On NordicTrack, going nowhere

August 22, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

Six months ago, an orthopedist told me that my running and racquetball days were over, due to an arthritic knee that had the consistency of yogurt.

In the stunned silence that followed, I had a vision.

In this vision, I saw myself as an enormous fat guy behind the wheel of a battered Ford Bronco, pulling into a Dunkin Donuts and barking at the startled counter person: "Claire, gimme a dozen powdered jelly to go and three o' them egg-and-cheese croissant sandwiches."

The vision left me pale and shaken on the examining table.

"Without exercise," I told the orthopedist, "I'm Dom DeLuise."

"Buy a NordicTrack," he said. "Less stressful on the knees."

So that day I went to the NordicTrack store and a smiling, fit-looking man named Kenny showed me the various ski exercisers. Then he stuffed a bunch of brochures in my hand that pictured smiling, fit-looking people working out on the machines.

The smiling, fit-looking people all seemed to be having a great time.

In fact, they weren't even perspiring as they worked out. And they all looked terrific in their unitards and T-shirts and gym shorts.

As I stared at the brochures, I had another vision.

This time, instead of a fat guy weaving across two lanes of the Beltway licking jelly doughnut droppings from his sleeve, I saw myself as a smiling, fit-looking man with an impressive selection of workout attire.

So I ended up buying one of the machines, the Avenger/Pro/Goliath/Supreme Challenge model or whatever they call it. It's the one in the brochure surrounded by the most smiling, fit-looking people.

Then I took it home and set it up in front of the TV set in the family room, at which point my wife said: "You can't put it there. You'll get sweat all over my nice wooden floors."

Of course, I was ready for this.

I handed her the brochure and said: "That's the beauty of NordicTrack. Look at these people, they're not even sweating."

But she said she never heard of anyone exercising without sweating and that I had to move it. So I folded the thing back up and dragged it upstairs to our bedroom.

By this time I was so tired I needed a nap, not a workout, but you know how it is. You get a new toy, you have to play with it right away.

So I jumped on and started tracking, which is NordicTrack lingo -- you probably don't know this -- for that skiing motion you do with your feet.

I was on it for a good, oh, 15 seconds when my wife came into the room and said: "Get that stupid thing out of here. It'll leave indentations in the carpet."

Of course, I was ready for this, too.

I showed her another brochure, which pictured a smiling, fit-looking woman working out on her NordicTrack in a room with thick, wool carpeting and huge vases and a gleaming grand piano.

"Look," I said, "this woman isn't worried about a couple of little marks in the rug.

"No one exercises in a place like that," my wife said. "Get it out of here."

So I ended up setting the NordicTrack up in this area midway between the family room and the play r. . . look, I can't explain it. You'd have to see the house in order to understand. And, frankly, I don't want you over here.

Anyway, I use my NordicTrack quite a bit these days and here are a few things I've discovered:

No. 1, you don't do too much smiling when you're on a NordicTrack.

This is because it's so incredibly boring. Basically, all you do is track on the skis and pull these rope-like handles and not go anywhere for 30 minutes, or however long you can stand the boredom.

I would make sure the TV is on, because without the TV, NordicTrack is like skiing in a broom closet.

No. 2, you sweat plenty using a NordicTrack. It gives you a great workout if you can stand the boredom, but when you're done, you're dripping like you just climbed out of Lake Erie.

No. 3, you can use this thing religiously, but if you don't back off on the powdered jelly doughnuts, you'll remain the same fat slob you always were, which I have managed to do.

By the way, my NordicTrack also came with some kind of computer gizmo that tells me stuff like how fast I'm going and what my heart rate is, etc.

It's really cool. I'd show it to you but, again, I don't need some stranger ringing my doorbell and barging in just to see something he or she read about in the newspaper.

Maybe someday I'll let you see the brochure.

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