A year ago, a friend asked me what I thought of the Street Strider. He had seen it on The Biggest Loser or something like that and was thinking about getting one. I Googled it, and I thought, if I saw someone rolling down the street on one of those, I would point and laugh. It was The World’s First Elliptical Cross-Trainer On Wheels. Someone had taken a piece of gym equipment designed to be stationary, and given it the power to propel itself.
Hell yeah. Running is bad for your knees, bicycling hurts your back, and that elliptical trainer in the gym is sooooo boring! The Street Strider is the answer! For the low, low price of just $1,800, it will get you off the couch and give you back that six-pack you had in high school.
I told my friend that he could get a perfectly good brand-new road bike for about $600 or I could build him one for about $350, and at least he could ride that to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk, without, you know, getting made fun of by everyone in the town where he lives. I mean, check it out: It’s The World’s First Stationary Bike On Wheels! Just like the one you ride at the gym while watching the CNN stock ticker roll by, but it moves.
We’re Americans. We watch TV, and advertising preys on our insecurities and encourages us to buy products to remedy all our flaws. You have wrinkles, love handles, grey hair, restless legs, cellulite, attention deficit problems, maybe just a little depression, maybe a lot of depression, your phone is 1/8 of an inch too wide, your TV’s picture isn’t clear enough, your digital camera only has 10 megapixels, your backyard patio could be just a little more comfortable, your penis is a little too small, or your boobs are a little too small, or your boobs are big enough but your ass is too big, the vodka you drink isn’t expensive enough, and no one will ever really love you if you don’t get your shit together and follow the advice of the magazines at the grocery store checkout.
We’re the fattest, laziest country in the world. We live sedentary lifestyles, for the most part. Even the most active people spend 40 hours sitting at a desk anymore. We learn how to eat when we’re young and active, and then we continue to eat that way when we get older and less active. It’s not rocket science, but we can’t figure it out. Americans hate to change, admit that something’s wrong with the way we live. We’d rather just buy something new, and bet on that being the answer.
The Bowflex, the Total Gym, the Nordic Track, the elliptical, the Ab Roller — none of these things are going to change your life. You think those dudes from eastern Africa win the Boston Marathon every year because one day they happened to discover the best pair of running shoes in the world, and then decided to start running?
The problem is not that you don’t have the right piece of exercise equipment. The problem is inside you. When you look in the mirror and see a guy with man-boobs, there is not a “skinny person inside” you. There is a dude who would rather watch reality TV or Monday Night Football with his mouth hanging open instead of going for a 5-mile run in the rain. Everybody is excited about the Vibram Five Fingers, and they’re intriguing, but they’re not going to walk into your bedroom and wake you up at 5 a.m. to get you out on a training run. Neither is that $4,000 road bike, or your gym membership. If you are lazy, nothing you can buy is going to make you less lazy.
Here’s some news for you: If you run enough that it eventually does real damage to your knees, you’re the type of person who is going to find something else to replace running when you can’t do it anymore. You’re not a person who’s going to whine that bike seats hurt your ass, or that yoga is too expensive, or that you “just don’t have time to exercise,” and then go sit on your couch eating Doritos until one day you’re 50 pounds heavier than you were at your senior prom. It’s a matter of inertia, and overcoming inertia has nothing to do with getting out your credit card and spending money.