Ten minutes on a treadmill is forever, so much longer than ninety minutes in a restaurant. And though I haven’t done the math, I suspect a few bites of melon puts back all the calories you just worked off. So why go? Exercise is the one thing all health mavens agree is essential.
Someone just came up with a formula about factors which affect longevity, postulating that working out adds a year to your life. That assumes, of course, you won’t catch an antibiotic-resistant germ from the abs machine, definitely a possibility at my gym, or get hit by a car on your way home. Living another twenty years would mean 3,000 of those hours will be spent exercising. Is it worth it? If only I could know what the bonus year would get me: seeing a grandchild graduate...or polar bears struggling to balance on an ice cube.
The health club I hate going to may be, in terms of cleanliness and amenities, a notch up from Rikers, but even if it were immaculate and attractive, I’d be no more enthusiastic about it. When I lived in Los Angeles, I worked out in luxurious settings. Gyms are to LA what schools are to Boston and cafes are to Paris. They validated parking, provided backgammon tables, complimentary tea and coffee. I was doing crunches (they were called “sit-ups” then) in an elegant, small, mirrored room and each time I sat up, along with my sweaty, reddened face, I’d see Cher, her equally svelte mother and a former Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley, all of them ready for their close-ups.
There are no celebrities at my current gym. It’s above a Gourmet Garage and has no cache. It's also conceivable that insurance companies who indemnify theatrical productions won't allow actors to use our gym, considering it (like riding a motorcycle or bullfighting) to be a high risk activity. I remain loyal only because it’s around the corner; any further and I’d forego that extra year.
You can pick out the serious work-out addicts by their spiffy, spandex outfits, gloves, thick leather belts, bottles of water with added minerals that hydrate and energize. They attach weights the size of tire trucks and groan like a mother at the moment the baby’s head is crowning. They feign no interest in me or my stretched out, Tufts University Proud Parent t-shirt, which is as I like it, preferring to watch TV, read or listen to music.
This morning I reached the tipping point at the gym. Not only did I still have 22 minutes more of sweating, but the despicable Ann Coulter was on every TV screen with some of my least favorite people – Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan – discussing her appearance on “Hardball”, where she'd taken vicious snipes at Elizabeth Edwards, who’d called to ask her to refrain from hurtful personal attacks. It was too much of a convergence for me, everything on my short list all at once. I ended my work-out, and, literally, threw in the towel. If this causes me to lose that extra year of my life, I know Ann Coulter will be no more sensitive to me than she is to Elizabeth and John Edwards. Ann Coulter is the reason I hope the karma people are right.