Friday, January 15, 2010

Fat Lady on a Treadmill- at Sea

Middle age white women should not wear corn rows. Especially if they have a mullet. This is day five of my seven day cruise and my second trip to the pit. My first trip was on day two when we were on our way to Honduras and Neptune was none too happy about us invading his playground. Seas were rough, seven to twelve foot swells, and walking was a challenge all its own. I promised my faithful readers I would make an appearance at the floating pit, so off I went with my good intentions and an open mind.

Since it was still early in our sea adventure lots of other folks had the same idea, so the pit was well populated. Most of these folks were the dedicated pit types with their well worn workout clothes and agenda. I was lucky to find a ¾ rack unoccupied. Hubby found the one treadmill open and we were set. When the balance and coordination genes were handed out I was at the end of the line and like the kid in the back row of the Kindergarten class who only drew pictures with the black crayon because it was all that was left in the box when it finally made its way to him, I, shall we say, got the vanilla crayon. I can barely walk and sip my margarita at the same time, much less do anything that requires more than simple brain to limb commands.

Let me describe for you this wonder of modern torture, the floating pit. There is a room full of yoga stuff and spin cycles (not to be confused with laundry equipment), and a corner full of free weights. The back row is occupied by those mysterious people powered, padded benches with weights attached, a water fountain and a mini bar full of energy drinks and such as (like any of us need more calories or caffeine). The middle row has treadmills, ¾ racks, bikes and lounge chair bikes. The front row, the one with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Caribbean Sea has a few ¾ racks and a bunch of treadmills. The only machines with televisions are the ones in front of the windows. My rack is one of these. I’m confused, a frequent occurrence, as to why a person would want to watch television when they could be watching the world go by, but there they are, these personal size screens, strategically placed to block the view.

I climb aboard, program in the easy rider workout, and start peddling. Did I mention the seven to twelve foot seas? This ship is rocking and rolling, and so am I. I hang on for dear life and pedal, darting my head from side to side to see around the television which I have no idea how to turn off, or change the channel. I have my stone dead Ipod and headphones (yep, I forgot to turn it off when I put it away on the plane and we still landed without incident,) but elect not to listen to the audio of the unidentified program playing eighteen inches in front of me. The rack is situated on thick foam pads which add to the rocking motion and will do nothing for my ass when I go flying off this thing, as they are only under the feet, not where I expect to land. An oversight, I’m sure.

If everyone would spend a half hour in the pit every day, the cruise line would go out of business. I’m sure most of their profits come from the sale of alcoholic beverages. I’m not much of a drinker, but I’m swaying like a drunken sailor and trying to get a glimpse of the horizon to orient my inner ear, clutching the handle bars with white knuckles. WEEEEEEEE! Who needs alcohol? Who needs Disneyland?

After a while I get the hang of the thing and my mind begins to wander. That’s when I notice the thump, wreep, wreep, thump coming from the middle row, I think. One of those treadmills sounds like someone clubbing baby seals. To make up for my lack of coordination genes I have a gene that makes me sensitive to screeching sounds. You know the ones, fingernails on blackboards, nail files and emery boards, and baby seals being whacked. Suddenly the pitiful excuse for programming is looking better. I manage to tough it out for twenty five minutes without falling off, or having my skin crawl completely off. I have survived my first floating pit experience.

That brings me to today and trip number two to the pit. The do gooders have either given up, or got up a lot earlier than I did. The pit is only half occupied so I choose a ¾ rack in the middle row where there are no televisions. From my vantage point I have a good view of the water which is somewhat calmer than the last time we came this way. A few of the treadmills in the front row have big' out of order' signs, probably the clubbing baby seals ones, as today’s sound effects are the usual pit variety. Most of my fellow volunteers for torture are C’s and a few C+’s and C-‘s. There is the C in front of me wearing her gold jewelry, capri’s, sailor striped shirt, and flip flops. Yep, flip flops. She’s on the treadmill, walking at a pretty good clip, but not quite fast enough. Every five steps or so she has to take a few little running steps to catch up. There is the woman in her plaid pajama pants and the one that isn’t clear on the concept of leggings being something you wear underneath you outer garments.

There are a few C-25 men running, and then there is the female C with the mullet in corn rows. She and her male companion are moving from one piece of equipment to the other every three minutes or so, clearly not the seasoned pit goers. Luckily she isn’t moving fast enough for all those beads in her hair to clink together or it would sound like a castanet band in here. I suspect this is their first cruise and they have a list of the ships amenities and have decided they will take advantage of all of them while on board. When they leave the pit they will pull out the list, put a big check mark next to the pit, and move on to the next thing on the list. I have reason to suspect it will be the buffet , which I’m sure they have visited more than once.

I have no room to talk. I began my day with waffles with banana syrup, whipped cream, hash browns, bacon, a croissant, and my homage to eating healthy, orange juice. Thirty minutes on the ¾ rack did nothing to negate the effects of that meal, or any of the other similar ones I’ve had this week, but at least I went to the pit and made the effort. All this thinking and writing is making me hungry. I think I’ll see what’s on the buffet and maybe I’ll take a walk around the deck. Or not.

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