviewing everyone’s air about three quarters of the way into the dive and signalling to people to re-buddy with air matches. My buddy is my spare air, I want to have talked with them before the dive at the very least, and to have the same buddy throughout the dive, not to be paired with Air Matched Random Diver.

Sometimes a guide is unavoidable, for example, in the Similan Islands there are so many boats around, each launching multiple dinghies with outboard motors. And groups aren’t such a nuisance in the tropics, as the vastly improved visibility means that you aren’t all on top of each other. But generally speaking I’m happy diving in pairs.