Winter Workout

Well winter is here. One morning last week we had our first snow flurry of the year to the absolute delight of the kids and the mild consternation or utter indifference of everyone else. I work out regularly with weights and yoga-like exercises, but on the days I don’t do that I like to do some kind of aerobic (i.e. speed-oriented) thing, which is rollerblading or biking most of the year. About a month ago when it got too dark to go rollerblading after work, I switched to night biking, a mode of transport that has a light and a brake. Now it’s too cold out to do even that. So I need an indoor aerobic activity to see me thru until the spring.

Jeannie has a NordicTrack cross-country skiing machine that she’s been using happily for years. Just a few weeks ago when the clocks shifted an hour she started getting up early in the morning and doing a few kilometers on it before everyone else gets up for school and work. I must say I am really impressed at this; it’s something I could never do. She says it’s better than working out after the kids go to bed, which is what I usually do, and can indeed be harsh at the end of a long day.

I have not used the Nordic Track all this time, but last week I finally decided to give it a shot. I’ve never really liked the idea of working out on a treadmill, stationary bike or anything like that, because it makes you feel like a droid, in an existential post-modern post-industrial post-ironic kind of way. Meh! I’ve always thought it would be cool to hook an exercise machine up to some kind of VR or videogame to provide some fun and adventure, or at least some scenery. Ah well, I can listen to music I suppose.

Once I tried the NordicTrack I remembered another reason why I don’t use it. I’d tried it once when it was new, only to realize that it was not designed for really tall people (as is the case with so many things). It was simply not high enough or long enough for me to use properly. The pad you’re supposed to lean against was too low for proper balance, and I kept kicking the back of the machine. So it was time to start hacking! It turns out the pad is on arm that can swing up and forward when it’s time to put the machine away. I was able to make a shim and jam it in under the arm, so that it would stay in a semi-deployed position, which made enough of a difference that I could use it comfortably.

And now, having used it a couple of times, I can say it’s a pretty good workout. I can go 5 kilometers in 25 minutes or so, which is comparable to what I do on real skates, and with a similar level of effort. So it looks though it will do to see me thru the winter. Now I just have to find the right music to work out to.

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