Gift Guide 2021 #2 – Gym No More

This is the second installment of the Apt. 11D Gift Guide for 2021. Here’s the Intro. Part 1 was on investment clothing. Part 2 is about exercise and outdoor activity. Part 3 is about cooking.

Some time in late 2020, I stopped going to the gym. My old gym was never super clean on a good day, but knowledge that invisible viruses were invading the world was the final straw. So, I haven’t sat on a spin bike in nearly two years. Instead, I started taking daily hikes around the neighborhood and going with the family to bigger mountains on weekends. I began running again. (I want to run a marathon next year.)

Last summer when the temperatures were in the 90s, I joined a gym, so I had a place to go when the weather was too hot or too cold. Because I’m cheap, I chose a place with a $50 per month fee. I lasted two days. I was bored out of my mind. The treadmill was wobbly. The air was stale. The bathroom sinks were sticky. I cancelled the membership and got nailed with $200 of hidden fees.

Post pandemic, people seem to be slowly returning to the gym. Peloton sales are slumping. But gyms are still not back to pre-pandemic numbers.

Baring some luck with a Quick Pick Lottery ticket, I don’t think I would feel comfortable paying hundreds for a monthly gym membership at a fancy gym, and I refuse to go into another dirty gym, so I guess I’m staying outside. Our permanent gym boycott saves us over $2,000 per year, so I don’t feel any regrets about purchasing high end, high tech, moisture wicking, synthetic, wifi enabled, secret pocket gear.

So, I’m buying myself and my family lots of warm workout/running/hiking/skiing gear this year. I am looking on Facebook marketplace for second hand Pelotons and rowing machines for Steve. We’re a Fitbit family, but I also like Garmins and Apple Watches. For running, I use Brooks sneakers, compression cold weather leggings, headband, running gloves, and long sleeved t-shirt. For Steve’s post-work walk around the neighborhood, I’m making him wear a reflective vest. We’re going skiing in January, so I need to get everyone new ski pants and cute hats. Once the weather gets nicer, we’ll be in the woods in a tent with all the necessary gear.

PICTURE: Last summer we went camping in Roscoe, NY. More pictures here.

19 thoughts on “Gift Guide 2021 #2 – Gym No More

  1. ” I’m not sure where to draw the line between necessity and conspicuous consumption. Where do you cross over that line into grossness?” Look — a quote from 15 year old 11D (“Yuppie angst”). I love those self referential links at the bottom of your new posts, blasts from the past of very local history.

    I don’t spend much time thinking about crossing over into grossness, because I think people have a right to spend money on things that give them joy (whether it’s a flight into outer space, a 25 million dollar shore house, a Gucci bag, or an Ivko coatigan). As I’ve said, I think we should take people’s money away in the form of taxes and then let them spend what remains as they choose.

    I’ve been “upgrading” what I buy (though not as deliberately and not as an investment because I still get bored with things, so if I were to spend a lot of money on a bag I might still discard it, and so have limits on what I spend).

    I love that you are exercising outdoors, which seems to be a fit benefit of the closing of gyms and a return to your cross country roots.


  2. A little heads up for gift buyers:

    Crop tops are still trendy for the winter, so you might accidentally wind up buying 2/3 of a sweatshirt or sweater, rather than a whole sweatshirt/sweater.

    I came this close to making that mistake in GAP today.


  3. About a month ago, I was buying warm clothes and ski clothes for kids for our January ski trip to Idaho. This will be my high schooler’s first time skiing since he was a preschooler and my 3rd grader’s first time ever, so we were very short on warm clothes.

    At some point in the process of collecting warm clothes, I realized that fleece quarter zips are a perfectly adequate (and much more washable!) substitute for sweaters. I’m wearing a fleece quarter zip indoors right now and finding it a very nice weight for a chilly day.


  4. I’ve never been a gym-goer. I hate exercise at the best of times – and to be squashed into a space with a whole lot of other people looking at my (considerably less than perfect) body makes me come all over in prickles, like a heat rash.
    I also hate their taste in music, and despise having chirpy 20-something gym instructors (who have zero idea of the issues of at 50+ unfit woman, with very little spare time) tell me that I just need to ‘be committed’

    For a long time, I was a swimmer at the local pools, or the beach – but ran into the timing issue (either have to drag the child along – grumping all the time because he wanted to game; or find an alternative care arrangement for him) – so that fell by the wayside.
    And now, I’m highly suspicious of covered pools in a post-Covid environment (I have no science to back it – but it seems likely that a highly humid environment with little ventilation would be an ideal spreading zone)

    During Covid lockdowns I started walking, driven by the necessity of taking some responsibility for my health (weight ballooning with a combination of menopause and comfort or stress eating).
    And have tried to keep it up – although now the summer heat is hitting us, I’m walking at 6am, which is a lifestyle shock for this perennial ‘just another 10 minutes’ girl!
    But am still wearing the cheap exercise gear – buying good quality clothes feels like giving into the belief that I’m going to be this size for the forseeable future….

    Now that Mr 14 is (legally) old enough to be left on his own, I feel that I’ve got more options. But the time crunch is still real. My window of opportunity is realistically only very early morning, late afternoon (which hits the after-school crowd using the facilities or beaches and parks), and late evening (which doesn’t really feel safe, as a solo woman).


    1. Do I understand you correctly that NZ considers 13-year olds too young to be left alone? That is a mind blower. Here in Illinois, there is no specific age beyond 8 — it’s a matter of common sense. You will not be charged unless CPS can demonstrate that your particular child did not have the wherewhithal to be lefft alone. The lengh of time also matters. My daughters both took a babysitting course at the Ywca at 11, and were soon in charge of younger children, for money!


      1. It’s not quite mandated in law. But there is pretty strong legislative guidelines that under 14 years old may not be left alone without adequate supervision. Now, how that is defined is up to the courts. But *if* anything went wrong (and a child needed to call emergency services) – our equivalent of CPS would be down on the parent like a ton of bricks if a child was alone.

        I’ve felt fine leaving my son for increasing periods once he was about 10 – but was either walking locally (so could be back within 10-15 minutes) – or at the end of the phone (e.g. dropping work off) and again could be back within 15 minutes.

        Just as an illustration – when he was 6, he agitated to be allowed to walk home from the school bus stop (about a 5 minute walk – though there is one very busy road to cross). I agreed, and shadowed him for the first day, confirming that his road safety skills were up to it.
        On the first week he was flying solo – I had concerned phone calls from about 8 friends to let me know that M was walking home from school and was everything OK!

        And no one can baby-sit until they are at least 14 years old in NZ (well, who knows what goes on in families – but not babysitting other people’s kids)


  5. Ann wrote, “I also hate their taste in music, and despise having chirpy 20-something gym instructors (who have zero idea of the issues of at 50+ unfit woman, with very little spare time) tell me that I just need to ‘be committed.’”

    I’ve gone once to a number of different exercise classes…

    My exercise history is that I used to be a big walker, but with some foot issues. At some point about 8 years ago, we got an elliptical machine. Within two weeks, I’d given myself another foot injury (peroneal tendonitis) that still flares up from time to time. What with having two different kinds of foot problems, the page has turned on me walking a lot and I was at a loss. Meanwhile, middle aged metabolism was closing in…

    Just before the pandemic started, I had started seeing a trainer once a week (it’s about $20 per session at our college gym). I can’t say I was sorry to bid her adieu in March 2020…After I got my shots in spring 2021, I dutifully signed up again, and I’ve been seeing a different trainer once a week since then, except for summer break and other school breaks. Around the same time, I also started doing some yoga and strength training exercises from our Wii Fit 2-3 times a week. It’s been good. I can’t say that I’ve lost any weight, but I’m an increasingly strong, flexible fat 40-something lady who can do a 40 second plank and is hoping to do more.

    At some point, I just had to give up on simple, repetitive exercise and bring in some more variety, if only for self-preservation. That’s where a trainer has been very useful, because she’s good at providing variety, ratcheting things up, and figuring out foot-sparing exercises when I come in whining. Also, I wouldn’t otherwise have had a clue how to safely use the machines or weights.

    I was telling some mom friends about my experiences, and my BFF is considering asking her husband for some training sessions as her Christmas gift this year.

    In a perfect world, I’d see a trainer twice a week, but the money isn’t there yet. I can’t say it’s my favoritest thing (I do kind of enjoy my weeks off), but it’s been very good for me, and it would have been better if I had started years earlier.


    1. I also have my very athletic teenage son train me when he’s free, especially on Saturdays or during school breaks.

      We do the Wii Fit yoga and strength training together and he corrects my form and suggests new exercises.

      I pay him a modest fee (typically $3-$4 depending how many family members are participating), which he is saving for his 2023 senior trip to Italy.


  6. Check out the Concept2 rowing machine. It does not have a fancy display, but rock solid for a rower and just under $1,000. You’ll see them in all the CrossFit boxes.

    Muscle goes away as you age (I know, I’m 52). Barbell training with compound movements (squat, deadlift, press, bench).

    You can build a really good home/garage gym for the price of a year or two at a commercial gym with equipment that will literally last a lifetime. You can buy a bunch of equipment, but can get away with a squat rack/stand, barbell, and bumper plates.

    There are great review of lots of equipment on this site:


    1. Amy P said “but something large would need to leave our home first.”

      In our house that would probably be me!


      1. Ann wrote, “In our house that would probably be me!”


        In our house, it’s probably the @#$%^& elliptical machine.


Comments are closed.