Tag Archives: elliptical

Total Elliptical of the Heart

25 Jan

(Oh, internet. You didn’t think you could dodge that bullet twice, did you?)

Let me introduce you to the Freemotion 500. When Anthony was assembling this behemoth, I thought the box said it was the Freemason 500, so of course I was hoping this made me an automatic member of the Illuminati. For the very curious, I have model number SFEL 16010.0. According to the manual, it has rear drive, so look for me taking it off some sweet jumps sometime soon.

A few years back, I had also been interested in getting an elliptical, and Anthony and I did a bit of research on them, none of which I remember. Back then, I was still making feeble attempts to go to the gym with Anthony, a sad tale that does not end well. You see, my husband is the epitome of a fit, strong, healthy young man, and I am his polar opposite: a flabby, weak, sickly old woman. He could stay at the gym for hours and enjoy it. The only way I enjoy the gym is when we drive past it on the way to Taco Bell.

Anyway, if you’ve ever used a gym, you know that the elliptical is the most popular machine in all of Exerciseland. Although we had a whole row of them at the gym, half were inevitably broken, and the other half were always full. In the miracle that you did land yourself a machine, the headphone jack was always messed up, and the only alternative was to watch one of the giant TVs that were always left on FOX News. I loved using the elliptical, but it just wasn’t worth it. I cancelled my membership. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Anthony and I were on our monthly trip to Costco, stocking up on Maintenance Cat and picking up some photos I ordered. Every few months Costco changes the location of its cat food. It must be an issue of national security or something (let’s move the cat food so the terrorists can’t blow it up or feed their cats!) so we wandered the store in search of cat food. It’s early January, so we pass by a collection of exercise equipment: bikes, a treadmill, and… the elliptical.

We decide, right then, that we’ll purchase it before Anthony leaves for LA. We don’t really know anything about this machine but Costco is known for its stupidly good return policy. If it craps out or I don’t like it, back to the store it goes.

It looked like a bitch to put together, but Anthony said it really was no problem. It took him about an hour and the instruction manual looked like a nightmare. Honestly, this is not something I would have been willing to do myself.

The machine itself is huge. HUGE. I was not prepared for the hugeness. We moved a chair out of the room to fit it in, and for the moment it lives in Isobel’s room. When unfolded for use, I can’t even open the bedroom door all the way. The back part does fold up, though, otherwise it would be too large for me to want to keep. It wouldn’t be practical. But it folds and unfolds very easily.

I haven’t read the manual and don’t really care about iFit (which you have to pay for online), so I’m still getting used to the features. It has a heart rate monitor, which I think is cool, and it tells you how many calories you’re burning as you work out, which is motivating.  I’m starting really slow and hope to work my way up to 30 minutes a day.

So far, I like it. I think the Freemason and I are going to get along just fine.

Let’s Get Physical

24 Jan

(I almost titled this post “Total Elliptical of the Heart,” but I refrained.) (You’re welcome.)

Right before Anthony left we invested in an elliptical machine. I’m very excited about it and even managed to start working out on it before getting sick. I have thought long and hard before adding an exercise machine to the house.

First of all, I’m a fan of the “less is more” philosophy. I’m not exactly a minimalist (I do enjoy ornamentation) but as far as stuff and clutter is concerned, I’d rather do without. I prefer to keep things pared down to the essential, the used, the necessary. Clutter makes me feel claustrophobic, suffocated almost, as if I can’t think in a room populated by junk.

And everyone’s seen those sad, dilapidated treadmills at garage sales. They’ve overstayed their welcome and their usefulness, but their owner felt too guilty to get rid of something so expensive, and probably, felt even worse about not using it. So it sat in the garage or a spare room somewhere, collecting dust, serving as a napping spot for cats, and generally becoming more and more obsolete as time marched on till it found itself on the lawn with the price tag of $20. I didn’t want that to be my story. I’ve seen it often enough.

But perhaps the real reason is I felt that getting an elliptical would be like giving up. Why on earth should I purchase such a large, expensive machine when I can just walk? It’s the sustainable solution, right? Well, self, let me tell you why: You are not going to walk outside on days when it’s so cold or so hot you wouldn’t put your baby in a stroller to come with you. I have forced myself out of the house in the cold and in the heat, but I am not going to do that to a baby.

And now, the benefits:

  • The elliptical is way easier on my joints. Since I have Crohn’s related Arthur-itis, this makes a huge difference. Walking and standing can be grueling activities for my body. There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to opt out of going to the grocery store because I just couldn’t handle the standing.
  • We were able to squeeze the machine into my bedroom, so “too cold” and “too hot” are not viable excuses.
  • I can get my heart rate going at a higher rate for longer than with any other activity. (I’m not physically able to do aerobics or sports—out of the question.) Everything I’ve read on the subject suggests that cardio is necessary for long-term health.
  • I’m moving my arms as well as my legs, so I can get a full-body workout. I’m too embarrassed to do that while walking. Let’s be honest, here.
  • It’s cardio as well as strength-training.
  • It’s fun. Kind of. I mean, comparatively.
  • I like the fact that for the most part, it’s a mindless activity. I mean, I did weights for a long time, but then I’m constantly focused on form, and reps, and exercise. BORING. I can hop on this machine, set different levels of resistance and incline, and go to it. I like that my body works while my mind is free to do something else. I realize this reveals something unpleasant about my nature: I AM LAZY. But it’s better to recognize that fact and move on, right? The machine faces a window so I can look outside and daydream while I work out.

I don’t think I will ever be able to read while on the elliptical like some people are able to (how do they do it?), so I’m looking forward to downloading some interesting podcasts and listening to NPR. Do you have any favorite podcasts? I’ve already downloaded the This American Life app, so I have all those already. I’d love to hear your favorites and suggestions.