One tip for Venice

Venice, Italy is a difficult city to be a tourist in.  Which is funny because the city is full of them.  There are so many tourists that that fact alone makes visiting it seem daunting or challenging.  The usual advice is to go in the off season and not during one of their big festivals like Carnival (in February).  And while that advice is solid there is one more tip I have to offer if this is a city that is on your must-see’s or bucket list.

The one tip I have is understandably hard to do when one is on holiday/vacation.  That is to get up early.  I don’t mean early, I mean before the sun rises.  I mean when it is still dark out.  I took someone else’s advice and did so when I visited Venice mid-October.  The sun rises at the time of year around 7:30AM.  I was out and about at 5:30AM.  It wasn’t easy to get up at 4:45AM, shower, eat a granola bar and back my purse up but it WAS worth it.  It was one of the most memorable days in Venice because I wasn’t dodging people left and right, fighting pigeons or frequently getting lost (because of the people).

What I saw was wonderful.  I saw how Venetians live.  I saw St Marque’s getting swept up, the markets getting ready, parents taking their children to school.  I was actually seeing the real Venice (sans tourists).  The people who make the city run to serve the large number of people who invade it during ‘normal’ hours.  You catch people in their moment’s and finding yourself seeing life through their eyes.  It is sight that no tour company can provide.


After watching the city wake up as well as the sun, I got a cup of Italian coffee (cappuccino) in the morning and made my way back to the hotel for their breakfast.  I didn’t rush through breakfast either.  I was able to enjoy it without thinking about where I had to go or planning my day.  My day was basically half done.  I had seen the best part of Venice – its people living.

Movember for Everyone

This week my husband informed me that he is participating in Movember this year – where men grow facial hair to raise money for a men’s health issue during the month of November.  As my husband is excited about doing his part (along with his colleagues), I was left thinking about the counterparts in the lives of the Movember Men.

November doesn’t have to only be about men doing something for their physical health, it can also be for everyone.  What is that something?

Well, it doesn’t involve growing any hair.  It is about starting that exercise program sooner rather than later.  November is the BEST time to join a gym and determine whether it is right for you.  Not everyone falls in love with the rows of treadmills and the music and the super peppy, ultra toned people working there.   And that is okay.  But like most stuff, you have to try it to know if it is right for you.

And January is the worst time to answer that question.  Yup, the New Year’s Resolution, the after holiday guilt steadily being worked off with each calorie count registered on the machines or FitBits.  The gym is its craziest in January.

November was when I actually joined my first gym.  I had gained some weight after I took a new job and moved to a new city.  I didn’t realize it until I put on my winter pants and they didn’t fit.  Ugh.  I had walked past the neighborhood gym a few times and kept thinking: “I’m not really a gym person.”  (Not really knowing what that is exactly.)

The toll on my pants and the fact that the amount of money for a new wardrobe was equivalent to a year’s subscription to a gym lead me to try it out.  When I went in for the tour and information download, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was and how much time the super peppy, ultra toned guy was spending explaining stuff to me – as I was not his type or sex.

The next day I went after work and tried a class.  Again, not busy and the class had a handful of people, a comfortable size.  I was embarrassed because clearly the other members were regulars – judging from their outfits and the chit chat with the instructor prior to the class.  I immediately took my spot in the back as if to conceal my newness but the instructor noticed me – wonder how?  She said she would break things down for me.

Although my first class about killed me, I noticed I had survived and the fact that the instructor reviewed the moves for my benefit I managed to keep up (barely).  And why was I worried about the regulars, they seemed in their own world doing the ‘advanced’ version of the steps.  They didn’t seem to care that the instructor did a modified version nor did they seem to be bothered with my lack of coordination.

What I realized from this experience is that November is truly the best time of year to join a gym.  The gym crowds naturally start to die down.  Even though the runners head indoors, the approach of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year seem to keep gym members away.  So what that means is that newbies can join with the full attention of the staff – who are available to show you how the equipment works, modify the group classes, etc.  The less crowds mean less people in the workout class, so that you can patiently learn steps and figure out your own style of coordination.

It allows time to get oriented with all that a gym has to offer without regulars getting impatient with you or people hogging the lockers or machines.  You can take your time and figure out your routine – which classes or instructors you prefer, which machine is your favorite (it is true, gym regulars tend to have a favourite machine).  The other plus, maybe unexpected side to this, is that come January, you are already a regular.  And another plus, you might find that there is no need to work off the holiday pounds because going to the gym has kept it in check and manageable.

So while your man decides to forgo his commitment to keeping (his hair) trim, maybe it is that time of year to trim another area.  Happy Movember!

Tips to Making Gym Life work for You (in the long-term):

  • Location: choose a gym close to your home – walking/biking distance or less than five minutes by car.  I don’t like locker rooms at gyms so I go dressed in my workout clothes and come home to shower.  Choosing a gym close by is perfect if you don’t like that aspect of gym life.
  • Join at low season (summer and fall, December) to get acquainted
  • Sign up for one month or a few months (its easier to renew than cancel)
  • Work through emotions, it is okay to feel out of place and understand that not everyone is looking at/judging you.  Regulars are usually concerned with themselves.
  • Tell group instructors you are new, trust me, the class will be more fun this way.  Chances are, you are not the only beginner!

Related Reading to Ease Your Transition to Gym Life from Huffington Post:

Your Guide to Acceptable Locker Room Behavior

The Five Most Annoying Things About Workout Classes

Nine Types of People You Will Meet at the Gym