Me: I’m going to the gym today!
Errol: OOH! You should track your kilometres!
Me: Well…I’m going on the elliptical…Half an hour is usually only 2.5 km on the elliptical.
Errol: Oh really? Well, just go on the treadmill then.
Me: …I can’t.
Errol: Why not?
Me: It goes too fast! I’m clinging on for dear life!
Errol: So slow it down!
Me: …I can’t.
Errol: Why not?!
Me: Because then I’d just be walking.
Errol: You really are scared of everything, aren’t you?
Treadmills terrify me. They always have. There is something about being unable to control the movement of my feet that sets my body into an absolute panic. I have no idea why this is.
It starts out simply enough. I’ll step on to the hulking beast and start it up, tentatively setting it at a slow crawl. So far so good. Then I will get bold and try to up it to a power walking speed. My feet lurch and stumble as they adjust to the speed. My brain chimes in that this is unnatural feeling and not pleasant in the slightest. I try to ignore it.
Finally I up the speed to a jog, and that’s when everything goes to rot. The speed is suddenly terrifyingly fast. My feet no longer have any free will as they are forced to obey the conveyor belt of doom. My hands grip the front bar, my heart is racing with panic, and one thought jabs into my brain: if I let go of this bar, I will die.
And when your hands refuse to do anything but cling, it makes it ever so slightly harder to you know, just, turn off the machine. I manage to raise a shaking hand and it fumbles around uselessly across the various buttons and controls, none of whose function is particularly clear in my panicked state.
Finally I manage to hit what must be the cancel button, going from 30 to 0 in a single second. The nightmare stops, and I am slumped against the machine, shell shocked, while everyone around me continues to joyfully jog, their hands care free and bouncing at their sides. Then I slink out of the gym, hoping no one has noticed.
I think there’s just something about not being in control of my feet. If something goes wrong when I’m jogging, it’s no problem, I can slow down or just stop. With my feet. There’s no buttons or extra thought process required. It’s all instinct. If something goes wrong on that tread mill, that conveyor belt will keep going unless I can think quickly enough to push the right button. Exercise is terrifying enough as it is. I don’t need to fear for my life as well.
And so I am banished to simpler machines. Where I call the shots. So far the tread mill has defeated me. But that will change someday. I will bend it to my will. And it will be glorious. But until then, I will cower on the elliptical.