My trip to North Carolina was booked. My hotel advertised all the amenities I needed, and I couldn’t wait to get there after a day full of sitting — on airplanes, in airport terminals, and in the rental car — I was ready for some exercise. My room was nearest the pool and the fitness center. Between me and a good workout lay only a change of clothes and the ice machine.
As this photo from the property’s website shows, the fitness center includes a television, a treadmill, a weight machine, an exercise bike, and some sort of climbing apparatus. The center’s proximity to the pool can be seen through the reflection of the window. Also in the room was a rack of fresh towels and a hamper.
I typically start my workout on the elliptical machine at home, so I investigated the climber. It’s essentially 2 steps on pivots with their movement restricted by hydraulic cylinders — like the ones that keep your office chair aloft. The digital display was very faint, but functional. It would count steps and time in both directions, but there was no way of adjusting the resistance level. I’m accustomed to running the elliptical machine at a pretty high setting.
I climbed the stairs to nowhere until I ran the little bit of battery power the unit had in it out, and I went to the exercise bike. I got on and started pedaling, but there was absolutely no resistance. I pressed several buttons on the control pad, but nothing happened. Walking around to the other side, I easily saw why. There was a Medusa-style wad of wires protruding from the back of the control pad. It was as if someone had grabbed all of the cables and yanked as hard as they could. It wasn’t something I could repair.
The treadmill was plugged in and ready to go. I got it up to 4 mph pretty quickly, and was “mall walking” at a brisk pace. I tried jogging, but I thought the bang-bang-banging might break the unit or arouse suspicion from others within earshot. Back to brisk walking speed, I tried to increase the incline. While there was a button for that, and the numbers on the panel changed when it was depressed, no actual change in incline was achieved. If I wanted to walk up hill, I’d have to actually go find a hill.
My last hope was the weight machine. While I had used a variety of weight machines at my gym, I had never seen an all-in-one unit like this. Hanging on the wall nearby was a set of suggested exercises. I did some wide grip pulldowns, some shoulder presses, and some leg curls. I spent the better part of 5 minutes trying to figure out how to do a leg extension with the thing until I finally went back to my room and called it a day.
So much for a hotel with a fitness center. It was like the island of misfit exercise equipment. The next day I tried the 7 minute workout which I had read about on Life Hacker.
For the most part, this exercise was actually superior to my efforts to make the fitness equipment function. I enjoyed doing the step-up on to the luggage table. I found doing the plank somewhat gross in a hotel room, so I laid out towels so I wouldn’t have to get any closer to the carpet than necessary. The wall sit was actually quite a workout on the quads — much more so than I had imagined, although I was able to hold the position the entire time without losing my footing.
How many times did I work out during my week in North Carolina? I’d round up and say 4. In addition to my ill-fated trip to the fitness center and my 7 minute workout, I also did a solid hour of “mall walking” in and around the mall in Hickory. I say “round up” because I also count the trek between terminals at ATL, which I do without the assistance of the trains when time permits, as a bit of a workout. Okay. I’ll settle for 3.
I tried to include exercise in my travel plans, but it just didn’t happen. It’s not completely the fault of the equipment, but I can blame it on that, right?