Virtual Reality

6 years ago
I don’t love exercise, but I accept the fact that it’s good for me, for all of us.  Especially for us over-40 people.  Not only does it help us control our weight and tone our body, exercise gets that heart pumping and makes us sweat out all that cholesterol, or something like that.  Actually, I read recently that hard core exercise that elevates our body temperature may help to ‘melt’ the plaque in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s Disease.  I’m all about that (my mom had Alzheimer’s), so I exercise.  But, I still hate it.
Maybe if I join a gym, I will be more committed to exercise since I’m paying all that money.  There’s a beautiful exercise facility near my house.  It’s very popular and always full of people.  It’s the Jewish Community Center and they have all kinds of exercise equipment, a pool, classes, an indoor track, you name it.  But here’s the deal….I’m not Jewish.  So, I called the JCC to see if Protestants could join.  I said “Protestant” to the lady on the phone in a weird way as if it was a disease or something.  The membership lady said “of course” I could join, and chuckled when she told me that they get asked that question a lot.  Ok, sign my Gentile self up.  I am now a card-carrying member of a “gym” for the 1st, maybe 2nd, time in my life. 
I went to the JCC a few times, mostly to just run the indoor track – OK, jog, the indoor track.   Ok, fast walk the indoor track.  That went pretty well.  I passed a few old people from time to time and was feeling pretty good about myself.  I once walked alongside two people having a discussion about the best moil in the area – had to look that word up.  The track is elevated and below is the exercise room with all the torture, I mean, workout, equipment.  While you’re fast walking/running you can watch all the beautiful people down below flexing their toned and tanned bodies, running on treadmills, and re-creating other ancient Grecian poses.  From the track I notice a big banner hanging on the wall in the exercise room, promoting the center’s newest, latest, greatest piece of equipment -- a state of the art stationary bike that simulates real bike riding.  It has a screen in front of you that gives you a virtual tour of your route so, supposedly, you feel like you’re outdoors riding instead of what you’re really doing – sitting next to other sweaty people on a ride to nowhere.  Well, now, I’m thinking that perhaps this virtual ride could work for me.  Shouldn’t “virtual exercise” not really feel like exercise? Maybe I’ll just “virtually” sweat and only “virtually” want to puke.  This is for me!
Apparently, these new pretend bikes are quite popular.  I had to wait my turn to use one, my excitement building as I enter the world of 21st century exercise!  Clad in my new Everlast workout clothes from Kmart – hey, money’s not an object when it comes to looking good at the gym – I finally get my chance to mount the Mother of all stationary bikes.  (Cue “Flight of the Valkyries”, please.)   I complete my pre-flight check, adjusting the seat, checking the mirrors (OK, there weren’t any mirrors).  My time has come to ride!  I begin to pedal.  It’s pretty easy, no big deal.  I must be in better shape than I thought.  As expected, the scenery on the screen in front of me begins to move along with me.  Just call me “Allie Armstrong”, when out of the corner of my eye I notice the person next to me running on the treadmill.  It’s “Brooke Burke”, workin’ a pair of spandex pants and wearing a sports bra top with no excess flesh hanging out the sides (imagine that).  And, she’s staring at me – either that, or I’m delusional from a severe inferiority complex or lack of oxygen.  I glance over again.  No, she really is looking at me.  At first, I blow it off as what must be her fascination with my exceptional biking form.  Somewhat self-conscious, yet determined, I continue to pedal my bike over hill and dale, dale and hill (what is a dale, anyway?).  Pedaling, pedaling….through a ditch….into a tree…what the…?  This is stupid, this bike sucks.  All I’m doing is riding through grass and rocks, “virtually” running into stuff.  People are standing in line to do this?!  And what are YOU lookin’ at over there, “Brooke”?!  I got shoes older than you.  I will end my intense workout early to come over there and show you how we do things in Postmenopausal Town. 
When I get home from the gym, I break into a very detailed re-cap for my husband of the earlier virtual bike incident. How dare that woman stare at me! Who does she think she is, looking down her nose at me like I don’t know what I’m doing? I should have grabbed her by that Judy Jetson ponytail and whooped out some “Towanda” on her.   Like a good husband, he listens to my story and calmly assures me that I, too, have it goin’ on in my workout clothes and says all the other good-husband things he’s supposed to.  Then, he asks me, “You do know there are handles on those bikes to steer where you’re (virtually) going, right?”
Oy vey.
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