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Tag: exercise

I’d been swimming in the ocean several times since coming to Taiwan, but yesterday was the first time I ever went to a swimming pool in Taiwan. I went to the Nángǎng public sports center.

Price

It was pretty reasonable, probably about 80% of the price it used to cost me to go to public sports centers in Colorado, back in 2001. It cost 110NT to get in, plus 10Nt for a locker key. The place had a weight room, which I didn’t look at, a pool, a sauna, and maybe some other stuff.

The Facilities

The pool wasn’t bad. It was 1.1 meters deep and 25 meters long, with several lanes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a deep area. There were also a couple of hot tubs of varying temperatures.

The Experience

The experience was absolutely terrible. They insisted that I wear a swim cap. Supposedly this was for the reason of sanitation!!? I’ve been swimming since the age of four, and swam on my high school team and had never heard any sort of rule like that. Even if they’re just worried about long hair clogging their drains, it wouldn’t make sense. The hair on my head is shorter than my body hair. Having no other option, I bought a cap there. It was way too tight. I bought the biggest one, but my noggin is 61cm around and there’s only so much those things stretch.

Stoically, I put the damned thing on an headed out to the pool. Then some guy came running up to me and said I couldn’t go in because they didn’t like my swimsuit. It’s a completely normal pair of men’s swim trunks, with pull-strings, netting inside, etc. But it was against pool regulations. It had pockets. It wasn’t form fitting either. They only allowed speedos, or other form-fitting swimwear.

At that point, I just had to ask. Why, oh why, would swim trunks be banned at the pool? I asked politely, explaining that I’d buy their swimsuit, but that I’d been swimming all my life and hadn’t ever heard of these sorts of rules before. The answer? Other swimmers would be “shocked” if they saw someone in swim trunks. After changing into “acceptable” swimwear that resembled spandex shorts, I was a bit self-conscious at how blatantly the outline of each part of my anatomy was visible through the super thin and flexible fabric, but I guess if not seeing it would be “shocking” for all my fellow swimmers, then it was the responsible thing to do.

Aside from the rules and the fact that it was a bit crowded, the pool was okay. I really like swimming, and it’s close to where I live. If I can find a comfortable swim cap, I might go back. On the other hand, maybe I’d rather do some other activity that isn’t so highly regulated.

Once again, I find myself looking back on a year past, remembering what I’ve done and evaluating the changes in my life. A year really is an arbitrary measurement, but it’s a familiar one and one that’s easy to use as a metric.

Last New Year’s

I don’t think I really did any sort of systematic goal setting during the last new year. At the time, I was having too much fun hanging out with my girlfriend of the time, working on the school and reading the sci-fi books Poagao had lent me.

I do remember what my goals were, though. I wanted to really turn the school into something great– not just a competitive business, but something my students would someday look back upon and consider to have changed their lives for the better.

I wasn’t too terribly focused on learning Chinese at that point. I was already well past the level required for daily living, and I’d finished my two children’s books that I’d assigned myself on my 28th birthday. My social life was also great, especially during the summer while Eric was in town.

I think fitness was something of a minor goal, but I can’t remember too well.

Progress with the school

The one thing I put the most of my heart into, the school, has done relatively well. It’s still not really making much money, but I’m really, really happy with the quality of the education. My highest level class, which I took from absolute beginners 2 years ago, has read over a dozen level two graded readers (OUP, Penguin and Cambridge), and had few problems understanding a level 3 reader, Sleepy Hollow, entirely from listening to its accompanying CD. Not bad for just 4 class hours a week for two years.

The parents seem to be pleased, too. I still have 80% of the students from my very first class that I opened just over two years ago. One who had left for a year even came back this summer!

It’s a bit difficult to calculate school growth, though. Some of the growth in the size of the school was bought and probably at a higher price than we should have paid when we bought out Ding’s. With the school came a lot of students, many who left when we moved in, and a couple of part time teachers, one of whom is still with us.

Just looking at the total number of students in our evening classes, our growth is an astounding +181% from December 2007 to December 2008. A fairer comparison would be to look at just the number of students in my own evening classes, and that comes up to a less impressive +84% over the past year. The afternoon classes, which I taught for the last two years, but which a new teacher has taken over for this year are up about 40%. Student numbers for our advanced classes have been pretty flat, but we’ve revised our definition of “advanced” sharply upwards.

Being such a small school, growth is pretty easy to come by. The coming year will be the real test. If we can grow by anything like the same rate this coming year, then it will be clear we’re offering something people really want.

Other stuff

I made limited progress in terms of Chinese learning or getting in better shape.

I’m working my way through a children’s book, which seems devoted to making sure Taiwanese children believe in precursor civilizations, the Loch Ness Monster, the bermuda triangle and the existence of great pyramids and a sphinx on Mars. I’m only reading a few pages a week, though.

I’ve been running once or twice a week, but I push myself hard occasionally. My resting pulse is now down from about 67 to 55, and my blood pressure is now on the low end of normal, but I have pretty much the same weight as before.

Goals

For the time being, I feel content to continue down my current path. I do want to see if I can start using my Japanese a bit more than I have been, though. Watching Heroes, all the parts with Hiro Nakamura and his adventures have been making me think about looking for a conversation partner some podcasts and a JLPT study guide.

Other New Year Posts:
Thoughts on 2008(yuehan.org)

I came across a very interesting article today.

Not only does this finding help explain why the brain is able to work properly when the body’s demands for fuel and oxygen are highest, but it goes a step further to show that the brain actually shifts into a higher gear in terms of activity. This opens doors to entirely new areas of brain research related to understanding lactate’s specific neurological effects.

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: During exercise, the human brain shifts into high gear on ‘alternative energy’

Very interesting. I had read speculation that the brain could run off of lactate in an emergency, but I’d had no idea it was common during exercise. It’s also interesting to note that the brain operates at a higher level of activity while burning lactate. I wonder if this might play a role in exercise induced neurogenesis.

Things have been busier than ever at work. I had to meet a new student at 2:00 to help her with a homework assignment that she didn’t understand how to do. From then on, it I was pretty much constantly dealing with parents of students who were originally at Ding’s before the buyout. Some of them are understandably feeling uncomfortable with the school changing management. From their perspective, they paid tuition in advance and then the owners suddenly decided to sell the school. I’ve been doing what I can to make sure that their kids’ classes aren’t affected too much by that, but beyond that it just takes some face time to give them reassurance.
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Cross posted from Toshuo Diet
After a late night of walking all over this wonderful city, beer can in hand and replacing my drink at a convenience store each time it ran out, I couldn’t stay asleep this morning. So, I got up at 9AM. Considering that I’m a self-avowed night owl, getting up at 9AM is pretty amazing. I bought a Mr. Brown Coffee, and a liter of water and hit the gym!
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This week was “Walk to School Week. The 國語日報 had an article on it:

為了宣導小朋友走路上學的好處,臺北縣市,高雄市選定本週作為”走路上學週”,昨天一大早,台北市教育局長吳清基就站在文昌國小校門口,一一為小朋友的”走路上學週護照”貼上認證貼紙; 台北縣長周錫瑋也到江翠國小擔任一日導護志工.

許多原先騎車,開車帶著小朋友上學的家長,遠遠的就讓小孩下車,讓小朋友經由”安全走廊”自己進入校園.

This is great! The government has decided to declare “Walk to School Week” to draw attention to the benefits of walking to school. Top officials are even standing at the gates of schools to give the kids who walk stickers to put in their “Walk to School Passports”. So what’s the response? Numerous parents who normally drive their kids to school are dropping them off a ways away from school and letting them walk the rest of the way. While I doubt this program will have much success, I’m all for seeing exercise and environmentalism promoted.

I’ll add pinyin popups and translations soon.

I haven’t started my diet yet, but I have been taking advantage of my gym membership now that I live in a city that actually has gyms. I have two basic sorts of weightlifting workouts. My “pushing” workout consists of bench presses, dumbbell shoulder raises, dips, and a tricep isolation exercise. My “pulling” workout consists of lat pulls, rows, and bicep curls. I also have two basic running workouts. My “short” runs are 10 minutes long and I try to keep my heart rate around 180 beats per minute. My “normal” runs are 40 minutes long and I try to run at 80% of the speed of my most recent short runs. Here’s my basic workout plan:
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