Saturday, November 28, 2015

Musings on exercise rooms

As you know, I recently returned from the annual AAR/SBL meetings, this year in Atlanta (you can read about my trip there and back again). Over the years, I've noticed a distinct trend in the use of exercise equipment in the conference hotels.

When I first started attending the conference back in 2003, if you didn't get to the exercise room by 6:00 AM, you likely wouldn't get the machine you wanted. In my case, it is the recumbent bicycle. More than likely you would have to take the upright bicycle or an elliptical machine. I started getting up a bit earlier and getting to the room at 5:55. If you waited until 6:15, you likely would stand in line for about 10–15 minutes to get a machine.

Over the years, that has changed. The change was gradual, the lines disappeared with people arriving later. It became less essential to arrive before 6:00, indeed 6:15 became early enough to get whatever machine you wished. The number of pieces of equipment also changed. Where before you would see 1 recumbent bicycle, 2 upright bicycles, 3–4 ellipticals, and 3–4 treadmills, now it is 1 recumbent, 1 upright (or none), 1–2 ellipticals, and 2–3 treadmills.

This year was the most dramatic, perhaps because I haven't attended for 2 years. Every day I arrived in the exercise room between 5:45-6:10 (depending on when my first appointment was). On most days, no one else arrived in the room until 6:15. On no day did more than 2 other people enter the room before I left (usually at 6:40) and on some days, I was the only person in the room.

Meanwhile, the nation has a growing problem with weight. Hmmm...

But, exercise is only half the issue. The other half is diet. At one of the hotels I stayed at, they offered "grab and go" lunches. Basically, a sack lunch. I took one. Here's what it had: 1 white bun with ham and cheese, 1 bag of potato chips, 1 Rice Krispie™ bar, 1 packet of real mayonnaise, and 1 packet of yellow mustard. Basically, the healthiest thing in there was the mustard packet! No fiber, no fruit, no vegetable (potato chips are not a vegetable!). Needless to say, it isn't healthy; even aside from the ham, cheese, and real mayo being animal products, the white bun and Rice Krispie™ bar would cause a pre-diabetic / diabetic's sugar levels to go nuts. But this was passed off with no apparent thought as a normal lunch. Add to that the probability that whoever ate it would grab a can of sugar-laden beverage, be it carbonated or not, and you've exceeded the recommended sugar intake for the day by about 3 times! And that's just one small lunch!

Any wonder we're a nation of obesity?

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