T is for Torture and Treadmills

T is for treadmill

T is for treadmill




I stepped out of the bathroom, all shiny and clean, a hint of make-up, my hair perfectly coiffed. I was all set for the big day.

“You showered? You washed your hair?” commented my husband with a quizzical look. “Odd.”

“Well, it’s the first time. I want to make a good impression.”

“Odd,” he repeated. “I never shower first.”

“Well,” I said, maddeningly continuing to explain myself. “I’m sure we’re not going to do that much.”


I was nervous. As nervous as the first day of a new school year. At a new school. Or the first day of a new job. Or as nervous as going on a first date.

I had put this off for as long as I could, coming up with excuse after excuse for delaying. I’m busy this week. I’ll start next week. Next month. Company is in town. The holidays are coming. The holidays are here. I’ll start after the first of the year.

But no more excuses.

Off I went to the gym. Off I went to my first meeting with my new personal trainer. First meeting? Ha! It was more lamb to the slaughter than introductory, easy-peasy starter session.


Without much more than a “How do you do?” my trainer plopped me on the treadmill. And within 15 minutes, that “hint” of make-a-good-first-impression make-up was streaking down my face. I looked less jock and more Joker. My just-washed glistening locks were frizzing up around my face like some humidified angel.

Cute I was not. Out of shape, I was.

The only good news I can report:

  1. After 30 minutes on the treadmill, I did not die of cardiac arrest, and
  2. I lasted 30 minutes.


I thought my personal trainer and I would use that first meeting, you know, to get personal. Exchange each other’s life stories, bond over pictures of our kids and dogs, share deep-held secrets. That kind of girlfriend thing.

But no. This woman was all business. More Marine drill sergeant than future BFF. More ropes and elastic bands (i.e. bondage) than bosom buddy bonding.

After a recap of my medical history – all done while I was gasping and panting on the treadmill, she gleefully shouted, “Let’s get started!” (Apparently, in trainer-speak, 30 minutes on a treadmill is considered personal warm-up time, not part of the actual session.)

First, she had me doing this para-military maneuver, high-stepping over blocks that were spread out at awkwardly large distances across the floor. Sounds easy? Wrong. A guy in a USMC tee shirt looked over and nodded sympathetically.

“Lift your knees up higher. Head up. Look forward, not down. Shoulders back,” she barked. “I said, knees higher.”

This exercise, in which I resembled a Neanderthal drill majorette, was designed to strengthen my hip flexors. Who knew I had hip flexors? Who knew they needed strengthening?

After an agonizing eternity of sweat and toil (50 minutes), I escaped, but only after committing to three sessions a week and pledging to come in two additional times per week to use the treadmill (again, the treadmill).


Oh, well. All this pain and sweat will be good for me. I admit I’ve let myself go to pot … as in potbelly … in recent years.

Handsome Hubby is too sweet to say anything, but I haven’t looked my best for some time. More importantly, I haven’t been feeling my best. So, now I’m starting my new get-in-shape routine. And with the help of my personal trainer, I’m confident I’ll succeed.

What troubles me, though, is not that my middle-aged body has fallen into disrepair, but the fact that I need the outside supervision of a trainer to motivate me.


It’s not like I need a doctor to tell that I’d be healthier if I exercise regularly. And it’s not that I lack the time to exercise.

What I do lack is willpower. And I know I am not alone. Why do I and so many people need the disciple and accountability of personal trainers and monitored weight loss programs? Is this a middle-aged thing?

When I was young, I didn’t need a “life coach” to supervise my activity level or food intake. I could skip a few meals and easily lose a few pounds. I liked walking, playing tennis, bike riding. Plus I was vain and wanted to look cute. What happened? When did being comfortable in my own skin slide into this lazy and complacent couch potato state?


Well, it’s 10 a.m. – time to go to the gym.

Maybe afterward I’ll treat myself to an ice cream cone! I don’t want to tempt you, but if you’re available, I’ll be at B & R at around 12:30. You can’t miss me. I’ll be the pudgy woman with frizzy hair, sweating like a fool, breathless, moaning, limping. I may even be crawling. My trainer’s threatening to increase the incline on the treadmill! Maybe I’ll make that ice cream cone a double. That’ll show her!


Treadmill Trivia

Treadmills really were invented as instruments of torture!  In the early 1800s, English engineer Sir Willian Cubitt observed idle prisoners and decided they needed to be put to useful, rigorous work. He created a device that spun on a horizontal axis so the prisoners would step upward – like walking up on an endless staircase. This “treadmill,” more akin to a paddlewheel, would pump out water, crush grain or power a mill.

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4 thoughts on “T is for Torture and Treadmills”

  1. When he was imprisoned for sodomy Oscar Wilde was required to use a treadmill. He got “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” out of it, so it can be a helpful writing tool.

  2. I kind of like walking on the treadmill, assuming it has a place to put a book, or I have podcasts to listen to. But I have a feeling I’d be going way too slow for that trainer.

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