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Elissa Ely: Wrong-Step Worries At The Gym

Elissa Ely recently had an unusual interaction on the StairMaster. (Only A Game)
Elissa Ely recently had an unusual interaction at the gym. (Only A Game)
This article is more than 6 years old.

Social trends find their way to the gym whether we want them to or not.

I was on the StairMaster with a gossip magazine, looking forward to learning the details of a recent celebrity divorce — the usual half hour of climbing steps while going nowhere. That’s the crazy nature of machines that stay in place.

A stylish young college student — black leggings under silver basketball shorts, matching bandana — mounted the adjacent machine. He had his iPad with him, and I figured he was also planning to read.

He pushed buttons, slid screens right and left, settled himself and turned to me.

"Excuse me," he said, "and good morning. I’m about to watch a movie I’ve never seen before. There may be some disturbing scenes in it, and I would like to apologize for them in advance."

This was unusual.

"I’m not certain how they might be disturbing," he said, hitting the power on the StairMaster, "because I don’t know what happens. But if they are disturbing, I’d like to say that it’s not deliberate and I apologize again."

"No problem," I said. "You go right ahead."

He told me the name of the movie. I recognized the title, and had in fact read a bit about its star in my magazine (his life is excellent Hollywood food).

I hadn’t seen the film, but didn’t expect to be offended. This was a StairMaster, not a college assignment that could cause second-hand trauma. My plan was to learn about celebrities while burning a couple hundred calories. The efficient use of gym time always brings both literary and aerobic satisfaction.

"Well, here we go," he said, starting to speed up, already huffing, and leaning low on the side-rails. "Looking forward to this."

"Enjoy," I said.

"God bless you," he answered politely, putting in his earbuds.

We live in times of social consciousness, filled with wrong-step worries. He really wanted to watch a movie. I really wanted to read. What we both wanted was to work out. Sometimes a person just needs relief.

This segment aired on April 8, 2017.


Elissa Ely Creator of WBUR's The Remembrance Project
Elissa Ely is a community psychiatrist in Massachusetts and the creator of WBUR's The Remembrance Project.



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