Diabetes at the Gym

Ugh, this disease exists to create awkward situations. As a (future, T-3 months) lawyer, I have to eat in courtrooms, ask senior partners to move lunch for me, eat sugar packets at the table of a fine restaurant (just once). Thank God for the ADAct.

I’ve had awkward situations at the student gym as well. Generally people are cool with the stabbing and the eating, they leave me alone, 99x-100. It’s that under-enforced 24 minute rule that occasionally creates an awkward situation as happened last week. Running for 24 minutes I’ve found does literally nothing for my next-day control. So I do the carbs and insulin for a longer workout and nearly always this is not a problem. But last week I had a woman pitch a fit that I was staying on the machine longer than 24 mins, despite the fact that literally everyone around me also had been (apparently I was on the “good machine”). I explained to her that I was having a little bg trouble and couldn’t stop just yet and apologetically asked her to ask someone else over the time limit for their machine. She freaked out and went and got a staff person, and told me that when people with disabilities “take advantage of it” (it’s a freaking machine, get over it) it hurts all people with disabilities everywhere. What? An extra 10 minutes on a gym machine so I can get my bg down is hurting people everywhere? x-(


I can’t explain to someone like that how much more complicated working out is for me than her, how stopping my workout for 15 mins to wait for another machine would involve changing my basal rate again and stabbing myself a few times, and possibly a lot of suffering later if I didn’t estimate properly. Luckily the gym staff immediately took my side; especially when another machine (not the good machine so she didn’t want it) came open while we were talking. I never stopped my workout during the altercation.


Do y’all work out at a public or school gym? Do you ever find it creates awkward situations with your bg testing equipment, carb consumption, machine use, etc.? How do you handle these situations.

Well, I work out at a “regular” gym, and competing for equipment can affect everyone, D or not. I deliberately choose to work out during slower times, frequently in the evening during the week. You can also use a variety of strategies to get around the limit, switching machines during your workout. Also, you might find that altering your routine may allow you to get the benefits you seek within the 24 minutes. You might look at interval training and see if that seems interesting.

I tend to look at my D as “my” situation. If I have reasonable ways to get stuff done, I’ll not ask for accomodation from anyone. It is a matter of pride and wanting to always go through life never feeling like people are treating me differently just because of my D. I’d encourage you to think about alternatives to help you get what you need done. We will always run into situations with other people like this, D or not, and sometimes when you run into a particularly wacky person, it is just better to walk away.

Yeah, I nearly always go at light times too. Like I said, I haven’t seen anyone that aggressive before, but on that day I just couldn’t stop when she wanted me too and she wasn’t cool with that.

I’d also like to comment on the idea that diabetes is “our” problem. I feel like independence is really important for diabetics because, let’s face it, nearly everyone doesn’t have any idea what we’re going through and if we can’t take care of ourselves, who can.

At the same time, I’m aware of my vulnerability and my mortality. This is one of those conditions where we just need help sometimes. The times I’ve needed juice and I’ve stumbled to the book store across school to get it myself, I’ve just ended up going lower and feeling worse by the time I get the juice. If someone offers to get it for me, I take them up on it, and it’s very sweet of them to do so. Western culture emphasizes a sort of ruthless independence that I think is healthy only to a point. It takes a community to fight diabetes, and rigid adherence to social conventions that are harmful to our conditions doesn’t help anyone.

I don’t think you were trying to say the opposite bsc, it’s just something that occurred to me.

Aside from all of the diabetes issues, the 24 minute rule is absurd. That’s hardly enough time for anyone to do anything. I couldn’t do a 24 minute workout and walk away thinking, "There, I did my exercise for the day."
That’s a joke.

Some gyms don’t have enough popular equipment to accommodate demand and post a per-machine limit (this can be as low as 15 minutes, depending on the gym). What happens is that most people who use that equipment are either doing a few minutes during lunch, or using it as a warmup or cooldown from other exercise (e.g., weights or classes, or a different machine – say, 15 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes on the stationary bike and 1/2 hr weights, or 15 minutes warmup on the treadmill before a one-hour yoga class).

If this poses an issue, you may need to find a gym with more equipment or more lenient rules.

Yes, I know why some gyms have similar rules. I was a member of a gym that had a thirty minutes if someone is waiting rule. Half an hour is limiting, but not unreasonable if the gym is under-equipped when busy.
15 minutes or 24 minutes goes beyond questionable to just being wrong.
If I’m using the treadmill as a quick warm up for something else, the rule is unnecessary. If I’m using the treadmill as a workout, the rule is too restrictive to allow me to do a workout.
Therefore, the rule is wrong in my opinion.

Yeah, I think so too which is why
A) I’ve almost never seen it enforced against anyone since the wait is never that bad anyway and
B) The staff didn’t hesitate to decide not to enforce it against me when I was having blood sugar issues.

My opinion is that you NEED the insulin pump. I work for a large company with many of the same demands that you will have for meetings and court. Instead of eating you can dial the basal rate down and you are pretty good to go. Same for the gym. You can workout for as long or as little as you might like, adjust your basal rate and rely less on diet and exercise. (OK, you still need to be concious of your diet and exercise, but soemwhat less so)

As far as the gym goes. When I needed to use the equipment for more than the 30-minute rule in my gym, I went for 30-minutes then changed machines and kept going. A dirty trick maybe but it kept the exercise machine gestapo off my back.

Good tip. I’m actually on the pump but I still find I have to eat first or I go low, even if I reduce my basal by 80% or more.

Laura, I regularly work out at gyms, and while I’ve never run into a situation like yours, I feel for you and sympathize. And I would also guess that it won’t happen very often. Like some of the other folks have said, try to workout at off times and/or another gym, or, here’s a wacky idea, outside. I know, I know, you’re a student, a law student at that, and I’m sure you’re really busy, and I totally understand the need sometimes to just go to they gym and work out. It’s not always the easiest thing to work out outside, but maybe, it might be an option.
Also remember this, it was a unique experience and probably won’t happen for a long time. Keep your chin up, work out, eat right, stay healthy, and become a really good lawyer and go get our health care system changed!