Shockingly, this post IS about fitness. As some of you might have read, I am currently running around the world, staying with friends and family, and figuring out exactly where I want to live next. There are a LOT of things that play into where I’m considering and where I’ll end up, but one thing is certain: my needs for where I will live after I find my dream job are always going to be the same.
As a brief reminder, I have Multiple Sclerosis, and my triggers are heat, overheating and over-exertion. And it seems stress (emotional as well as physical) might be another trigger as well, but that one usually just comes in conjunction with the heat, so we can’t be sure. Because of this, there are a few things I have to have, in order to live comfortably:
if I’m not on the ground floor, an elevator
a pool (because cold bath tubs are not nearly as much fun, and swimming is the only exercise I can really do WHEN relapsing)
On top of what is necessary to my health, I’m a bit of a diva. So I also want:
a bath tub
a big closet (or three)
a bathroom with a window (I learned this in Germany)
a fitness studio (so I don’t have to pay for a membership, oh yeah and AC on top of that)
a locked/gated entry (thank you, Baltimore, for this one)
a balcony without a fire escape (Baltimore again, look up ‘the snuggler’)
if things break, they need to be fixed YESTERDAY.
All of these things, especially that last requirement, only really add up to one thing: apartment complexes owned by companies rather than private landlords. I’ve had my fair share of slum lords and absentees, and I now know enough to know that if my AC breaks, that shit better get fixed ASAP if I don’t want to relapse or have too many MS symptoms in the summer months. The things I want but don’t need will keep my stress level to a minimum, and I won’t over exert myself doing the dishes every night if I’ve got a dishwasher, and won’t have to walk or drive too far with my laundry if the washer is in my hallway. These things are necessary to my health by default!
Over the past month, I’ve had the luxury of trying many different living situations on, which is known to some as ‘couch-surfing’. I’ve gone above and beyond couches, however, and have gone straight to guest bedrooms, which I thoroughly appreciate. I have gone running in five different neighborhoods, in two countries and 3 states here in the USA. After having stayed in single-family homes, row homes, and apartments of different sizes, it has become apparent that all of the things on my list are absolutely necessary. More so NOW (this past week) than before.
The major issue I’ve come across in the past three weeks has been running. Running outside, and running with someone who is much faster than I am (due to a height difference as well as a speed difference). I’m currently training SOMEONE ELSE to run a 5-mile race in July which I will NOT take part in, due to my obvious heat constraints. And I’m in the DC-area, which means the temperature today was about 85 degrees. I’d like to remind our readers that 85 was about as hot as it ever got in Germany in high summer, and that nearly killed me. So the fact that it was 85 already today IN MAY means that my outdoor running is coming to an end for the year, if I stay in this area, even if other people are JUST starting to run outside because it’s warmer out.
As of today, I’ve been running for about 3 weeks on the Couch to 10k program, and am in week 5 of the training. All of my runs for the past 2 weeks were done outside, before 11am, and they were BRUTAL, thanks to the heat. This week, I took advantage of the treadmills in the in-house gym that is RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL from us in our current apartment, and I have to say, a treadmill is of ABSOLUTE importance for me.
I used to HATE treadmills. The ‘staying in one place’ thing was ALMOST as bad as running in circles on my high school track and seeing the same stuff all the time. That ‘no progress made’ feeling that comes from the scenery always staying the same killed me. It was almost as bad as being on the school soccer team and almost never getting to play (true story!).
But this time around, now that I have been running outside and have had to move my times earlier and earlier, I’m finally starting to see the advantages.
I can track my calories burned just as I did on the pedometer, which is nice. I can also track my heart rate whenever I want, also helpful to make sure I am in-range and NOT overdoing it.
There are fans inside. And a TV if I want to watch it.
I can run or work out whenever I want and not have to be concerned about the weather, or safety issues, or darkness, waking the neighbors or roommates, etc.
The person I run with is MILES faster than me, but I’m the trainer. When we run next to each other outside, I am CLEARLY slowing him down because he’s running at my pace rather than his own. When we run next to each other on treadmills, I can still run next to him at 5 mph while he’s topping out at 7mph. This is great, because now I don’t feel like I’m holding him back, and he’s getting a better workout along with the support I’m giving him while running beside him.
I run with the image of the oval track (400 meters around) in front of me while he runs with the 5k nature trail image in front of him. I run at an incline of 1 or 2 while he’s running on a zero-incline setting. I walk once in a while, and he never stops. So we’re running two very different courses at two very different paces, but still together, which is great for motivation and lack of boredom!
If it hadn’t been for trying it, I might have found a job and a place to live nearby and settled for NOT having a fitness studio in the complex. After this week, I know I can’t possibly live anywhere without one of these nearby. I used to belong to a gym that was right across the street from my job, and the worst part of it wasn’t the going part, but the ‘finding the time or motivation after or before work, and bringing all of my shower shit with me’. After living across the hall from the gym, I understand why now. If there is one thing I hate, it’s carrying all of my toiletries. Just ask my friends who are holding toiletries boxes in Japan or England or MD! Living in the same building as the gym will solve that problem, easily. Because let’s face it, I don’t want to buy or MOVE a treadmill for personal use!
The point of my post today wasn’t to tell you to live across the hall from the gym. While that might be what I learned this past month, what this post is really about is NOT settling, and understanding your own motivations. I love to run, and in the summer I can’t do that unless I’m in Alaska or Scandinavia, or indoors. If I want to keep running, it has to be indoors during the summer months, and my schedule doesn’t often allow for too many outside or far-away activities. To nip that problem in the bud, I need to live very close to the gym. So for me personally, I can’t settle on any space that doesn’t have a fitness center attached to it or right next door.
I also can’t live in a building on the 2nd of 23rd floor unless there’s an elevator, thanks to my MS. If I ever relapse, stairs won’t happen. They don’t. So an elevator is as important to me personally as a gym is.
For me, FitFreedom is as much about being free from hindrances as it is about being free from monthly membership fees. And now that I’m at a point in my life where I can make changes for the better, I’m going to do all that I can to NOT settle for less than I’m happy with and I need. That money I’ll save on a yearly gym membership can be moved right over to paying a little more in rent per month (if necessary) in order to NOT have to worry about the weather or heat exhaustion on workout days in the city of my choice.
What are your priorities?