Fitness machine: exercise in futility?


NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 13, 2012 —


I was talking to a longtime friend the other day who had just made the terrible mistake of purchasing something she had to assemble out of a cardboard box, and our little conversation went something like this:

“I am such a fool!”

“What did you do this time?” I asked her with interest.

“Well, let’s just say that I currently have a half-assembled recumbent exercise bicycle scattered all over my living room floor.”

“You mean one of those bikes you can kind of lay back on in a sitting position while you pedal it?”


“But isn’t that kind of cheating?”

“How so?”

“You know, basically relaxing while you’re supposed to be exercising?”

“Well,” explained my friend, “I guess everyone has their own way of getting into shape when its swimsuit time again, and I just prefer to do it the easy way, with as little sweating and expenditure of energy as humanly possible. Anyway, the 24-page manual that came with the darn thing had way too many surprises in it.”

  “Like what?”

“To begin with, it says two people are required to assemble the bike, but when I looked inside the huge box it came in, they had neglected to include the other person. Oh, and do you happen to have a rubber mallet I could borrow?”

“Why do you need a rubber mallet?”

“I’m not exactly sure yet, but the instructions said I will definitely need one to complete the assembly. I think maybe it’s to hit myself over the head with after going through 24 pages of instructions and countless hours of Allen-wrenching when I could have just paid someone $50 to assemble the whole thing for me. I really hate that I am so cheap!”

“Why do you want an indoor bicycle to exercise on anyway?” I asked with interest. “The summer is finally here now and it’s going to be perfect for real bike riding.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I would much rather exercise in the comfort of an air conditioned room than ride around on a hot summer day in a sweaty t-shirt and soggy sports bra, not to mention a dripping-wet pony tail stuck to my neck. Plus real bicycle riding can be pretty dangerous when you’re a klutz like me. Didn’t you once write a column about falling off your bike and almost killing yourself?”

  “Oh, you mean the time I tried to `pop’ the front wheel of my bicycle up onto a curb in front of McDonald’s in my haste to get a couple of cheeseburgers and a large fry? I haven’t thought of that in a long time. I was sure lucky to land on that poor homeless person after I had hit the curb and flown over my handlebars!”

“Well,” said my friend with a smile, “I doubt that there will be a nice soft homeless person for me to land on when I fall off a real bicycle, so I will just stick to exercising at home, thank you very much. Plus this way I will be able to exercise year-round, no matter what kind of weather we’re having. I really do hate to sweat!”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I don’t really know. I mean, steamy, sweaty love-making back when I was first married was certainly no problem. Isn’t it funny how the situation makes all the difference in this life? For instance, why do you think it is that getting caught out in the rain is so uncomfortable, while my morning shower is always so enjoyable?”

“Good question.”

“Anyway,” said my friend, “I figure I will have my indoor recumbent exercise bicycle all assembled by the end of the week and I will be able to go shopping for a brand new bathing suit before I know it! Oh, and the bike is a beautiful ocean blue, which will go really well with my bedspread and pillow coverings.”

“You’re going to put the bike in your bedroom?”

“Sure! That’s where I have my large screen TV and new speakers for all my favorite music. Like I said, exercising should be as much fun as possible!”

“So,” I asked with interest, “how much did this ocean blue recumbent exercise bike cost you?”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“That much, hey?”

“A person’s health is priceless!”

  “You do realize, don’t you, that by no later than this time next year, you will be bored to death with that bike, no longer be able to stand having it take up space in your bedroom, taken up Yoga or belly dancing or some other fun way of staying in shape, and end up selling the darn thing at a garage sale for 25 bucks?”

“You know, Daryl, I really hate it that you know me so well!”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

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