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Musing: Treadmill Love
Going to the gym on New Year’s Day is never a good idea, but I’m glad I went. If I hadn’t, I would have never witnessed treadmill love. I thought I would share my misfortune with you.
As I expected, the gym was crowded. Resolution keepers one day into the year, determined this year would be different. People off work for the holiday. College students home for break catching up with their buddies. Middle and high school kids out of class and wanting to be anywhere but home. The usual workout crew doing their best to survive the onslaught.
Happily, I found an elliptical available for torture. I mean, exercise. With a podcast playing through my earbuds and helping to distract me from my desire to be anywhere else, I commenced sweating.
A few minutes into my routine, a pair of treadmills directly in front of me opened up. A couple in their late 20s or early 30s claimed them. I would never remember them except for what transpired over the next half hour.
Before I proceed with today’s tale, I want to highlight my long-standing claim that my musings are 100% true, except for the parts I make up. Some tales involve conjuring a good bit of a vivid imagination, something I am both blessed and cursed with.
This is not one of those stories. What follows absolutely happened.
The first act of the couple was innocent enough. In a display of gallantry, the gentleman leaned over and pressed the buttons to start her treadmill. Because of my ear buds, I didn’t hear the conversation, but I think he took the time to explain how the machine worked.
My mind flashed back to a time when I went with my sister as she shopped for a car. My job that day was nothing more than moral support. Unfortunately, clueless salesmen would talk to me about mechanics and ask my sister inane questions about color and style.
We climbed into one car for a test drive, me in the backseat and my sister behind the steering wheel. The salesman made the fatal mistake of showing her the vanity mirror behind the visor. The look she shot in his direction made me quite thankful to be out of the line of fire.
As we drove, she showed him no mercy. She asked questions about horsepower, acceleration, and engine maintenance as I struggled to keep from laughing. Watching him squirm is one of those special memories with my sibling.
Fortunately for the guy in the gym, the woman he was with played things much more coolly. She batted her eyes, smiled, and nodded. When he finished his tutorial, she started her workout. Within a minute or two, it became readily apparent that she was far more athletic than he.
As funny as that was to watch, my tale would end here if it wasn’t for what happened next. Either realizing his error, or being blindly oblivious to it, he reached out his hand and intertwined his fingers with hers.
I’ve seen many creative things on a treadmill. People walking backward. Sideways. Someone who skipped through their time.
One memorable guy sped the machine up until it was moving faster than he could. He desperately punched buttons to turn it off before it catapulted him across the floor.
What I have never seen before that fateful day was a couple jog side by side on a pair of treadmills while holding hands. Yet they did it. For several minutes.
They dropped hands only when he heard a song on his phone he wanted to share with her. He removed his earbuds and handed them to her. She took her own out and passed them to him. Without cleaning, they inserted their partner’s earbuds into their own ears and listened.
My germaphobe self cringed at the swapping of wax. Practice safe earbuds, people.
But they ignored my thoughts. They listened for a minute, smiled at each other, and swapped earbuds again. This repeated several times, with the resuming of handholding after each swap.
The guy’s cell phone rang. He dropped her hand and took the call.
Now I have seen people take calls while working out. Annoyingly, one guy went through his whole routine beside me while talking to clients. I was thankful for my earbuds that day.
But, in another first for that day, I have never seen anyone take a video call while jogging on a treadmill.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want images of me working out being broadcast. And you certainly don’t want to see them.
He talked for a few minutes. Then he turned the phone so she could talk. And be videoed.
Not satisfied with one-on-one video chats, the guy switched the phone to his far hand and held it up to his side so they were both in the frame. Now a video of the two of them working out together was being broadcast to the caller.
Then, while holding the phone with one hand, he reached out with his free hand and gripped hers.
I swear I am not making this up. He was jogging on a treadmill. His left hand was extended to his side, clutching his cell phone. His right hand clasped hers. The entire spectacle was being beamed to their friend.
If I attempted such a physical feat of balance, I would end up in traction in a hospital room.
But they weren’t done. One final, gravity-defying move remained.
With the call complete, he set the phone down in the cup holder on the treadmill. He leaned toward her. She bent in his direction. And they kissed.
First, a peck. Then a second more sustained lip lock. Finally, a full-on smooching. All while holding hands and jogging on treadmills in a crowded gym.
Fortunately for all of us, they chose that moment to leave. I’m thankful because my imagination had projected things to move to an acrobatic level of activities that shouldn’t be pondered.
Since that day, I’m happy to report that the crowds have died down. Resolutions have long since been forgotten. Students have returned to college. Middle and high school kids are back in class.
Only the usual suspects gather every day to work out.
I haven’t seen the amorous couple again. And I haven’t witnessed any more acts of treadmill love.
I hope to keep it that way.
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