It’s definitely an old-school gym, and it’s definitely just what I needed. The cardio equipment is in a small room – a few spinning bikes and get-real-fast step machines with iron air pumps. These bad boys are tough:
Maxi Gym in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, is perfect for me. I’ve slowly been easing off endless cardio and gradually lifting more weights. Running wasn’t working for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I love to jog. It puts me in a special place of peace and relaxation.
However, long runs are tough for me since my surgical biopsy. My breast doesn’t feel good flopping around for a long time (even in the tightest sports bra I can find). Guess that’s what happens when a large chunk of tissue is removed from your body. I talked to a woman who had breast surgery and it took her a year to fully recover! Maybe in another six months I’ll be jogging a 5k several times a week again.
Back in Oaxaca City I joined a gym to use cardio machines since I don’t want to run for long periods of time right now. That gym also had a wide assortment of weight machines. So, I started using those machines in addition to the elliptical. I think it was the Universe’s way of showing me a new way to stay fit – it was the perfect introduction for me to weight training. I used the weights on pullies in Oaxaca consistently for four weeks.
Here in Zihua (as the locals call it), there are no fancy, modern gyms in old town, where we temporarily live, but there are basic gyms with free weights and machines without computers. I looked at three gyms – all relatively similar – and I went with Maxi Gym because it was closest to the sea and they had the greatest assortment of gear. A two-week membership cost 150 pesos, or $8.34 USD at the exchange rate at the time of this writing.
Maxi Gym doesn’t have air conditioning – it is a sweat box. (Neither do the other two gyms I looked at, east of the main road away from the malecon and water.) So if you need A/C and machines with computers, this is not the place for you. Travelers have found more modern facilities in the massive mega-resorts up in Ixtapa, and from what I understand, you can work out some kind of deal for use of those facilities, but I have no experience with that. Maxi Gym is perfect for anyone serious about simple weights.
My plan was to start jogging the malecon and use Maxi Gym for weights. But the more I read about lifting, the more I go lighter on the cardio (for now), and stay more focused on weights. For the first week, I lifted for 30 minutes to 45 minutes a day and used that bad ass, old school, oh-my-god-it-makes-a-ton-of-noise stair stepper you saw in the picture above for 10 minutes a day. After I post this entry, I start week number two.
I am not lifting heavy weights by anyone’s standards. I’m still a relative weakling – having never trained with weights in my life. That’s ok. I’m in this for the long haul, especially since I have the time to devote to myself and my health as an early retired budget traveler. It’s a good idea for women to build muscle as they age. I’m especially interested as my perimenopause journey continues.
A note on protein intake, since I’m now vegetarian. I’m not vegan, so I get a lot of protein from milk, yogurt, cheese, and recently I started occasionally eating eggs again. I was still falling short of the recommended protein intake to build muscle, so I bought some protein powder.
I’m undecided on whether to buy more once this jar is gone. Without the powder, I was getting around 40 to 50 grams of protein a day, which is the recommended amount for average women. However, to build muscle, more protein is recommended. So with the powder, I’m at 65 to 75 a day. I can get up 85 if I’m mindful of eating more protein – like low-sugar yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, or some eggs.
Yet, powder’s risks are in the back of my mind, and as this article states, I agree that whole foods are better – for me it’s simply because it feels better. Maybe I’ll just have to force myself to eat more while I do this muscle-building experiment. I’m not trying to look like a bodybuilder, but I would like some polished guns and hard hammies — and I want to feel stronger.
If any vegetarian has any insight on protein intake and muscle building in middle-age, or if any woman who has started weight lifting later in life – at the perimenopausal stage – I’d love to hear your experience!
Meantime, if you’re looking for an old-school gym in Zihua, Maxi Gym has a Facebook page, and it’s right here. (Not all machines or free weights were pictured in this entry.)