Like many Americans, every time the new year rolls around I semi-commit to getting more exercise than I did in the previous 12 months. Long ago, my resolutions were specific and detailed, e.g.: “I will run 20 miles a week and try not to sweat on the people in my office when I’m done, especially if they’re eating lunch.” These days, I don’t have resolutions; I have musings, such as: “Maybe I could hula-hoop between phone calls. Or I could just eat a handful of almonds. Protein is important for muscle development, right?”
Once upon a time, I was athletic. I owned three gold Spandex unitards and matching headbands and I am NOT ashamed! But even then I never enjoyed going to a gym. My idea of a fun time does not involve using damp equipment and listening to men grunt loudly. It’s seems that to some guys, grunting is a courtship ritual. They look around a room full of potential sweaty mates, clang their free weights together, and release deep vocalizations in the direction of the ones they desire. When it comes to flirting, I much prefer the frigate bird’s display of his red throat sac or the whooping crane’s leaping, dancing, and flinging objects across a meadow. Perhaps this explains why I don’t date.
Fortunately we don’t have to leave our houses to get all the exercise we need. So many pieces of home exercise equipment, so little time to put them together and then sell them a month later on Craigslist! Some of the exercise “devices” I have tried in the past include:
- The Ab Roller, a small wheel with handles that was meant to flatten your stomach, but was more effective at leveling out dirt before laying down sod. My main problem with this device is that even when I had abs like a washboard (today, I have abs like a dashboard – soft and padded, with a built-in airbag), I could roll forward on the wheel, but once fully elongated, I could not roll back. So I would usually just collapse, face-down, whimpering, onto the floor and one or more wiener dogs would jump on my back. And you thought goat yoga was difficult.
- The Thighmaster. For those of you who don’t remember, this was a padded, spring-loaded, device that you were supposed to squeeze between your thighs to build muscle, just in case you might need to crack open walnuts while stranded on a desert island without a nutcracker. Sidebar: It was also great at shooting full force across the room at random intervals and occasionally destroying the kneecaps of passersby. Sometimes you can still find one of these weapons of minor destruction at a thrift store, but the cashier will make you sign a liability release form before you plunk down your $1.99.
- I’m embarrassed to admit that I once owned a Super Glide Slide. This piece of “equipment” consisted of a 6-ft. long plastic mat and some shoe covers (think those footies nurses wear in operating rooms). The goal was to slide in your shoe covers from side to side, kind of like an Olympic speed skater. Despite giggling the whole time I used it, I never got any real exercise, but I did build up high amounts of static electricity. When I’d finish a “workout,” my hair was so big I looked like I had put my head in a cotton candy machine and turned it up to turbo-boost.
Fortunately, I haven’t fallen for every ridiculous fitness device that ever hit the market. For example, I never tried one of those belts that zap your abs with electricity. I don’t know about you, but tazing my belly seems like more of a form of torture than a way to get rock-hard abs (which, by the way, my dogs would HATE).
Recently, I’ve avoided buying the Treadmill Bike (a street bike that you “pedal” by walking on a treadmill. I’d need to update my will before ever street-testing it. Last, but definitely not least when it comes to exercise equipment that is better for a laugh than a workout, there’s the iGallop Horseback Riding Core Builder Exercise Machine (here’s Ellen Degeneres demonstrating it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th3zCNIMOiw; forward to 2:45). I’m certain it didn’t sell well because no one could type out the full name to order one. And with its side to side and bucking motions (there’s a saddlehorn-like handle in the front for you to hang on), it was too reminiscent of the mechanical bull that was popular in bars in the ‘80s. That’s what kept me from buying it – I met my second ex at a bar with a mechanical bull. I didn’t want to accidentally marry the guy who delivered the device to my house.
I think I’ll just stick to the tried-and-true way of getting exercise. I’ll laugh at everything and occasionally eat a handful of almonds (which, thankfully, I don’t have to crack with my flabby thighs).