This post comes from my lovely wife Ellie, who has been working out and running circles around me for many years!
Jon and I went to the gym together last night to try to work off some of the candy my wonderful sister mailed to me (THANK YOU, BECKY!!). After a half hour on the ellipticals, we got on neighboring treadmills and started our jogs. At one point, Jon looked over at me and whispered, “You’re so short!” I nearly fell off my treadmill. Whaaat? No one told me! I had no idea! How had I gone twenty-six years not knowing how short I am?! . . . Just kidding.
I am acutely aware of my height. At five foot one and a half (and I take that half inch whenever I can get it), I guess I’m considered pretty short. But it’s never really bothered me to the point of trying to take human growth hormone—except once, when I was thirteen and read about a clinical trial where doctors were giving teenagers HGH to make them taller. I do remember asking my mom if I could volunteer. . . . Besides that, shortness is just like most other things in life you have no control over: you deal with it. Can’t reach that Tupperware container on the top cupboard shelf? Climb on the counter and get it! Can’t get that container of cookies way up high? Grab a spatula and prod it until you can reach it! Can’t adjust the shower head from down here? Stand on the side of the tub! Can’t properly slice meat at work because your arms are too short to reach? Get the kitchen stool and boost yourself up six more inches (and endure the jokes from the tall people)!
I can be very stubborn when it comes to admitting I’m short and might need some help. I can’t tell you how many times Jon has come into the kitchen to find me walking on the counters trying to find something rather than asking his five-foot-eleven self to get it. (Don’t worry; I wash the counters after my feet have been on them.) There are really only a few times and places where my height really gets to me. Concerts is at the top of the list, obviously, but the gym is another.
While some of the equipment is adjustable, by no means am I able to move, tweak, and shift everything to be just right for my height. For example, the televisions on the ellipticals are at a 45-degree angle from my eyes, which makes everything darker. Try watching The Vampire Diaries, a show with a LOT of night scenes, dark clothing, and poor lighting, on a nearly black screen! Other machines have this issue too; I’ve all but stopped using the stepper-elliptical-combo machine pretty much because of this. It’s one of the hardest workouts for me, and I need some intense distraction to get through it. A darkened screen pitched at a ridiculous angle from my face isn’t going to cut it. (But me working through a need for gym distractions is another post for another day.) Some of the machines have fans—a godsend!—built right in, but the air hits the top of my forehead, if it hits my head at all! But hey, at least I end my workout with a really cool, dry forehead. And I’ll take that little reprieve over sweating it out in my own personal cloud of humidity.
Luckily, the stationary bikes and row machines are easily adjustable for my fellow shorties and me. And I’ve found myself biking and rowing more because of it.
While I’m not here just to vent my frustrations over my height (hey, I don’t have to deal with rarified air, and heat rises, suckers!), the moral of the story is that I would love to see the makers of the arc trainers and ellipticals—and the makers of the television add-ons for these machines, especially—take a cue from the bikes and rowers to make them even more user-friendly. Honestly, if the built-in fans were adjustable like the vents in a car, a major problem could be solved! It seems simple enough to me! Adding these small elements of comfort to a workout could encourage more people to get to the gym. After all, “healthy changes everything” (that’s for you, Jono), and short people want to be fit and happy, too!