When Less is More at the Gym

Treamills with Televisions

My gym’s going upscale.

In a bad way.

They’ve spent the last few days adding flat screen TV monitors to the treadmills. By the end of the Thanksgiving holiday they’ve promised us that these sets will be functional and we’ll be able to stare blankly at whatever channel we want (Really? Any channel? I see a lawsuit coming.) from a screen 12 inches from our faces instead of staring blankly at the ones on the wall.

Here’s the problem: When I worked on the other side of town, the gym on that side of town did exactly the same thing.

I hated it.

Since running on a treadmill is infinitely more boring then running outside, I can see the need for a distraction. When Marathon Girl was forced to use the treadmill in our basement, you can bet she has a move playing to distract her. When I run at the gym, I usually find a treadmill near to the TV with ESPN so I can glance at the football highlights (or whatever they’re showing) while I run.

But I don’t plug in the earphones to listen to the sound because I’m usually 1) thinking about what I need to write that night in my book 2) silently mocking the people on the treadmill who are trying to talk on their cell phone and “run” or 3) checking out how fast other people nearby are running and, if they’re running faster, seeing if I can keep up with their pace for five minutes. All of these are in infinitely more interesting than staring at a TV screen.

Now instead of having a TV monitor that I can glance at occasionally, I’m going to have a screen right in front of my face.

It wouldn’t be too bad if I could move the monitor and push it out of my way, far from my line of sight, so I could glance at it occasionally like I do now. Instead they’re attached to some kind of titanium bracket which I doubt even the Incredible Hulk could bend.

Then to rub salt on the wound there’s no way to turn the TV sets off.

So you have to stare at something, even if you’d rather stare at nothing.

At the very least, it would have been nice if they left a handful of treadmills without the TVs for the few souls like myself who would rather do something than watch television. But no, they converted every damn one of them.

The elliptical machines are next.

It makes me glad I cut the number of runs I do each week at the gym from five to three and replaced the two runs with two 30-minute swims. As far as I know, they haven’t found a way to put TV screens in the pool.