Everybody seems to agree that exercise is a very good thing, even for senior citizens. As if living to a ripe old age weren’t enough exercise.
I remember back in the ‘70s when an exercise guru had just about everybody jogging. I also remember when that same exercise guru dropped dead from a heart attack.
My daughter and I joined a health spa way back then. At first it was pretty nice. I told my family that they couldn’t reach me by phone at the spa, so I had a whole hour of peace and quiet whenever I went there.
There was a little problem at first. Every time I looked at myself in the mirrors around the walls while I attempted to roll or shake off unsightly fat, I’d collapse laughing. Watching others affected me the same way, and most of them didn’t appreciate the humor. So I learned to read a book while I shook.
When I tried to return after a short absence of six months or so, I discovered the spa had closed, apparently from lack of interest. Or maybe it was because of all the grapefruit juice you were supposed to drink and the farmer’s cheese you had to eat for breakfast.
A few years later another daughter was getting married, and I decided I really should lose some weight before the next round of family pictures, so I headed to another spa.
Times had changed. There was a pool, a Jacuzzi, a steam room, and a whole lot of shiny equipment. There were also muscular women with very wide leather belts who knew how to use the shiny equipment.
My “guide to better health” was a perfectly beautiful young thing who didn’t weigh 100 pounds when she stepped out of the swimming pool, soaking wet. She also thought she was perfectly beautiful. In fact she had a hard time taking her eyes off of her image in the mirrored walls.
My guide told me to ride the stationary bicycle. I did. It was really hard to pedal, but I was determined. I was also too dumb to know it could be adjusted, and my guide was too busy admiring her own perfection in the mirrors to tell me. The result was a knee which still tells me when it’s going to rain.
The next exercise endeavor was a few years ago when I decided it would be so easy to ride a stationary bike while I watched television. I even considered hooking it up to some kind of generator so while pedaled it would power the television.
Surely am glad I didn’t get that accomplished. The bike served for some time as a clothes rack in the bedroom, except when the grandkids decided to ride it. Then it became a clothes flinger as the clothing flew off the bike in various directions.
So far, I have made only one more foray into the world of exercise equipment. We bought a really cool thing with pedals. When you pull up on the handlebars your whole body stretches out and raises up like you’re going to be launched like a rocket.
There is still a little problem of where to keep it. Right now it’s half in and half out of a closet which has a hook full of my clothes over the door. Whenever I get into launch position the clothes on the door rise, so I don’t use it much.
Guess I’ll just keep rocking in my rocking chair until I figure out where to use the body launcher.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Jan. 5, 2000.