10 Reasons Why

10 Things I Learned While Shame-Walking on the Treadmill Today

Treadmill 2

1. I really hate walking on the treadmill.

It’s not the treadmill’s fault. He’s really nice. It’s the concept of exercise overall. Back in the day, when I didn’t have to exercise, but actually had an abundance of energy to do it, I was much more accepting of this exercise business. It was actually fun to exercise, plotzing about, heaving things and waving my legs in the air. I actually wasted years of my life trying to stay in shape at a point when I didn’t need to do so. I clearly wasn’t looking at the big picture.

But now I am, from the other side of that mirror where I was naturally svelte and could eat 7 pizzas in one sitting without gaining an ounce. I need the energy I had at the fun time in my life to be transferred to my current situation. In fact, I demand it. I am formally requesting that the Exercise Gods give me official credit for all that energy I wasted in my Twenties and apply it to my now doughy and lifeless body. Like lay-away, yes?

Sigh. At the very least, I wish a wise personal trainer had walked up to me at the age of 22 and said, dude, you really don’t need to be doing this right now. If you don’t stop, you’re going to be so bored with exercise by the time you actually have to do it that there are going to be emotional issues that require you to blog about them.

2. The mind is a terrible thing to waste.

I spent 5 minutes jabbing at every button on the treadmill console, growing increasingly frustrated that none of those taunting buttons were causing the treadmill to actually start moving. Every single button. I was on the verge of calling Obama and asking him if this was also part of his Healthcare Plan, when it dawned on me that there was actually one more button worth review. The one near where the power cord enters the base of the treadmill. The one that is bright red. The one that says “ON”.

Things went swimmingly after that. I told the White House secretary that I didn’t really care to leave a message, and I hung up.

3. Cats are always the most interested in what you are doing at the moments when you least want them to be.

Just like when you forget to close the bedroom door when you want to engage in some slap and tickle, Scotch the cat came bounding into the middle of things to see what was going on. He was most invested in two things. First, the repetitive back-and-forth movement of my legs had him entranced. I’m not sure why this repetition was alluring, since it was rather boring to me after a few minutes. Perhaps something alarming and rhythmic had happened in his childhood? (And since he’s grown up with us, there’s no telling what we did at some point to cause this neurotica.)

Scotch got as close as he could to the edge of the treadmill without actual contact, then assumed the position which meant he was about to slice something to ribbons with his claws. To be honest, I did briefly consider ratcheting up the treadmill speed and letting him hop on, assuredly resulting in a startled yelp and an airborne feline achieving launch. This would be a learning experience for him, and a satisfying moment of jocularity for me.

But I softened, and I instead resorted to firmly barking “NO!” in his direction until he figured out I was talking to him, that I apparently did not care for his planned maneuver, and that he should prance into the other room to sulk and contemplate revenge.

He was back in roughly 3 seconds. Now he was fixated on determining the cause of the whirring noise emitting from underneath the treadmill. The faceless creature that lived under there was surely of interest, and might even be tasty. So now paws were being poked into potentially violent, dismembering areas, and I had the challenge of maintaining my balance and breathing levels while dissuading Scotch from ending his own life as a side result of Daddy being fat. Eventually, a leaf fell in the front yard, and Scotch lost all interest in my mechanical monster as he raced to see who had dared to invade his proclaimed territory.

4. The time-space continuum is entirely dependent on your level of happiness.

Why is it that a 30-minute sitcom can whiz by in mere seconds, but thirty minutes on a treadmill can feel longer than flying to Paris? In coach. With a crappy movie playing, a family of spasmatics in the row in front of you doing everything they can to rip their seats out of the floor, and a flight attendant who insists on ramming that stupid cart into your knee every time you glance away? It’s just not right.

5. It’s hard to remain hydrated when you don’t have the right equipment.

You’re supposed to keep water nearby when exercising, taking petite sips now and then to keep you from drying out and blowing away. A sports bottle is recommended, and we have a few. I just don’t know where they are and I didn’t have the desire to track them down, because I was already doing one thing I didn’t want to do, why increase the pain? So I just got a regular drinking glass, half-filled it with water, and set it on a table that I could reach.

This was a bad call.

I’m sure some people can successfully retrieve refreshing liquid from a drinking glass whilst their legs are pounding along on a treadmill. I am not one of those people. That water was everywhere but in my mouth. Even when using both hands and my tongue to support the glass, I still got the water in my hair. I shoved the empty glass back on the table, hating it with intense passion.

Then I spied the liquor cabinet, also in reach. This thing was filled with enticing, slender-tipped bottles. All I had to do was pop the neck of the bottle into my mouth and guzzle away. Just like a sports bottle! And it would certainly improve my mood. But alas, I resisted temptation and just kept walking, my throat so dry I was afraid to cough lest my head should explode.

6. There are these little workout arms that you can use to pretend that you are cross-country skiing or picking up litter with one of those stick poles. This is supposed to increase your calorie burn.

I didn’t even touch them.

7. I no longer have control of my own body.

There are also support arms on both sides of the treadmill, so you can keep your balance during moments of instability. Apparently this applies to the entire session for me. Every time I let go of the things and tried to walk nonchalantly, as if I were just out for a stroll among the neighborhood crack houses, my legs would go completely insane and I would lunge all over the rolling mat, convinced that the treadmill was going to slam my head into the concrete behind us.

Really? Have I gotten that bad? God.

8. Sweat is not my friend.

I’m the first to admit that sometimes sweat is erotic, like when it’s dripping off the hairy chest off a muscled cowboy who wants to check my spurs. But most of the time, sweat has little appeal. Included in the non-fun category is sweat generated whilst walking on a fake moving sidewalk. Not a fan. Especially when you forget to bring along a handy towel and the saltiness is now blinding you while an inquisitive feline is trying rip your kneecaps open. Nope, the only time I want to sweat is when I’m having sex or I’m moving new furniture into my house. That’s it.

9. I no longer require cute workout clothing.

Back in that wasted day when I worked out pointlessly, I always had matching little outfits that were flattering and coordinated. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my workout couture actually had fringe and a Liza Minnelli wristband. If anyone in that day ever questioned my sexuality, all they had to do was look in my gym bag. Case solved.

Now? I don’t care what I work out in. Today, for example? I walked in the door, ripped off my work clothes, fed the cat some mildly-tranquilizing kibble, and jumped on the treadmill wearing dress socks and boxer shorts. Sexy, eh?

10. Getting off the treadmill requires another set of skills that I don’t have.

Even though you might be living for the second when you have served your time and can turn off the treadmill, it’s not a completely euphoric moment. Immediately, there’s this decompression feeling as the treadmill stops, even though your body feels like it’s still moving. The simple step from treadmill to actual floor is rife with peril and calamity. Your legs feel like noodles, even though you were just using them, as if you’ve been transported from one dimension to another and something went a bit wonky while Scotty beamed you up.

So there I am, staggering around like I’ve been doing tequila shots all night at a skanky bar where everybody is too happy and clothing has become optional. All I want to do is get away from this treadmill that has been sucking the life out of me. I’m just about to escape from the room when I nearly lose my footing, again, on a stupid step that somebody decided to build right there. (Oh wait, we did that.) I clear that last obstacle, pause briefly to wonder whatever happened to that Liza Minnelli wristband, and then I slap off the light.

My last glimpse of the Death Machine is a golden tail sticking out from under it, as Scotch takes advantage of my departure to stalk the whirring demon who lives under The Thing That Makes Daddy Cuss and Grunt…


(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 01/1/11, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)


22 replies »

  1. Okay, so you know I can totally relate to every one of these issues… and I’m really happy to find that I’m not the only one to suffer! Hey, kinda funny story… my cat Meep wouldn’t get off the treadmill when I wanted him to (he listens well, just like my child)… so I turned it on. Guess what?! He got off as soon the belt made its proper rotation… right off the backside!! Where is that ever evasive video camera when you need it?! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought this might ring a bell or two with you. And Scotch the Cat finally learned his lesson as well about The Power of the Treadmill. He hopped on it one day alongside me, despite my gasping warning threats, and he was soon airborne towards the liquor cabinet that I would much rather be treading. (Scenario recap – Scotch: “Daddy, why are you trying to hurt me?” Me: “I’m not the one who made poor decisions.” Video camera: Nowhere to be found, naturally.) Scotch now keeps a respectful distance, although he is still mesmerized by the rhythmic whirring of the beast…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I have tried doing that, popping in a DVD to distract me from the pain. But I just end up hating the people in the cast, the producers of the show, and the network that authorized the production. I’m better off just listening to my iPod (archaic as such a device might be) since there are no associated visuals and I don’t have a focus for my dissatisfaction… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate to this on so many levels, although I blew up my treadmill years ago and replaced it with a very basic elliptical. I don’t bother with the settings anymore, I opt for a “quick start” and adjust the resistance to however I feel that day.
    Turns out my desire to take it to the limit has steadily decreased over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like we share the same exercise philosophy.Nothing too fancy with the structure of our workout and a flexible attitude about daily goals. If I take it to the limit too many times, I quickly find other things to do with that limit… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’d rather be outside as well. But once we start hitting those 100-degree days in Texas, with your body at risk of bursting into flames if you poke a toe out the front door, I choose to amuse myself with indoor activities. Good on you, though, for your bold adventuring and proper strolling attire. I’m not sure that I’d remember to be so modest, as I only seem capable of focusing on one thing at a time these days…


    • Lately, the treadmill has become much more of a walk-on closet than a health device. Around the holidays, when I’m my biggest because I’m the piggest, I completely ignore the thing. Life is too short to both be healthy AND eat pie, so decisions have to be made… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Brian! I am probably tardy to the party but I just had to tell you that I was laughing until I was crying while I read your work. Your views on exercise are exactly like mine. I also OD on fitness when I was younger. Guess that could have waited, lol. Such a refreshing point of view. Thanks for the humor! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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