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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hotel South Pole (2) - the gym

Every respectable hotel has to have some exercise facilities.  Here at the South Pole Station we have both indoor and outdoor ones.  I will take you through my typical morning routine and show you some of them. On a typical day I get up around 5:30 AM, put on my indoor exercise clothes and head out straight into the gym.  I start with a 5-minute warm up on the stationary bicycle and some stretching.  Then I put on my layers of fleece, balaclava, neck gaiter, heavy socks, two pairs of gloves, goggles, and I am ready for my outside run.  I have tried several running paths, but by far the nicest is the skiway, because it is well groomed and therefore the easiest to run on. 

The gym has stationary bicycles, treadmills, stairmasters, an elliptical machine, a rowing machine, and, not pictured, weight lifting equipment.

To access the skiway I need to check in with "comms" first.  Comms, short for communications, is our operations center.  It is composed of four people who take turns in the control tower and manage the communications with the airplanes and within the station.  In general, no planes move in the early morning, so I can use the skiway until at least 7 AM.  I need to carry a radio with me on my runs, so comms can contact me in case of any changes.  Likewise I need to call and let them know when I get off the skiway.  I love the people in comms: they are super nice, and they always have a little joke for me when I come back from my run with frost all over my clothes.

Sundays are fairly quiet days in comms (today we only had one scheduled twin otter flight), so Sherry let me sit at the control post for this photo.

Running to the end of the skiway and back is only 5 miles, but it takes me close to one hour.  I am not sure what slows me down so much, whether it is the extra weight of the clothes and radio, or the altitude, or the sligthly slippery surface of the ice, or the breathing through the mesh in the balaclava to pre-warm the air that I breathe.  After the run I go back to the gym for a 15 minute warm down on the stationary bicycle and some more stretching, before cleaning up and heading to breakfast.
I will show our dining room (we call it the galley) in a future blog.

Here is a partial view of the skiway from comms.  The two small buildings on the ice are what we call the passenger terminal.  My run goes all the way to the left of this photo and out of the field of view.

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