Gym Rant: Watching TV Is Not Working Out

Hello there, Gym. I’m afraid we’re not very happy with you today. You, with your alluring TV screens built right into your elliptical machines and treadmills and stationary bikes (devices that burn calories and increase our heart rates, but don’t actually build strength or muscle mass). Sure, we bought into your cushy, hotel-like amenities for a while, but now it’s time to reveal you for the con-artist you really are.

Your argument is that said TV personal screens (and the images on them) keep us inside you for longer stretches of time, so that we’re exercising for longer stretches of time. But that logic is faulty. There are times when we’re on the ellipitcal machine watching a rerun of Friends, followed by a rerun of King of Queens, followed by a rerun of How I Met Your Mother, and we don’t even break a sweat the entire time. Technically, we may have just exercised for an impressive 90 minutes, but during that time, we didn’t really work out at all. That’s a complete waste of our time, money, and valuable TV-watching hours.

We know. This problem is as much our own fault as it is yours. We have free will. We should just switch off our personal TV screens and get down to serious cardio business. (But what about all those overhead mounted TVs? You really should turn those damn things off for good. No one watches them anyway — there’s no bleeping sound! Hence, they’re just a pointless distraction and total waste of electricity.)

But you really shouldn’t scam us into working out less every time we come to visit you. That’s not nice. After all, we’re paying you good money to use your machinery, so you should want us to get the most benefit from our experience in your clutches. Why? So that we convince all our friends to come join your fitness cult, that’s why. But not to watch TV. (We can and do accomplish that task perfectly well at home on our own.) We’re here to get fit and stay healthy. And you’re supposed to help us do that, you silly Gym.

And don’t even get us started on your personal magazine racks. If we’re comfortably able to read all about the royal wedding preparations currently happening across the pond, then we’re definitely not working out hard enough.

Shame on you, Gym. Are you trying to keep us fat, so that we have no choice but to keep coming back to you for more?

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    • Ellen W.

      So glad my gym doesn’t have TVs.I would seriously fall over if I craned my neck up to watch something above me while on the elliptical. And I love the elliptical because my herniated disc ruptures/leaks if I bounce up and down so the elliptical is the closest I can get to glorious running/bouncing while listening to Daft Punk and the Spice Girls (don’t judge me.)

    • Jen

      In defense of the workout distractions: I’m a gym junkie and a cycle through a variety of cardio and weight training programs. This concept started with runners, but a fairly common weekly cardio training plan includes the following:
      1. One tempo/challenging workout in heart rate zone 2, for 30-45 minutes. This is a pretty “normal” workout.
      2. One fartleks/speed work/intervals workout where you go in-between zones 1, 2 and 3 at a predetermined time or whenever ya feel like it, depending on the workout. These tend to be shorter workouts (15-30 mins), as zone 3 is pretty challenging.
      3. One long, slow, boring day. Here comes the magazine/TV/etc for me.The purpose of this workout isn’t to torch calories, it’s to build up endurance and an aerobic base. Listening to music for an hour just won’t cut it, and I need something to keep me engaged. I’ll NEVER read a magazine or watch TV on the treadmill because that’s asking for trouble, but it’s no problem on the elliptical/bike/stair machine. I use a heart rate monitor so I know I’m staying in the appropriate zone (zone 1) for the necessary time (45+ minutes).