Monday, December 11, 2006

Smiling at people on treadmills

Brrr. Cough. Sniff. This is cold and flu season around here, and for weeks now my husband and I have been catching one mild to moderate bug after another. Last week, I had a bug that made me feel cold no matter what I did, while simultaneously my hubby had one that made him feel overheated no matter what he did. It gets a little tricky, knowing where to set the thermostat in situations like that...

Today we both woke up fighting something that made us feel chilled, amongst other things (I'll spare you the details). But I was well enough this afternoon to do my usual work.

By late afternoon I was feeling the effects of being cooped up more than usual lately. (This is too early in the year for cabin fever. Way too early.) So I bundled up and went for a walk, just a short one, rounding a couple of blocks. I figured the fresh air and exercise would do me good, despite the rotten weather and harsh wind. (Did I mention I have a mild case of cabin fever? Or that my judgment is sometimes questionable when I'm sick?)

I am lucky in that I have several good options for walks around here. But for the purposes of this post I'll just note that most of my routes go by a certain gym on Main Street sooner or later. This gym has its treadmills facing a front window. The front window is very large. So, passersby and cars provide a show for the folks on the treadmills, and the folks on the treadmills provide a show for the passersby and people in cars.

During the spring, summer, and fall, I suppress a chuckle most days when I go past the gym. Here I am, walking just like the folks on the treadmills, albeit not so earnestly, and I'm getting fresh air and multiple opportunities to chat with neighbors over a fence. I'm getting a bit of sunshine, vital for good heath. And I'm getting all this for free. Plus I'm not making a spectacle of myself, not like the folks in leotards on treadmills, at any rate.

Today the trade-offs weren't quite so obviously in my favor. The wind was howling. It was strong enough I had to lean into it when I was facing it, and had to compensate for it when it was to my side or behind me. There certainly weren't any neighbors working in their yard for me to pass the time of day with. And yet, when I passed the gym and there was an athletic woman walking at a fast clip on one of the treadmills, I found myself suppressing a chuckle anyway. We half-glanced at each other, and my translation of the look that passed between us was that each of us thought the other person was to be pitied, just a wee bit.

For what it's worth, she is in better shape than I am. Also for what it's worth, I was enjoying myself, the wind, wet and cold notwithstanding. (Of course, I was well-bundled and it was a short walk.) She looked like she was fulfilling some grim duty.

To each her own, I guess.

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