That Shoe/Bike/Gym Membership is Not Going to Change Your Life

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.


13 replies on “That Shoe/Bike/Gym Membership is Not Going to Change Your Life

  • Jeff Moser

    The Summit 8r has a 400lb weight capacity and has “steep” hill climbing ability. If I were obese and worked in Seattle, this is the one I’d pick for sure. Plus it’s 51 lbs, so I’d get an additional workout getting it up the stairwell to my office.

    For me personally though, I’d rather have a rowing machine on wheels, so I could row backwards into traffic. And of course I’d buy the optional Shake Weight holsters for the bow of my vessel, so I could continue the burn once I got to my destination.

  • Rebecca Shannon

    Yet again my friend, yet again-you are too honest for most of average America. But I DO like the gym and I’m off to flip tires, do push-ups and whatever other silly-looking exercises inspire me today. I would have gone for a run this morning but cuddling with the dog was much more appealing.

  • Will

    (sips Coke while reading)…

    Great post, though I know someone with restless leg, and if they don’t take their meds, they get seriously messed up.

    I’ve noticed that at every bike oriented trade show or big event (Interbike, Bike Summit, etc), some idiot shows up with an elliptigo, giant wheeled scooter, recumbent trike, or other odd conveyance, and they try to sell a bunch of bike people on the idea that “THIS IS THE NEXT BIG REVOLUTION”. Everyone knows the next revolution will be autonomous cars, but the point is, these guys have probably the worst marketing skills in the world.

    They need to be hanging out at the weight loss clinic, the astrophysics convention, the monorail enthusiasts club or somewhere else where people have demonstrable problems with self control or listening to reason.

  • Steve W. Weiss

    I’m glad I read through this post. I am so sick of people around me saying that if they had the next best [insert gear here] that they would be so much better at [insert sport here]. Here’s an idea get off your ass and train/practice, then you’ll get better. And for your friend who was thinking about getting a rollerbike thing, just say yes. It’ll teach a great life lesson. 🙂

  • Bill Boucher

    Basically, a person needs to move a little more each day than the day before. Soon parking in the farthest spot out becomes walking up a mountain.

  • Laurel

    I get lots of people telling me I’m fat and lazy and unattractive. And I still don’t look like a bikini model!

    If insulting fat people and calling us lazy would made us skinny, nobody would be fat.

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