Indoor Sports

author : Scott Tinley
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Blame it on Dave Scott perhaps, a career-long advocate of strength training---that the benefits of working out with weights, mostly indoors, entered discussions on performance and training.

by Scott Tinley
  
Ironman World Champion, 1982 & 1985
Ironman Hall of Famer; Triathlon Hall of Famer

          By definition, a triathlete participates in three sports; each of the proscribed disciplines offering a unique contribution to the synergy of an outdoor endurance game. Swim, bike, and run in the sunshine. Yeah, baby. That’s what I signed up for!

          But somewhere along the way—blame it on Dave Scott perhaps, a career-long advocate of strength training---the benefits of working out with weights, mostly indoors, entered discussions on performance and training.

          How much should I lift? How often? What about form, reps, and seasonal timing? Will “gym work” make me too big? Too tight? Play havoc with my endurance and speed?

          These were the old questions I fondly remembered at a place I now lift weights. It’s no longer just a gym since they added outdoor fire pits and umbrellas.  And when they acquired a liquor license, a yoga guru, and fluffy white towels it became more than just a health club. At my spa you can get a Brazilian bikini wax between Haute Pilates and SEAL Training for MILFs. It ain’t cheap but I’ve grown to like it.

                                                *                             *                            *

          “Hey pal, can I work in with you?”

          “Excuse me?”

          “Yeah, can I work into your bench program? I’m doing pecks and deltoids today. You wanna’ spot me first?”

          It took me a few seconds but I finally figured out that the man with the Under Armor tank top and the soldier of fortune headband wanted to use the weight bench that I was lying on, that he was being polite and asking me if he could do a set of bench presses while I rested and gazed. It was gym-etiquette, I decided. And he knew gyms much better than me.

          But this is a spa, I thought, doesn’t everyone get their own custom weight bench? Feeling intimidated, afraid that I might get sucked into trying to lift more than my usual weight, which doesn’t really include weights just the long chrome bar, I said go ahead, I’m just finishing up.

          “Got to hurry off to a Feng Shui for Entrepreneurs class,” I lied.

          “No worries,” he was being nice in a naïve sort of way. “I warm up without weights all the time. Your form looks good. I’ll just put a couple of 25er’s on and we’ll work our way up from there. What do you think, pal?”

          And then he was lying there on the clean vinyl bench, his barrel chest growing out from under the leather weight belt, a male push-up bra, and I was spotting him. With each clean and even press of the bar, he blew a mint-smelling air upward, making a sound like a surfacing whale.

          “That’s twelve. Nice work,” I tried to sound confident and guided the heavy bar back on the rack, straining my back, trying not to show the terror that had lodged itself behind my eyes.

          “You’re up, little buddy.” He stood and moved around behind the bar, stopping briefly to wipe just enough of the sweat from the vinyl pad.

          “I got the bar, bro,” his confidence infectious. “Okay now, give me a nice and smooth twelve, working our way up. Yep, I feel good today. How about you, buddy boy?

          I felt like I had when I was thirteen and had brought home a puppy from a friend’s house without asking my mom; just told her the dog had followed me home and there was no collar and what were we gonna’ do? Send him to the pound to be put down every other Friday with all the other pound dogs? The hole that lie had put me in was digging itself deeper. And by the time it was over my head, I couldn’t see out to tell if they were coming with ladder or shovels.

          “I think I’ll just do six, you know, to make sure my shoulder injury from that Ultimate Fighting Match is healed up.”

          “Sure thing, mi amigo. Then we’ll put the big meat on and get some work done.”

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          I’ve had this love/hate thing going with gyms for as long as I was allowed in one. At St. Paul’s High School, I was thrown out of what was called “The Den” for almost dropping a fifteen pound dumbbell on the foot of Brian Clemens, a star football player. The P.E. coach banished me to circle the weedy running track until he came and got me, which come to think of it, he never did. Thirty-five years later, I still feel more comfortable outside in the elements that I can’t control than inside with heavy plates of metal and chrome that control me.

          But while my identity crisis has passed, most gyms struggle with what they are or at least who their market is. They call themselves health clubs or fitness centers. In an effort to attract endurance athletes and their consumptive patterns. They offer classes in Pilates for Pregnancy and Tai Chi for Parents of ADD Children. They have free flavored coffee available in the mornings and sell smoothies with egg whites in the afternoon. It seems a natural, inevitable process, this pendulum swing toward user-friendliness. I suppose it’s partly following market trends, partly a techie thing, and mostly just good business--you know, giving athletes what they want.

          As an Old School endurance athlete however, when it comes to gyms and weight lifting and Yoga for the Middle Manager, I’m not sure we really know what we want. My wife has drug me to a couple of spin classes and with the pounding classic rock and the staccato rah-rah of the head spinner person who is a either an ex-Marine drill sergeant or a wash-out from The Voice, I didn’t know whether to get up and dance or go down the hall and sign up for Anger Management Tae Kwon Do. And I kept looking for the sun outside the windows to get my bearings, kept trying to turn the damn spinner bike.

          I know that when it comes to carrying a kid on your shoulders at a theme park or retaining your running form in the last few miles of a race, strength is a good thing. Endurance athletes are supposed to endure. It comes with the title. But now, as my natural strength fades, I’m learning to rebuild it artificially with machines that have levers and gears and nicely-drawn images depicting the proper way to use them. I’m still wrestling with the idea of free weights, though. Building biceps certainly takes some investment. And a six pack ain’t free.

          Multi-sport athletes might do well to try out these new designer gym/spas. Those long, lonely runs, while good for the soul, are still long and still lonely. I know that if I was single I’d put more time in at our spa/club. It does help take some of the guess work out of the dating game. There are rules here, for Christ’s sake.

          I don’t know; I’m working without a net here, trying to envision where a Rocky-style gym, a spa/club with valet parking, and everything in between, might fit with the generalized program of an endurance athlete whose primary goal is to go straight ahead with their head down and their pain threshold up. A gym/club/spa is a bit of a slip sideways for the linear jocks and jockettes, even with the manly steam rooms and the optional Lifestyle Lift package.

          But the idea of having a place to go to train has grown on me, mostly because the range of my rides and runs has come in so close that my kids can open the window and yell when dinner is ready. Writing and correcting essays is one thing, cabin fever is another. Off to the gym sounds good when there are chores to be done.

          And I’m leaning towards a class as well, something with the word “balance” in it, or “flexibility” or maybe “sports bar.” Yep, I could end up a gym rat after all, laughing at the cold rain, donning gold chains, using the free shampoo, the free razors, the free coffee…and with some work, the free weights. 

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date: December 19, 2012

Scott Tinley

As the sport of triathlon gained in popularity Scott turned pro in 1983. Between those early years and his move back to the amateur ranks in 1999, Tinley competed in over 400 triathlons, winning close to 100 of them, making him one of the top three winning triathletes of all time.

He won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Near the end of his professional career he helped found and develop the sport of offroad triathlon and continues to co-own and manage the longest running offroad triathlon in the world, Scott Tinley’s Adventures in San Luis Obispo, California.

Scott Tinley's Website

avatarScott Tinley

As the sport of triathlon gained in popularity Scott turned pro in 1983. Between those early years and his move back to the amateur ranks in 1999, Tinley competed in over 400 triathlons, winning close to 100 of them, making him one of the top three winning triathletes of all time.

He won the Ironman World Championship twice (1982, 1985) and the Ironman World Series three times. He was inducted into both the Triathlon and Ironman Hall of Fame upon retirement in 1999.

Near the end of his professional career he helped found and develop the sport of offroad triathlon and continues to co-own and manage the longest running offroad triathlon in the world, Scott Tinley’s Adventures in San Luis Obispo, California.

Scott Tinley's Website

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