My Pennsylvania Workouts

Why so quiet? It’s a question us introverts hate, but I’ll admit the blog has been a bit of a ghost town the past few days. I’m in Allentown, Pennsylvania teaching a writing workshop at the International Women’s Writer’s Guild Summer Conference. I’m also staying in a dorm—the kind that didn’t really exist at my urban university all those years ago. I’m talking tiny single bed, shared “bathroom” and “kitchen” (trust me, the quotations are very necessary) and ivy on the brick, historic buildings.

I’m not sure if my body is rabidly protesting the red eye flight or what, but this has been my daily workout habits since I landed on Monday. But first, let’s talk about Monday. I lucked out on a direct flight from Portland to Philadelphia, landing at 6 a.m. There was an LA Fitness (my gym) just four miles from the airport. Surely that’s a sign to get in an hour of lifting and cardio, right?

I do not recommend a two-hour workout after sleeping one hour on a red eye. And, uh, this was unlike any LA Fitness I’ve ever seen. It had clearly been around the block a few times, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a full-fledged boxing ring in this chain. But hey, it got the job done. Or I did, by some miracle. However, the feeling of achievement that followed was quite nice. The two-hour drive in rush hour traffic afterward? Not so much.

Then the fun really began.

The schedule seems to be:

  • About 4 p.m. daily: My body says no more. I teach from 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m., which means a full day of exploration. And by full day, I mean until about 4. Then I work.
  • 3 a.m.: Apparently this is when my body wants to wake up here. I work until 4:30 a.m., then leave for the local LA Fitness which opens at 5 a.m.
  • 5 a.m.: I’ll be lifting every day I’m gone except Wednesday (because that’s just how this month’s hectic schedule pans out!). I prefer doing leg day, or as I call it “butt day,” in the group fitness room because I take up a lot of space. And some of my sets are admittedly weird looking when surrounded by large, power lifting men. However, this particular gym seems to be anti-air conditioning in the fitness room, keeping temperature controls literally under lock and key. When the average daily temps are nearing 100 with high humidity, that means I’m lifting in a sauna. (At least my abs are looking amazing since I can’t keep hydrated!).
  • 6 a.m.: Slam down some protein in the locker room before moving into an hour of cardio.
  • 7 a.m.: Completely get ready at the gym. This means hauling two bags in with me because I need to look semi-polished to teach. Right? Plus, I share a so-called bathroom with three other people on campus, so I figured I’d let them have it.
  • 10 a.m. and beyond: I’m trying to see as much of the nearby area as I can. Yesterday, that meant driving 90 minutes to Hershey to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World. Here’s a challenge: Go to a place called “Chocolate World” and don’t eat any chocolate! My cheat day is Saturday though, so I did custom make my own chocolate bar and get the most amazing looking Reese’s cookie.

It’s been a lot of walking, a lot of relative heat, and very little sleep. However, I’ve had to shake up my lifting routines a little since I don’t have my beloved ankle and wrist weights. I’m feeling the burn—internally and externally—on the east coast.

(Photo: Personal. A selfie at the chocolate-making room at Hershey’s Chocolate World).


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