Getting my workout on at the PEC

Physical Education Centre at Queen's University Belfast

Over the past year, I worked myself into fairly good shape, dropping more than a few pounds and turning my spare tire into a run-flat spare. Marilynn says I look mighty fine, which makes the effort worth every drop of sweat, every lap in the pool and every crunch performed under the watchful eyes of the very fit and very perky Body Pump instructor.

The past few months, however, have been fairly rough on my exercise routine, a combination of my bad back flaring up and the sheer amount of gargantuan, huge, medium, small and tiny tasks that had to be completed before making this trip.

But I was determined to maintain a workout regime, so Marilynn had already checked out the Queen’s Physical Education Center, known as Queen’s Sport. I also love that it’s full name can be shortened to PEC. Get it? Like the Ted, the former home of the Atlanta Braves.

“I’m going to the PEC to get my workout on!”

Since I paid nearly $200 US for the privilege of working out at the PEC, those workouts began immediately. Because Queen’s gives exams at the PEC, the swimming pool has really odd hours this week. It’s open 6:30-9 a.m., then again from 12:30-2. I’m not a morning person, so the first session was out.

So, on Tuesday,  I gathered all of the necessary stuff for a slightly-past-midday trip to the pool and set off. Most of what happened hereafter was my fault, the result of “just one of those days.”

When I got to the gym, I couldn’t remember where the pool was. The PEC is a multi-level, multi-building facility that I’d toured at a breakneck pace with someone who obviously knew where he was going. So I asked a guy in the locker room, who pointed me in the right direction (and toward the locker room closer to the pool).

When I got there, I realized I hadn’t brought my pool shoes. Now I could have gone swimming and taken a shower without shoes, but I’m not a fan of foot fungus. No shoes = no swimming. “That’s OK, I can lift weights and do an elliptical machine,” I think to myself. So I returned to the first locker room, where I avoided the gaze of the guy who’d just given me directions.

Halfway down the long corridor to the elliptical machines, I realized I didn’t have my Fitbit. No sense working out if you don’t get credit for the steps, so I trek back to the locker room. I get the locker open OK but can’t figure out how to close it and retrieve the key.

The locker system works like getting a shopping cart at Aldi: insert quarter, retrieve cart, get quarter back when you return cart. Except you’re exchanging a one pound coin for the key. After much wrangling, I manage to find the returned coin, reinsert it and get the key. Half way back down the same corridor, I realize I don’t have my headphones. At least this time I knew how the locker worked.

And don’t even ask me about the shower. Suffice it to say that I would be seeing a little more humanity in the open shower facility than suits my tastes (not to mention my modesty). So I’ll be showering at home.

The actual working out part is pretty much the same as at home. No swinging sheep instead of kettle balls, for example. But the change of venue is throwing my whole game off, as evidenced by my first gym foray.

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