Friday, September 21, 2012

On the Treadmill

This week I went on a treadmill for the very first time in my life as part of a stress echocardiogram test (to make a long story short, I’m expected to live).  The technicians seemed surprised that I’d never been on a treadmill before.   

Not all of us have gym memberships.   

I get my exercise by walking a mile, sometimes two miles around the neighborhood several times a week.  And it’s not some casual stroll, either—it’s a very brisk walk.  I’ve always been a fast walker, and while I wouldn’t mind the company of Mr. Lucky, I always leave him behind when I go walking because even if he went with me, I’d leave him behind anyway.  He’s always exhorting me to “slow down” but that’ll never happen unless he puts me on a leash along with the beagles.   

And no, I don’t take the beagles with me, either—they want to stop and sniff everything, and I just want to walk.   

What do I need with a treadmill?  I’ve certainly thought about the what-ifs of life with a treadmill in the house.  For one thing, it would allow me to go walking at any time, regardless of the weather or temperature.  I wouldn’t have to worry about suffering The Pamela Tudsbury Effect, in which every time I see someone approaching from the opposite direction, I have to feel like a neurotic fool getting ready to smile from forty paces away, when my forced friendliness could be all for nothing if the other person fails to even make eye contact. 

But that’s where the advantages end.  Actually, they end when I see the price tags on treadmills.  Do I really want to take out a second mortgage just because I’m an introvert who hates having to grin and mumble, “Hello” to strangers, and walk around slow pokes because they might be offended by the fact that I think they’re too slow for me even if I don’t say anything?   

Shockingly enough, even I’m not that neurotic.  I walk away from the treadmills, satisfied that I can get just as much of a workout by walking that mile or two around the neighborhood.

As I got on the treadmill for the first time the other day, I had to date myself by making some crack about being like George Jetson on the dogwalker (“Jane, get me off this crazy thing!”) that the technicians probably hear at least once a week.  Once the test was underway, I got the hang of it rather quickly, though I was advised at one point to, “walk, don’t march.”

Don’t march?  I was marching?  I left the Air Force twenty-four years ago, and I’m still marching like I’m on my way to the chow hall?   For a moment I felt like one of the von Trapp children—I don’t play, I march.  Is that what I do when I’m perambulating around the neighborhood—I march? 

Only now do I realize what they meant.  I wasn’t doing an Air Force march, which was basically just everyone walking in time with the same footsteps, left right left, but more of a kindergarten march, where the children lift their knees straight up and stomp the feet straight back down.  It was more of an incline than I’m used to after eighteen years of living in predominantly flat Florida (and by the way, I’ve now lived in Florida longer than I’ve lived anywhere else). 

But I was surprised at the workout I got in less than ten minutes—perhaps more than I get from twenty to forty minutes of walking one or two miles. 

So maybe I would also save more time by exercising on a treadmill.  A whole half hour.  But I still don’t think that’s worth shelling out all that money that’s better spent on my bibliophilia.  That and we don’t have room for it; plus Mr. Lucky already has his own chair of exercise equipment that takes up space and collects dust, and I might not be able to hold that over his head anymore if I got a treadmill.

Oh, and let’s not forget Baby Bear.  In fact, let’s not even go there.  While it might be a good workout for his pent-up energy, he’s unable to comprehend the potential hazards and their consequences.  Even with close supervision, he’s quick enough to hurt himself in two seconds.  It’s not worth the risk. 

The treadmill is fine for others, but I think I’ll continue to walk around the neighborhood enduring slow pokes and the awful agony of having to stretch my facial muscles into a smile every time someone comes my way.            

I don’t think my facial muscles would get such a much-needed workout on a treadmill.