I got a membership to our local YMCA back in December. It’s one of only two gyms in a 20-mile radius, the only gym with childcare, plus our health insurance is paying part of the monthly fee, so it was a no-brainer. Also, I got tired of trying to get up at 5:30 a.m. every other morning to go running.
As an added bonus, our Y renovated and expanded the cardio room last spring, so there are all sorts of new machines, most of which have individual TVs. Yay for TV while I exercise! Each machine has a place to plug in your headphones so you can listen to your show. Actually, these days I’m listening to audiobooks (the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini), so I just look at the TV screen while I listen to the book. Or sometimes I’ll play my workout music. Works for me since all of the shows on cable are reruns anyway.
But walking into the cardio room is very jarring. For one thing, it’s freezing in there. I bet it’s 43 degrees. Even after 30 minutes on the elliptical today, my arms were still cold. The other weird thing about it is the noise level. It’s silent in there. We’re talking decibel levels to rival a library. It’s odd. There are a couple of TVs mounted near the ceiling, but they’re on mute with the captions on. There’s no music pumped in, and people don’t usually speak to each other. The only sounds are feet hitting treadmills.
I feel like I’m breaking some kind of silence rule when I climb on a machine, begin my workout, and start huffing and puffing. I have exercise-induced asthma, so my breathing sounds like what I imagine a walrus with a chest cold would sound like when it’s trying to breathe while its heart rate is elevated. I pretend to not notice. “Me? Breathing too loudly? No, surely not me. I’m just here on my treadmill watching ‘Pop-Up Video’ and listening to an epic fantasy story. You must have me confused with that ill walrus over on the elliptical.”
Yeah, I don’t like it. Exercise rooms should be noisy enough to cover up wheezing, heavy breathing, and any gas expelled while running. But why should I care? It’s not like I can hear what’s going on anyway. Let’s just get the temperature fixed. Maybe bump it up to 56 degrees. That would feel downright balmy. I just don’t want to dress in layers. If I wanted a silent, cold workout, I’d get up at 5:30 a.m. and go for a run around my neighborhood. At least it would be free.