I remember fondly our first treadmill which was kept in the bedroom. After inspiring an inaugural trot it never troubled anyone in the family. It lent itself to holding drying towels and doubled as a shoe rack. We even felt sorry to give it away to a friend who was diagnosed with cholesterol.
Then we welcomed diabetes home to stay and the doc shook his head, gravely predicting doom unless we exercised more. Walking was recommended. The desert climate being what it is, none of us wanted to expose ourselves to being baked, frozen or liberally dusted. That’s when Treadmill II entered our home and our lives. It took its ugly place in the sitting room, facing the TV. This one was swanky with a veritable dashboard and dials to indicate the user’s pulse rate, speed, distance run and calories burned. By now the children had grown to become figure conscious, calorie-counting individuals. So the device got used frequently. But it wasn’t the adults (who needed it) that were using it. Our initial enthusiasm waned – not very surprising- that. But sporadically Guilt would needle us out of comfort.
The treadmill is a dreadful thing to me because of the sheer boredom during its use. Many methods were suggested to overcome this. Someone said reading was good, but it only left me off balance as I tried to turn pages or got lost in a book. ( The manufacturers would do well to design a page-turner fixed to it. ) My son was all for listening to music on an MP3, while treading. He even loaded some of my favourite songs. But I hate noises invading the free spaces of my ears and then taking over my brain. I guess I am not an earphone person. Whatever the method, I could not stop myself from counting while walking. I’d count in 2’s, then in 10’s or 20’s; I’d count the seconds or the distance units or the calories till the numbers crushed my head and still I wouldn’t…. couldn’t stop. 25 steps meant one cal and that took 20 secs if the speed was at 5. I’d close my eyes and the numbers danced against my eyelids and the steps sounded an unceasing, strident chant – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10; …1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,20……….. The terror cannot be described. After such a deadly onslaught of digits, I’d escape from the monster and avoid it like a society lady avoids her worst rival…. until Guilt intervened to bridge the chasm again.
That’s why I loved being in India. One sweats so much; simply existing burns calories and every morning a walk to 2 or 3 temples keeps you fit and well informed of all the gossip and in touch with the neighbours;………. ah yes in touch with your soul too. So returning to the daunting presence of the treadmill was far from pleasant. My husband listens to the Suprabhathams while on the treadmill, but I’d hate to associate the lovely prayers with something so hateful. Watching TV from the TM, you have to step up the volume to nuisance proportions. But one day I watched a Funny Home Video show while walking and I’d finally found the ideal walk/count-forgetter. You don’t need to follow the script and so the TV can be on mute even. And despite the silliness, you laugh over people tumbling off sleds, babies making faces, dogs clowning about………..at the end of an episode you find you’ve laughed through 1 ½ kms and 100cals.
Yesterday there were three back-to-back episodes that I walked through…… which is why I’m nursing the blisters under my feet.