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One reason I don’t like the fitness room

I was running on the treadmill in my apartment’s fitness room at eight o’clock in the morning last week. I don’t use the fitness room unless I can help it, but my downstairs neighbor didn’t request a wake-up call from my own treadmill in the morning, and I’d prefer to stay on his good side. I put up with the thudding bass of his stereo a couple times a week and he’s never said anything about me pounding through his floor in the evenings. I figure we have an unspoken truce and I don’t want to push it.

So, I was chugging along in the hot, kind of smelly fitness room in my apartment building, listening to some tunes through my earphones, when a slightly overweight, slightly middle-aged man in shorts entered the room. I gave a small wave acknowledging his presence and he pointed to the TV to ask if it was okay to turn it on. I gave him the thumbs up and continued running.

1.30 miles: TV man turns on TV and starts flipping through the channels.

1.35 miles: TV man stops on TBS. Wait, I know this movie . . old time-y clothes, a saloon… Vitto Morgenson. It’s Hidalgo!

1.40 miles: TV man is not a fan of Hidalgo. What, no love for the horsies? Keeps flipping.

1.45 miles: TV man stops on the TV Guide channel and starts reading listings

1.50 miles: Still on the TV Guide channel

1.55 miles: Yep, still on the TV Guide channel

1.60 miles: TV man flips to some sports and finally steps on the elliptical trainer.

Being female, I’ve never had to stand at a urinal while someone next to me is taking a piss, but I think it must be at least as awkward as running on a treadmill for three tenths of a mile while staring at a man watching television. I’ve watched TV before, but watching someone watch TV is just bizarre. Do I watch the TV? Do I watch him? Do I pretend to watch a bug on the ceiling? My eyes have nowhere to look!

Also, there is absolutely no reason TV man couldn’t have done all his surfing while actually operating the elliptical machine. You only need one hand on the remote and one hand on the handlebar. I probably burned 30 calories while he was just standing there. Frequently people moan that they don’t have time to exercise, but you can find the time if you look for it. I just found three or four minutes in TV man’s life.

Of course, maybe he just doesn’t have cable, and the exercising is all an elaborate ruse.

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Crabby McSlacker • November 12, 2007 at 9:24 am

You’re way more mellow than I am. I hate having to listen to someone else’s choice in tv, as it leaks through my headphones and messes with my music.

Plus, if I was there first and had the tv off, it seems like my preference is obvious and the guy should just stare at it wistfully hoping I’ll say, ‘you want the tv on?’ (Yeah, right).

Not that I’d say no if he asked–I’d just look and feel grouchy the whole time and send invisible nasty vibes that he’d no idea how to interpret and then I’d leave as quickly as possible.

(And home gyms or real gyms are SO much better than those weird in-between exercise rooms).


Shannon • November 12, 2007 at 9:27 am

I can completely relate to the frustrations of people at the gym. I have finally decided that when someone comes in and asks to turn the tv or turn on the radio, I will put stipulations on it. They will turn the radio on super load so that I can’t hear my ipod or turn the tv to some random basketball game. It’s so frustrating. The answer now is, “yes, you can turn the radio on but keep the volume down,” and “yes, you can turn the tv on, but I don’t want to watch sports.” It may be bitchy, but I was there first.


mary • November 12, 2007 at 9:45 am

Oh geez.

It’s a dark and stormy morning, and I just debating whether I should go running in the park, with its 60-ft trees and a high wind warning, or whether I should try out my complex’s fitness room.

Maybe I should just go back to bed :(


Mia • November 12, 2007 at 10:08 am

Oh God, I totally understand. This is the number one reason I hate my gym. There’s no where to look while I workout! If I look at the monitor too much, I get dizzy. Staring at the TV makes my neck hurt because of the angle. Consequently, I am forced to look straight ahead in the mirror, as is the entire gym. And occasionally, I have some freak who insists on watching me while I run. (You know, the creepy men who keep trying to make eye contact with you while you workout–like some sort of pickup–EW!) Running outside is so much nicer!


Nina • November 12, 2007 at 10:19 am

Ugh, dude, my friend and I got hit on by an old dude in our apartment’s fitness room. Now we have no desire to go back, which SUCKS, because our fitness room is freaking awesome.


melsky • November 12, 2007 at 11:11 am

I take off my glasses while doing the elliptical in the mornings at my gym so I can’t read the depressing headlines scrolling by on the news.


Jenny • November 12, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I cannot watch anything while on the treadmill – all that looking up makes me dizzy and I’m afraid I’ll take a header into the controls if I don’t concentrate.


Marshmallow • November 12, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Ahahaah oh man, watching someone watching TV – Mmmmm, recursive goodness. I’m quite lucky at my gym; they have multiple televisions set up, noone is allowed to touch them, and each cardio machine has this little sound thingey that you plug your headphones into, and you choose the audio channel to listen to and then look at your preferred screen. Genius!


diana the scale junkie • November 12, 2007 at 2:20 pm

I’m thinking that making such an earth shattering decision about what to watch while doing the elliptical in ONLY 3/10’s of a mile is actually quite impressive…was the sport he was watching golf? LOL


Lora • November 12, 2007 at 3:01 pm

I take off my glasses while doing the elliptical in the mornings at my gym so I can’t read the depressing headlines scrolling by on the news.

Posted by: melsky at November 12, 2007 11:11 AM

This is what I do at my gym during the week after 5pm. Works every time. :) However, on the weekends, sometimes the trainers will have movies on. It makes my workouts fly by!


Marla • November 12, 2007 at 3:26 pm

I hate any kind of treadmilling exercise so much that when I (rarely) do it, I listen to my ipod AND watch the television with the closed captioning on. If I could also read a book and brush my teeth and balance the checkbook I would. I would even start up a conversation with the TV guide-watching guy to quench the intolerable boredom.

p.s. I love the horsies, but Hidalgo is a TERRIBLE movie!


Liz in Ohio • November 12, 2007 at 10:58 pm

At least his thumb got a workout with all that surfing.


America • November 13, 2007 at 12:19 am

ha! I just about peed from laughing!


Annette • November 13, 2007 at 12:31 am

You are wonderful, courageous, inspirational and very funny… I wish you all the best and much success in all your life goals. Smart, vibrant, pretty, brave people like you are rare. It is so refreshing to have stumbled upon your blog.


kla • November 13, 2007 at 1:39 am

Hi PQ…I love your blog and am a long-time lurker. I feel bad that my first comment is a negative one, but I think your comments about TV man – particularly about how you burned at least 30 calories while he “was just standing there” – were a bit on the snarky side. Maybe he hates to exercise and finding something of interest to watch on TV is his motivation to get on the machine, or maybe he’s just hopelessly uncoordinated like I am.

At over 300 lbs, I’ve received many a judgmental look at the gym when I don’t work out as long or as hard as some fitter person seems to think I should, and it doesn’t feel good. I don’t think anyone should be put down for not working out as hard as someone else…even if it’s just in jest. Sorry to be such a buzzkill. I just felt it was something I needed to say.

Now that that’s off my chest, I want to thank you for sharing your inspiring story…it often makes me laugh and it always gives me hope. :)


sheddingpounds • November 13, 2007 at 7:56 am

It’s funny you should post about this. I just moved about 2 weeks ago and there was a problem with them hooking up cable. They messed up our order and canceled our appointment.

A big football game was coming on (PATS VS. COLTS). We had been to a sports bar for an earlier game and only can take so much of the smoke.

Anyway, my partner and I went to our fitness room and flipped on the game and hopped on the treadmills, we proceeded to put those suckers on the lowest speeds possible.

Other people came in and faked working out too, by the second half there had to be 20 people in our little fitness room. All half working out and fully watching the game.

I work out everyday but a that moment I just wanted to watch the game lol.


psychsarah • November 13, 2007 at 11:41 am

Tee hee… I was once in the teeny fitness room at a hotel and there was an old guy who provided me much entertainment during my workout. It started much like your story, with the long and slow channel selection. Then the guy picked up one dumbbell, did maybe three bicep curls, and then took another 5 minutes to change the channel to something else. Then he rode the bike for maybe 2 minutes, and got up and changed the channel again. I started to wonder if he was doing “interval training” because he would lift a dumbbell a few times, change the channel, go on a cardio machine for 1-2 minutes, change the channel. I started making up scenarios in my head to explain his behaviour. It kept me going through an hour of hard cardio better than any music or tv show could! It never ceases to amaze me the crazy stuff people do in gyms/workout rooms. People watching is so much fun.


JEM • November 13, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Our fitness room was not tolerable because everytime I went there were tweens everywhere. It seems the kids who run all over the complex made the fitness room their personal clubhouse. Nothing was more annoying. Thank God for my new home gym! WooHoo!


Sue • November 15, 2007 at 4:45 am

Viggo Mortensen. You had a case of some deviant form of Spoonerism there PQ :P…Anyhow, yes, people watching from afar is easy but right next to them is awkward.


vj • November 16, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Yes, I too hate to be one to speak negatively. I linked to this blog from another one and was excited and hopeful to find something inspirational since I have quite a bit to lose and felt that maybe your story would be one to keep me going when times get tough in my own. Sadly, the first story I read was of the man in the weight room and your description of him.

Since I’ve gained and lost my weight (with 2 of 3 babies) and am now working diligently to lose a whole person sitting around my body I was saddened to see that someone who had been through the journey referred to others with the same snide-ness and bias that those always thin people do.

I don’t like gyms either. But I value the people who have been in my shoes and am determined not to be “one of them” when I reach my goal. I hope your other entries are not this way.


Sklig88 • November 19, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Boy, I’m glad you don’t work out in the same place I do- who knows what assumptions you would have made, since our remote doesn’t work so you have to stand pretty close to the TV to make it work, and the closest machine is still to far away. Nevermind that I choose to spend a minute of my life getting my magazine and music set up.

Give the guy a break…I mean does the fact that you burned maybe 30 more calories than him really merit an entry? I bet he burned more calories than you before you started going to the gym.

Sorry to be so negative as I love your blog, but this kinda pissed me off. haha.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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