Machine Workout

Liv Combe, Sports Editor

Needing a break from running along the same three routes in Oberlin, I’ve recently taken to working out in the gym. I tried the treadmill a few times, and then decided that I wanted a respite from running altogether. So I moved to the elliptical machine.

This is the machine where you have both your feet on small platforms that move somewhat erratically around in circles, following the movement of your legs. You can raise or lower the incline and the resistance level of the machine, and sometimes there are poles to hold onto that are connected to where your feet are. I think of it as a stationary mix of jogging and cross-country skiing.

It’s tiring, and according to the calorie-counter, I’m accomplishing something, but nevertheless, I feel like I’m cheating at exercising whenever I do the elliptical. It’s a stupid thought, since physical activity is physical activity no matter what. But doing it on a machine doesn’t feel like the real thing. I mean, I’m in the same square meter the entire time. And I can read. And set my iPod on something. Does this really count as a workout?

I think I’ve gotten used to the runners’ mentality that nothing less than a seven-mile run is exercise or even worth doing — an idea that is totally wrong for anyone not on the cross country team. I don’t have the time to do that sort of thing anymore, much less the motivation.

I need to stop judging my workout against some sort of imagined standard of fitness that I’ve been holding myself up to. Any exercise is good exercise; that’s all there is to it. Whether you’re at the gym or outside, what matters is that you’re moving around.