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Sunday, 18 March 2012

In the Gym


The gymnasticon, a late-18th-century exercise machine invented by Francis Lowndes: J. Walker, engraver, based on specifications by Francis Lowndes, 1797-1798, in Sarah Bakewell, "Illustrations from the Wellcome Institute Library: Medical Gymnastics and the Cyriax Collection", Medical History 41, 1997; image by Chick Bowen, 9 January 2010

Limbs flailing, gaze fixed on

flashing counters masking

a bland vacancy of expression:

signs of going nowhere fast.

Mid drive fluid motion quantum elliptical trainer, Houston, Texas
: photo by Vitabc, 11 September 2008


Anonymous said...

A chastening thought Tom


When you tore the limbs
and trunks
into lengths for splitting

you saw firewood yes
but also history ‒
how incidental our want

and short
on understanding

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ah, we humans think of it all ...

Anonymous said...

I help out at a small organic farm at the weekends What i would have given yesterday for technology less primitive than a wheelbarrow and a shovel to move some huge heaps of compost ....

I'd like to think that i have more appreciation for whatever grows now and at the very least saved on the gym membership

ACravan said...

Well, to post a contrary view, I think Francis Lownds was clearly a visionary and, although I accept the "going nowhere fast" description, it's better to live in that reality while exercising than merely stewing in my own juices lamenting (also in solitary) over professional problems that have no easy or pleasant solutions. The answer (assuming there is a question) is to close ones eyes and listen to something pleasant and stimulating. For me at the moment that would mean The Move Live At The Fillmore 1969 and Del Shannon Live In England. It keeps me off the streets, I guess, which can be hard on the knees and I have issues with some of the pedestrians. Flowers bloomed in PA three days ago. Curtis

TC said...

While I understand that the use of these machines is now universal in a society that has embraced with typical puritan rigour the Calvinesque idea that success through self inflicted torture is a salient indicator of achieved success -- in this case, success through weight loss -- I can't help finding the spectacle of multiple adults performing a palpably ridiculous activity en masse a symptom of devolution. One contemplates the prospect of seeing through the eyes of someone living in Africa the common contemporary American urban routine of sedentary living/binge eating/ driving car to gym to work out on machine. Our diminished strain of primates lost a lot in the descent from the trees. And the current forsaking of the ability that remained -- that is, the ability to walk -- suggests a haste to cease being human while morphing into an extension of our gizmos and our bots. A few years ago a person (in fact a "professional" -- yikes) was chronicling in my presence the extreme privation he had experienced after leaving his car at the shop for repairs. "I had to WALK home," he said, in a tone much as that in which one might say "I had to have my FINGERNAILS pulled out."

More succinctly, a person (non-"professional") pipes up from the next room,"whatever happened to using your feet for getting you somewhere?"

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

As the man—oops!—the machine says “Take it all in STRIDE”—when you get to where you’re going, you’ll have plenty of time to look back on your feat!

Anonymous said...


Just what
is being peddled . . .

and for whom?

Yes Tom all those labour saving devices we "need" and get so used to . . . way beyond any notional balance

Anonymous said...

I’ve had a few days to think about
the building of a Scottish Economy
on gas and oil


spent erratics
sucked into bog
and tarn

Out at sea ‒

huge mosquitoes
making out
like bandits

(I think i’m with the stones
on that one)

Hazen said...

“Mid drive fluid motion quantum elliptical trainer.” Gaaah! The product description alone would get me running . . . in the opposite direction. Had a gymnastics coach when I was young who laughed at weight lifters and said that only exercise using the weight of the human body alone would result in a well-proportioned frame and musculature, i.e. strength and beauty.

And there’s the story of the old Chinese peasant, as much philosopher as farmer, who rejected the man-powered irrigation pump, saying, in essence: Use a machine, become a machine. To my mind, this goes a long way in explaining that “bland vacancy of expression,” and why the whole world has become so machine-like.

TC said...

I guess it's the "quantum" that causes the gobbledygook to take a quantum leap off that short pier.

Yes, in the gym it's the machines that do the talking.

All that wonderful musculature... between the ears.

Every time I see a drill rig I imagine a heavy pedal foot somewhere.

It's difficult to see oil drilling anywhere as a stable platform for anything.

How about these independent Scots energy re/sources:

the winds
the waves

Lally said...

Another obviously thought provoking pin in the balloon of current conceptions of necessities. Though I confess to using the physical rehab's treadmill on bitter winter days and stormy weather in general where I catch up on reading while treading. Probably not the best or smartest way to use one, but the research says my several heart conditions (since i've been around 145 since I was fifteen it's not about the weight biz) need me moving at a certain pace and for a certain length of time and distance most days and not every stormy day do I feel like doing what I did in early recovery which was pace around my apartment in a seemingly even more mindless repetitive action because I don't have the balance or agility to read and walk without bumping into something. Though when doing a half hour of walking in the apartment I do listen to music sometimes and try to sometimes do a walking meditation or work out lines in poems I'm still revising or etc. but for whatever reason(s) I prefer walking outside and actually looking at nature and/or city life etc. or using the rehab's treadmill while catching up on news articles etc.

ACravan said...

Popular, this one. Walking is great, obviously, but we used to find when we traveled to new places, that navigating city streets at low jogging speed (I used to imagine I was a dog or wolf on the move) was a great way to learn the map, much better than walking, actually, because walking provides too much visual information to process and setting a point of return as a goal sharpened perception. So our early morning jogs were enjoyable, healthy and helped our more leisurely strolls later. Obviously, the sight (which is on ubiquitous display in Manhattan) of large arrays of adults staring red-faced and sweatily from second and third-floor picture windows is unpleasant and unsettling. Curtis

TC said...

Oh well. This modest little squib originated as a "blog thought" (oxymoron!) later elaborated in a notebook observation made while lurking behind a pillar as a vast squadron of perfectly healthy young college students went at it like jetfueled bodysnatched zombies on rows of these weird mantis-like machines. A feeling as of watching the practice of some arcane cult religion. Headphones. TV screens. The whole nine yards of millennial anomie. All this in a "social context" (!!!), mind you.

(But then as to zombies, who am I to talk!)

ACravan said...

Last year I attended a talk by the current president of my former college, which was, as these things are generally, basically a fundraising exercise. It was poorly conceived and badly executed in all respects. One lowlight involved these exercise machine networks. Apparently our college doesn't have enough of them according to the president. Students, faculty, administration, staff and their families all actually need to wait in line occasionally to use the machines. That is wrong, apparently, and addressing the problem requires more machines, more staff to care for them and a new building to house them. This talk took place in front of a group of mostly retired alumni during one of those weeks when Greece was imploding and the stock market was whip-sawing crazily. The president's remarks elicited barely-concealed contempt and some surprisingly witty responses from the slighty liquored-up crowd. Usually, these kinds of talks are so boring, so I score this one a semi-success on some level. Curtis

aditya said...

The very day you posted this-- out of nowhere appeared a stationary gym bike on of all the places the roof-cum-terrace facing us. Although I haven't seen anyone use it (but then I hardly wake up.. in the morning)

Apart from this there is a young Sikh boy who I have often spotted driving his tricycle on the same terrace, in circles, for there is little room to walk in the gali below-- hordes of moving and parked cars, motorbikes.

Will we evolve into bots with wheels for feet?

TC said...

Wellll... at least it would be better than waiting at midnight in the rain for the bus that never comes.