Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Gym Membership

I've belonged to a gym for quite a while now, and almost never go. Dumb, I know, but the way I see it, I've reached an age (never you mind) where having the membership fee show up on my credit card statement each month, despite not having lifted a leg, an arm, or even a towel at the gym during that time, serves as a useful reminder of: a) my stupidity, b) my laziness, and c) my protracted physical decay. The hope being that my cumulative shame in the face of a-through-c will eventually motivate me to walk the...oh, it's so embarrassing...three long blocks to my gym.

Well, tonight I did. I jogged/ran/spazzed a couple of miles on one of those low-impact machines ("low-impact" being perhaps my favorite hyphenated term in the English language). One of the motivating factors in making tonight my first visit in @&@!*% -- in addition to feeling edgy and run-down enough lately that I'm willing to try anything -- was the thought that I could watch an NCAA tournament game on one of the gym's TVs. (I like to replicate the experience of sitting on my couch as much as possible when I work out; this can't be good, I know.) To my astonishment, they didn't have the tournament on every monitor. So I had to turn my head a bit to watch the game, an added bit of physical activity that I resented. The set straightaway in my line of vision was on a music channel showing clips by Britney Spears, Audioslave, and the great Hall and Oates, who have to hold the record for Most Dorky Videos Set Against a Black Background.

At one point, my machine flashed a reading titled "heart rate." The reading was 155. Now, I'm no cardiologist, but I believe that a human heart beating 155 times a minute has reached, technically, "the phase of imminent explosion." I consoled myself with the fact that the machine couldn't possibly be reading my vitals accurately (or at all). But those scrolling numbers can really freak you out -- they're like a Dow Jones ticker of personal doom (heart rate: 485....good this will do if you don't stop drinking: 0....days between tonight and your next visit: 297....)

Stupid machine. Stupid heart.



Blogger Dezmond said...

I heard on the radio that this Saturday (I think it is Saturday) is officially "Hall and Oates Day" in Philadelphia.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the single greatest improvement you can make in physical fitness is from doing nothing to doing *something*. You don't have to kill yourself to see a remarkable benefit from exercise. And I'm not talking about the "slightly more healthy arteries" stuff. I'm talking about "shadows along the contours of muscles" benefits.

My personal guess is that people usually don't exercise that often because when they do, they think they've got to kill themselves. And then it turns into an hour of torture every other day. And who wants to be tortured [insert Marv Albert joke ... also get in a time machine and go back to 1997 so that joke is relevant]? The key is to do a little more than you're doing now, and to keep doing it over a long period of time.

Just my personal opinion. Not that you need exercise anyways. The day you have love handles is the day Wiseman gets a "Hugs Not Bombs" bumper sticker.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should read "Against Exercise" by Mark Greif in Best American Essays 2005.

7:11 AM  

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