March 8, 2005
Seven Days (Non-Consecutive!) of Exercise
I've never been a fanatic about exercise, but I do try to run regularly during the summer. It's the winter when everything falls apart. From the gluttony of the holidays to the general malaise brought upon by cold weather, my body is never a temple in the winter. This year, I have decided to do something different. For the first time, I have joined a gym. Cue the scary music now.
It's easy to join my gym. You just go online and pay with a credit card. In fact, it is so utterly convenient to be a member that it takes me two weeks before I even bother showing up. Double-clicking on an order form is hard work, and it's important to rest up sufficiently before attempting more exercise.
It's my first time on a treadmill in a long time, and I am not used to it. I keep expecting that I'll somehow forget to run for a few seconds and go flying through the wall behind me, leaving an outline of my body in the wall just like in cartoons. Also, I can't help but be bored. At least, outside there are things to look at. Here, I'm stuck staring at myself in the mirror. The flab is motivating perhaps, but in no way interesting.
My treadmill is clearly defective. There's no way I've only been working out for twenty minutes. Surely, it must have been an hour, but this is what happens when there's a digital timer right under your nose. Time moves very slowly.
Because the volume on my cheap CD player can't compete with all the noise from the treadmills, I am forced to listen to the hideous music from the radio that is blared throughout the room. I assure you that I am not staring at the body parts of other gym goers; it's their iPods I am lusting after.
When you work at a university and can use the school gym, there are both benefits and drawbacks. You can't exactly complain about $13 a semester, but you do have to work out next to students, which can be good and bad. One friend tells me that he thinks working out next to nimble women ten years younger could be very good for his motivation. However, I know a student advisor who feels differently. He refuses to go anymore because he keeps running into advisees. There is nothing quite so damaging to one's stature, he tells me, as having a conversation with an advisee while standing naked in the locker room.
The calorie display isn't helping either. I suppose it could provide incentive. However, since I usually exercise before dinner, it just makes me think of the foods I can now eat. I just burned 300 calories. Maybe I will have that ice cream for dessert. Nothing gives one license to eat fatty foods quite like a trip to the gym.
Here's one great thing about the treadmill. No matter how slow I might go, I am always able to keep pace with the people next to me. Occasionally, I'll check out other people's machines to see how fast they are going, but this is never a good idea, It's difficult to do subtly, and once I almost lost my balance while trying to crane my neck for a better view. (That could probably be even more embarrassing than flying through the wall behind me.) Besides, it's always depressing to learn that the person next to me is going twice as fast. If I remain ignorant, it's always possible that I could be winning the race. Doubtful, but at least possible.
©2005 Joe Lavin
September 28, 2004