reclaimed spaces …


I belong to the Vancouver Racquets Club, an unpretentious athletic club in my neighbourhood. In years past, I was a competitive squash player. These days, I train for cycling in the gym.

There are two squash games. The International version played on a wider court with a softer ball and, the North American game played on a narrower court with a harder ball. In the 1990s, the North American game fell out of favour. The VRC has courts for playing doubles, International and North American singles. When demand for the North American game began to decline, the club converted the courts into a workout gym. Fortunately, the courts were beside one another. An opening was built between them, a glass wall and doors were installed to open up the space and cardio & weight training equipment was installed.

I like the space. It is seldom busy. This is not a macho gym. A good mix of men and women of all ages use the facility. We even have a personal trainer available. Initially, there were no spinning bikes, just the traditional cardio, sit up bikes. I petitioned the club to acquire a proper spinning bike. We purchased one with the intent to add more as necessary. Interestingly, it is hardly used. I think of it as my bike. It seems I am the only regular user. It appears racquet sports and cycling don’t mix. The tread mills and step machines are busy but the spinner, not so much.

I usually cycle to the gym. And, I am not the only one. You wouldn’t know it from the picture above but the bike racks are usually filled. These members don’t spin in the gym often but there are a number of serious cyclists among them.

If I were ever to build a home gym (and I have considered it) it would be like the club’s gym. It wouldn’t be too big, only include equipment I need and would reclaim unused space. I always hesitate because the club has features I can’t replicate. A steam room. A sauna. A wide selection of beer. And, a social aspect that keeps me motivated. I hang out with a group of like minded people, learn the most effective training techniques and, improve my fitness at the same time.

Yesterday, I completed an 85 km ride in preparation for the Pacific Populaire, the first century of the season. Throughout the winter months, I have been training in the gym for this event. I commit to the ride because it keeps me training during the colder, wet months. I know my legs and engine can complete the century. It’s my butt I worry about. I have not been on the bike much in recent months. A 60 minute workout on a spinner or trainer is nothing like a 3-4 hour ride.

I was pleasantly surprised with yesterday’s ride. Although only 85 km, it was more difficult ride than the upcoming century. I finished the ride with a 3 km climb that was relatively easy. I am confident I can complete the century and am in better shape than any previous year thanks to the many hours spent in my gym.

Even my butt felt fine.


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