Many years ago, before cable television, I remember seeing an amazing contraption at the house of a family friend. The dad had connected his television to his exercise bike so that the bike powered the TV. He could watch television only while converting calories into literal energy. The timing of his workouts determined what was available to him for entertainment.
Recently, my gym installed a “cardio theater,” a room with a large screen facing an array of treadmills and stationary bikes. Gym members often stop at the front desk to ask “what time does the movie start?” and schedule their workouts accordingly. Today, the timing of the entertainment determines when people are available to work out.
This week’s sign of the fitness apocalypse isn’t just the waste of gym resources (money and floor space) now required to persuade people to break a sweat. To my mind, watching a movie while you exercise is similar to trying to read a book. If you’re concentrating enough to truly follow the plot, you’re not focusing adequately on the task at hand.
But regardless of the philosophical issues, I got to thinking about what films might provide the necessary workout inspiration. How about Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV? A loop of Schwarzenegger flicks? Anything starring Sophia Vergara?
I poked my head into the theater today and saw a staff member working on the electronics. I asked her what type of movies they had loaded into the video player. “UFOs and stuff,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh, end of the world movies, that kind of thing.”
“Gotcha,” I said. Now I’m inspired.