High Tech Exercise


When it comes to exercise, I am pretty low tech.  I have been walking for the last month or so, using old fashioned sneakers and blacktop pavement in the park.  When I need to do sit ups, the TV stand in the family room does double duty.  It holds the TV up and holds my feet down.  I was in Indiana for a couple of weeks, staying at a hotel that had a fitness center.  It was basically a room with a bunch of different Nautilus machines.  So I thought I would try them out, one by one, and see how they worked and which ones I liked.

The first one I tried was a stationary bike.  I have since been informed when you ride a stationary bike; it is called “spinning”.  I can see that; the machine looked a bit like the old fashioned spinning wheels, if you substituted wood and spindles with space age graphite colored plastic.  While the workout itself wasn’t any big deal, I did like the computer which was powered by me.  As I rode the bike, the computer lit up and told me how fast my heart was beating and how long I had been riding and so on.  When I stopped, the display dimmed and eventually shut off completely.  Star Trek get too much credit for inventing the future, with predictions of cell phones, medical diagnostic devices and so on.  It completely overshadows the equally valuable spin-offs from The Professor on Gilligan’s Island.

There was an elliptical trainer, but I wasn’t too impressed.  We have one of those at home in our bedroom.  It’s sort of a high tech dust cover for a good 30 square feet of floor.  I gave it a shot, but it was a case of “been there, done that”.  They also had a treadmill.  I’ve played with those at the mall, but never seriously exercised using one.  One side of the control panel had numbers for speed and the other side had buttons for slope.  The slope buttons controlled an arm under the treadmill, adjusting the angle pretty much instantly.  The speed buttons didn’t seem to have much effect.  I started out cautiously on the lowest setting and it was really low.  The challenge was to walk that slowly.  I pressed the next button and the next.  Nothing much changed.  I finally hit the top end – 12 – and got it up to a walking pace that was close to my normal pace in the park.  It was then I discovered the treadmill assumes you need to warm up before speeding up.  There were three tones, like to kick off an auto race, and suddenly I was running for my life!  I hit the button to slow things down, but – again – the treadmill assumed I would need a cooling off period and continued on the 12 mph pace for what seemed to be about ten hours.  I managed not to be a weenie and fly off the back end.  With a little practice, I ended up covering about twenty miles on the treadmill over the course of the time I was there.

Over in the corner by the door was a piece of equipment that looked interesting.  It reminded me of a weight bench standing on its end.  There were padded armrests and a cushion for your back.  Six sets of handlebar grips stuck out from various angles.  I tried out the armrests, leaned my back against the cushion and did a pike with one set.  I did a chin up on the high grips.  I could have done more, but I banged my head on the drop ceiling on chin up number one.  As for the other grips, I couldn’t figure it out and there were no instructions that described what they were for.  In the end, I could only assume the device was cobbled together from “extra parts” left when they assembled the other Nautilus equipment.

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