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YOU know that stage of life where you realise you should do more to improve your health? I go through it every few years and this time I have (again) joined a gym.
To be fair, it’s only about seven months since I stopped going. My membership had expired, I thought a little break wouldn’t hurt and, as I ride my bike to work several days a week, I’ll be okay, right?
Yeah, that was a mistake. First session back, and I discovered that while I hadn’t lost a great deal of strength, anything resembling endurance had disappeared over the horizon.
One of the things about joining a new gym is exploring what they have on offer. Over time gyms have expanded from offering weights, treadmills and stationary bikes to include a variety of machines, some of which look as though they were designed by someone with a hand in the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials.
So, after a few weeks of trying some of the familiar-looking items, I’ve decided to make a sustained effort on the stair climber. It’s exactly as the name suggests, but if you haven’t seen one, imagine a frame containing a small escalator, about six steps, that runs continually downwards. And you try to climb it. After a few “floors” (the machine helpfully tells you how many you’ve climbed), you start to feel the effects.
I know one of the common questions about exercising on gym machines is: “What about the boredom?”
This is where the clever people who design these things have really come to the fore in recent years. They started with a basic data display showing the progress of your workout. This evolved to a screen that gave some more advanced details, such as calories burned, or even energy generated (“Congratulations, you made enough energy to power a lightbulb for 3 minutes and 17 seconds!”)
The latest technological innovation is that you can surf the net or watch TV while exercising. I’ll leave it to you to imagine trying to check emails while climbing 100 simulated storeys. I gave up after one attempt. Instead, I take the odd glance at the TV. And the TV can reveal some odd stuff about gym users given it stays on the channel the person before you used.
The other day, I was well into my workout when I flicked the TV on and was greeted by an array of glorious cakes and delicious delicacies. Yes, the previous tenant of the stair climber had been watching the Food Network! What kind of a person does that? To exercise with a selection of high-calorie treats on the display ahead of them?
Even now I’m still a little lost as to what that may mean, but I have it down to two possibilities. Either the person before me was trying to remind themselves of what had made them decide to go to the gym in the first place or they had some sort of masochistic carrot-on-a-stick philosophy going. Either way, weird.
Now pardon me, I’m off to see if chasing a cyber cake will indeed help me burn a few more calories. Or power that lightbulb for an extra second…