I don’t always find people who amuse me, but when I do, they’re people who read at the gym. These are the lost souls who go to the gym to pore over texts while on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. I’m a practical guy, so never once have I thought, “I’m sweaty, it’s noisy, I’m bouncing up and down. What great conditions to take in a little Hemingway!” Humans who do this fall into a stratum of society which, for the sake of generalization, I will refer to as “the readrunner.” In true field guide fashion, here are my notes on this remarkable (read: unfathomable) group of beings.
One type of readrunner can most often be found in the Bear’s Lear and Bigelow Lounge. They’re usually (but not always) ladies engulfed in pink headbands, spandex, and “Seniors ‘11: Our Debt Goes Through Heaven” shirts. Clutching their copy of People, they anxiously wait 10-20 minutes to use a cardio machine. I would like to remind these people that there are actually three jillion other machines and exercises they can be doing that, God forbid, don’t involve reading about KStew and RPatz.
Of course, this is an unfair stereotype, since not every readrunner cares about gossip. Some enjoy material that’s a little too relevant. At the Nelson Center, there’s a new magazine rack that has all your favorites — I’m particularly fond of Walker’s Weekly and Tight Glutes Digest. The most ironic sight is the readrunner on the treadmill who is simultaneously reading Runner’s World. He’s looking for tips on how to be a better runner. That’s like eating a fortune cookie where the fortune reads Stop eating cookies, fatso.
The all-time fanatic readrunners are the ones who attempt to do homework on ellipticals. I’ve seen students bring all types of reading material from PDFs to encyclopedias. What are you getting a runner’s high from – Lolita? Even worse, I’ve seen students attempt to use pens and highlighters. Yes, highlighters. Annotation that even Michael J. Fox would call sloppy.
I know that some people think they can exercise and do homework at the same time. However, I’m convinced that if you read and exercise at the same time, you’re ultimately sacrificing one for the other. You should either put down the book to concentrate on maximizing your workout or go to the library to avoid half-assed reading.
But, in the event that you’ve read this far, assessed your shame levels, and still consider yourself a hardcore readrunner, I have two questions for you: If I’m reading Constitutional Law, will it feel like I’m running from the law? And when I switch over to studying Hebrew or Arabic, should I start running backwards?
To be fair, I do appreciate how readrunners only stick to the cardio machines. A sign of the apocalypse would be seeing someone crack open a course packet while lifting weights. One machine in particular scares me: it’s given name is the Hip Adductor, but we all know it as the gynecologist’s chair. I wouldn’t want to see someone lay a book down on the floor between his legs and read, “Do you like…” [CLOSE LEGS…OPEN LEGS] “…green eggs and ham?” [CLOSE LEGS…OPEN LEGS] “I do not like them…” [CLOSE LEGS…OPEN LEGS] “…Sam I am.”