There are plenty of awesome things in the world: pilots who give first-time adult flyers wings, wearing your favorite fancy clothes to work because you can, swimming in the ocean on a summer week day. But I’m not yet convinced anything is more awesome in the fitness world than this:
That’s right. An elliptical machine with a television built right in. I first saw one of these at the Hyatt I stayed in during my recent stint in Long Beach. Now, this hotel was sort of strange –it lacked free wireless internet, and seemed to have a problem with unplugging clogged drains, but its fitness center was what other fitness centers all around the great state of California should aspire to. There were multiple treadmills, station cycles, rowing machines, and a glorious row of ellipticals standing at attention, plus a hat rack that held jump-ropes, a line of hand weights, and the biggest flat screen television on ESPN Sports in case your own personal TV just wasn’t enough.
I’m not much of a television watcher. In fact, I have to admit that I don’t even have television at my house – I’m strictly a DVD sort of girl, and any TV shows that are going to be watched either have to be sent via Netflix, or watched from Hulu. TV disappointments me because honestly, I’m not sure it gets better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls. Also, if I recall correctly, TV sucks time faster than a black hole. In my pre-running years, I seem to remember watching plenty of television. In any event, I keep the house TV free, much as I keep the house ice cream free. If it’s available, I’ll devour it, but if it’s not, I don’t really miss it at all.
My father, on the other hand, is an avid purveyor of television; in fact, at least ten years ago, I recall him setting up our stationary bicycle downstairs right in front of a television straight from 1979 and blasting the entire house with the sounds of whatever generic show he could find while he peddled. My father should have been a fitness equipment entrepreneur. At the time, I thought it was a pretty strange thing to desire – fitness and TV. Now, it’s obviously becoming the norm.* He was ahead of the times.
The screen-filled elliptical does scare the sociological side of me quite a bit—what does it mean for society, for the idea of meeting people at the gym? What does it mean about each of us being wrapped up in ourselves and not involved in our communities? What does it mean about our interest and dependence on screens of any kind? Where does personal thought come into play if we’re all busy staring at a device that offers us information?
Despite my fears, I liked the built in television. Okay, I loved it. I wound up being late for dinner one night because I was busy watching Jack Black drop it like it’s hot in School of Rock and wanted to see how the movie ended. So even though my forty minutes were up, I kept pumping my legs like I was actually trying to get somewhere until the credits of the movie started to roll. So obviously having a distraction like television is motivating, and even encourages one to exercise more, which is a notion I’m all about. Angie, take note.
I pretty much wanted to spend all day in this fitness center. Plus, it was air-conditioned. Really air-conditioned. Arctically air-conditioned. Totally bad for the environment, and totally great for me.
* I wonder if soon we’ll be doing other fitness things while watching TV…like taking an aerobics class from a live instructor while a TV is on in the background, or rollerblading** while projecting something into the distance?
** I wish more people rollerbladed. Heck, I wish I did.
If you can’t get enough of me, I’ve got a review of Michael Jackson’s This Is It over at studentstuff!