Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nowhere Fast

Of all equipment in the gym, the apparatus of which I've always been most circumspect is the treadmill. At some point I ran the numbers in my head. Factoring in both my lack of physical coordination and my gym-induced social anxiety, the risk-to-benefit ratio was just a little too high. With "risk" defined as the potential spectacularity of failure.

On the elliptical machine I could miss a step and probably no one would notice. Whereas it would be pretty hard to miss a clumsy ox slamming ass-first into the back wall. Especially when there would probably be a ten second pre-show consisting of flailing, cursing, thumping, more cursing and various skin-on-rubber squealing noises.

I always thought that if I wanted to run, I'd do it the way God intended: on a synthetic, all-weather track wearing Nike Shox. Running on anything else just wouldn't be natural. Especially a machine which can trace its lineage directly to the belt sander. Only instead of 00 grit, this belt is coated with staphylococcus.

But recently I've been making an effort to overcome my fear of the treadmill. The unusually wet summer combined with a brand new pair of fluorescent lime-green Nike Free runners has made the option of running indoors seem more attractive. And even when the gym is busy, it seems there's always an available treadmill. Sure, the LED display may be fritzing, the belt might resemble a large strip of vulcanized bacon and it only inclines on one side, but it beats having to call the "only 20 minutes when others are waiting" police.

And yes, at first it was almost everything I was afraid it would be. The sensation is less like running and more akin to having the rug continuously pulled out from under me. And if I found running without going anywhere to be disorienting, that's nothing compared to once I get off the treadmill. I feel like I'm walking uncontrollably fast, like one way or another I'm destined to slam into that damn wall.

The first few days on the treadmill I spent power-walking while familiarizing myself with the location of the emergency stop. I then worked my way up to power-walking without white-knuckling the control panel. And then I got fancy, hands-free power-walking through a simulated alpine pass.

That was yesterday. I have yet to get up the nerve to actually run on the thing. Maybe today. If you workout at LA Fitness Ansley Mall, you may want to have your iPhone ready. Things may get spectacular.


  1. Today's lesson: don't wear high heels on the treadmill. So put your pumps away, Pac.

    1. What?? This isn't the LA Fitness at Atlantic Station or Georgia Tech, this is Ansley Mall we're talking about!