Okay, so let’s talk about my experience with various exercise machines. Let’s start with the basic reality that I’m fat and I’m not particularly enthused about working out around a bunch of fit people who know what they’re doing. It waxes and wanes in intensity, but it doesn’t completely go away. I also have trouble being motivated if I have to actually GO somewhere to work out.
Back in high school, I bought a small home gym, and I really liked it. It had a stack of weights that went up to about 150lbs as I recall, and I started using it. The downside is I had a small bedroom, with a desk already and a bookshelf, plus the bed of course and a wardrobe, and this weight machine. I had to move a bunch of stuff around to even use it. Plus, it was the old style that every time you wanted to switch from exercise x to exercise y, you generally had to reconfigure the pulleys. And, not for nothing, it was also a bit loud in the house when the weight stack came back down sometimes, particularly if I was doing leg lifts that had the most weight, and my father, in particular, found it noisy. They also found my exercise bike pretty noisy when I was riding it, but I didn’t have anywhere else in the house to do it. I tried reconfiguring my back porch (which was an enclosed area), to see if I could get it going out there, but it wasn’t much of a solution. In the end, I sold it off to a friend who could put it in his basement.
Fast-forward from 1988 or so to 1998. I was living in Sandy Hill, joined a Good Life centre, took some coaching to develop a good workout routine, and tried to get in the habit of going in the morning before work. I’m not enough of a morning person to really do that, unfortunately. Particularly with having workout clothes, and work clothes to change into, plus the time to actually work out and get to work on time. I was doing okay, and I liked the routines, but the location wasn’t really working for me.
I tried again with a Good Life over on Queensview, and had some hopes to get going there, got my playlist going, but again, having to GO to the location was bothering me, and I was also feeling really self-conscious about myself at the time. I stuck with it for a short while, then nada.
Somewhere in there, we bought a home exercise bike, one of the good recumbent designs to take the pressure off the jewels, a little less harsh for your back. And when we moved from Roundhay to Mattamy, I had to take it apart. Since we moved in, I’ve either had no place ready to re-assemble it and use it (until we redid the basement), or I’ve been missing the parts that have to go INTO the bike to make it work again. Or I’ve been missing the manual to tell me HOW to do it. Plus, I’m not very motivated as I’ve never really loved the cycle — I like bikes, but the tension on this one always seemed extra-vibrate-y and loud. Mostly excuses, but not very motivating to do it, particularly as I’m not very handy and I don’t know what I need to do. I’m hoping it’s a five-minute job, expecting it to take me at least an hour though. Andrea would like me to get it going again though too, i.e., set up so she can watch TV while she’s doing it, and Jacob might even be able to use it on lower settings.
Enter the home solution again
In the fall of 2018, I was feeling a bit more motivated to work on my body, and I even managed to drop 25 pounds with diet and some basic exercise. But as I tried to figure out WHAT I wanted to do, the idea of the home gym came back to me repeatedly. I’d love one of the big expensive ($5K) but compact home systems with multiple stations (usually three on angles) and easy switching between exercises. One of the challenges is those are often abnormally tall for upper clearance, and lots of basement rooms won’t fit them. And with the weight, I really feel like I want one on a hard basement floor rather than an upper house floor.
I looked around at some options, and was pleasantly surprised to see that Walmart had some massive deal on the Bowflex PR3000. For example, right now, you can still see it listed various places at $1300, although the price has gone up a bit since 2018 with availability, parts, shipping, etc. But back when I was looking, it ranged between $1000-$1200.
Walmart had it on sale one week for $599. Basically half-price.
I couldn’t say no, and apparently neither could Andrea. So I ordered it. It was NOVEMBER 2018. An important date to look back to because I expected to assemble it in January 2019. I had some other issues going on then, I decided to reconfigure part of the basement first to pack up some of Jacob’s things he had laid out like trains, train tables, etc. So it was around March when I thought I would finally get around to doing this. I was still naive and optimistic.
Then COVID hit. And while that SHOULD have given me lots of time and energy to set it up and get it going, well, it didn’t. Most of my basement has been in turmoil for a good portion of that time, with stuff piled everywhere to allow me to do some stuff at one end while ignoring the other. I feel zero motivation for some really big clean-ups that I need to do.
Fast-forward through 18 more months of laziness and motivational ennui, and the thing was still sitting in a box in my basement. Unassembled, and of course, unused. Taunting me. Stressing me.
Heck, Andrea bought a trampoline in June and the assembly just about killed us. It was brutal. Did I really want to try assembling the Bowflex? Don’t get me wrong, there is a VERY serious question in there for mental health. There are literally videos on the internet about all the things the instructions for Bowflex systems, including this one, have wrong and how to overcome the errors. You don’t just take this on willy nilly and expect no challenges, particularly if your experience with home tasks generally leads to frustration more so than celebration.
Hippety hop, hippety hop
About two weeks ago, I was looking for some shelving for the basement to get my office completely set up and working the way it should be (again, hello, ennui?) and ended up ordering some basic stuff from IKEA. I need functional, not chic. Anyway, I get all the way to the end, and it asks me if I want someone to come to assemble it. I’ve never noticed this before when ordering, and I was curious how much they charge. It’s not like a Billy bookcase is hard, we’ve done lots over the years, but what could it hurt to look?
IKEA has farmed out their assembly for years, but now route it all through TaskRabbit. If you don’t know the TaskRabbit site, it is basically a freelancer’s gig-economy site where people can post their job and choose a contractor who works on those type of tasks, including in this case, furniture assembly. For reference, the average cost is about $45 an hour for the labourer, plus the overhead for TaskRabbit. It wasn’t worth it for the bookcases, we can do those ourselves as I said, but it got me thinking.
Could they assemble a Bowflex that’s known to be a royal pain-in-the-ass and that I haven’t gotten to in 2.5 years? It couldn’t hurt to pose it, could it?
I went on TaskRabbit, described the project, did a quick search through the contractors, chose one that had the most previous experience with decent ratings, and selected him. There’s a 2-hr minimum charge for a booking, and you can cancel anytime. I sent him a follow-up message through the website, he said he could do it (not exactly ringing endorsement and enthusiasm, just “yes”, but I’m trying not to stress about things I don’t need to stress about). I confirmed he was double-vaccinated in the sense that I asked him, he was good to go, I booked him for today (Thursday), and he showed up at 11 with his tools.
I started to explain to him the two main errors I had found online and warned him the instructions were supposedly terrible, to which he replied, “Oh, I know, I put one together for a lawyer in town a few months ago.”
Well, why didn’t you say so, buddy? Two and a quarter hours later, he was done. I helped him put in a bolt that was a bit tall for him to reach AND hard to do while holding the other piece in place, and I helped move it into place, but otherwise? It was all him.
I have a full Bowflex up and ready to go, and I wish I had this option back when I first bought it. Best $100+ that I have spent in a LONG time. Admittedly, TaskRabbit threw in some sneaky hidden fees I hadn’t been expecting, but hey, still came out fine. He got $90, I got a Bowflex assembled with no stress. He also hangs pictures, assembles other furniture, does basic home repair, whatever we need. I wish he could clean and sort my garage, but that’s more on me, unfortunately. Still, it is a major project DONE and DONE.
Now I have to figure out all the exercises to do, adjust the seat and benches to the right heights, figure out reps and sets, set a schedule, show Andrea and Jacob how to use it, and re-assemble the exercise bike too. Plus, you know, actually work out.
But we’re a major step closer, thanks to a rabbit. I’ll definitely call that a win.