Backwoods Home Magazine

Exercising with gadgets

Exercising with gadgets

By Dave Duffy

Issue #75 • May/June, 2002

We’ve all seen those TV commercials featuring all sorts of exercise gadgets that will get you that buff body or that rib-like belly with minimum effort. There are even wrap-around belts that zap your midsection with electronic pulses, allowing you to slim down without even making an effort to move your own muscles. Wow! If only they worked!

But, of course, any of us who have bought one of these effort-free exercise gadgets knows that their ultimate use is as a trashcan stuffer. They work about as well as miracle weight loss diets. They are expensive and worthless gadgets, not solutions to getting yourself in shape. The only way to get in shape is the old fashioned way—sweaty exercise on a scheduled basis.

Dave Duffy

It’s not a bad way to go, either. I have done it for years, and this issue leads with an exercise article by Richard Blunt that I adhere to, with a few modifications. For example, I like to chop wood so I often substitute chopping wood for resistance training.

But I have found a good use for gadgets to help me stay in shape. In fact, as I write this I’m on my eighteenth minute on my treadmill, which is a super-handy gadget. And I’m writing this commentary by dictating it into another gadget—a pocket-sized cassette player/recorder. It is even more useful than my treadmill because it turns the treadmill into a “work station,” making it something that doesn’t just exercise my body but allows me to continue working at what I like best—writing this magazine.

This is a critical issue for me—being able to work while I exercise. I am one of those people who can’t just exercise. I have to get stuff done, whether that stuff is working at my business or just catching the news or a basketball game on TV.

So I’ve positioned my treadmill in front of the TV, and in a little plastic basket I’ve taped to the side of the treadmill I keep the TV remote so I can switch between channels or raise the volume when I put the treadmill into a jog. Also in the basket is my hands-free telephone with headset, just in case I get an important business call while I jog. And I keep my high fidelity earphones in there too, in case I want to pursue one of my favorite hobbies—listening to books on tape.

I’ve essentially turned my treadmill into a work, entertainment, and learning center. It’s become one of the most productive areas of my house.

I am not the only busy person I know who has embraced the necessity of exercising to maintain good health but who can’t quite justify the effort to just exercise. Ron Graham, BHM’s operations manager, also has his exercise machine—a Gazelle Freestyle Glider—in front of his TV, and he typically exercises on it to the tunes of his favorite group, the Bee Gees.

Ron Graham

To me it just makes sense to make exercise fun and mentally productive. Otherwise, why would anyone continue doing it? It’s not human nature to continue doing things that make us miserable.

I have other exercise gadgets too, like a set of dumbbells, a bench, and a heavy bag, but all are strategically located so that I can do more than just work out.

These little electronic gadgets—not the electronic zappers and miracle diets—are the real miracle exercising tools of our day. They help the actual workout fade into the background, and for me they often even extend the workout. For example, I intended to use the treadmill this time for 20 minutes, but I have been so mentally involved with formulating these words that as I look down at the treadmill timer, it is on its 26th minute.

Here’s the bottom line: The greatest impediment to people exercising to maintain their health is that it takes too much time and trouble. So fool yourself by making it either fun or productive. My wife loves her jazzercise. It’s good exercise and a social event at the same time. My daughter loves her dance classes. There’s lots of stuff to do out there besides just exercising. For the sake of your health, find your own fun and keep fit.