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Recumbent Riches

by Channie Greenberg

Carson West smiled as he eyed the rows of occupied elliptical bikes. Sal Jonas’ class was a money maker for Carson’s Pedal Power Gym, and those recumbent machines, whose parts glistened with the sweat of club members, had proven to be one of Carson’s best investments.

Moving their arms and legs in tandem, an entire flock of gym members were not only raising their heart and respiration rates, but were also raising the funds in Carson’s bank account. While those players were enjoying a weight-bearing workout, Carson’s assets manager was enjoying a profit-bearing regime.

In other words, while the club’s denizens were using handlebars to work their upper bodies, contemporaneously with working their legs, Carson’s financial advisor was working stocks as well as bonds. Analogous to the reality that elliptical cross training provides gym-goers with better conditioning and better weight loss than does exercising on traditional bikes, elliptical cross training was providing Carson with a better portfolio and with more liquid resources than did instructing his members to use traditional bikes.

Simply, one beer-fueled night, Carson conceived of a plan to attach individual computerized controls to each of his gym’s wheeled stations. Members’ efforts generated kilowatts of power. Several utilities were willing to pay for that resource.

Whereas Carson’s rainy-day bikers believed that their meters revealed only resistance and speed, those apparati, in fact, also signaled how much juice each athlete was producing. It never occurred to those cyclists that someone was siphoning their expended energy; as is the case with most engines, the individual components of Carson’s power generation scheme functioned within a system.

His club’s bikes were hooked, via ordinary leads, to a reciprocating motor located two cities away. Their wheels’ rotary motion was translated by digital means into a sequence of strokes which admitted and removed gas and power in various urban engines. A small gauge, housed in the privacy of Carson’s office, indicated how many kilowatts club-goers were producing. Carson instructed his financier accordingly.

Carson hired and fired gym staff accordingly, too. Instructors who insisted on rigor were favored; those who led lax classes were dismissed.

In addition, Carson employed his most comely assistants to persuade the elite among his members to sign up for spinning. Such persons, who tended to pedal in sync with each other, whether for egocentric, or for other “aesthetic” reasons, had the propensity of being his most efficiently sources of energy. Such persons were also usually and easily won over by minute amounts of pandering.

Hence, Carson had expanded into foreign currencies and into local real estate. He even contemplated buying beachfront property. All was going well until “The Incident.”

Ironically, “The Incident” took place in one of Sal Jonas’ classes. Sal, who could equally inspire top sprinters to bike faster and motivate little old ladies to climb, clumsily, onto those strange-looking exercise machines, had rung in with pneumonia. Sal, whose brawn bulged out of his sleeveless t-shirts, and whose musculature never failed to peek out from his spandex trousers, had been unwilling, even for the price of lunch at the deli next door to Pedal Power Gym, to make an exception for Carson.

In brief, Sal refused to leave his sickbed. Stalwart that he was, however, Sal had convinced a friend to serve as his stand-in.

Busied with a call about penny hedge funds, Carson perfunctorily signed the forms, which had been presented to him by one of his aforementioned pleasing and wholesome-appearing helpers and which allowed Monty Larsu to become Sal’s substitute. Carson likewise failed to notice that Sal’s alternate was a head shorter and a tree trunk thinner than was Sal.

Carson failed to attend to the detail, as well, that Monty, unlike Sal, spoke in a sniveling, mostly nasal, voice. Carson could not be held accountable, though, for his ignorance of Monty’s theories on exercise; no one had thought to interrogate Monty about that matter.

Monty, a graduate of The University of Delaware’s Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Science program, had modern ideas about cardiovascular workouts. He informed Sal’s regulars that, during the span of time in which he would be replacing their favorite, he would be teaching them an array of healthy behaviors, which they could, in turn, incorporate into their lives. He addended that by gaining an improved understanding of the myriad benefits associated with exacting calisthenics, the spinning students would transform into winners.

In response to Monty’s sagacity, Sal’s athletes grunted a little among themselves. It was only after Monty challenged them to give their legs a better all-around test, by coaching them to reverse their usual forward-moving motion, that the members of the class stopped mentally assassinating Monty.

Carson, on the other hand, would have physically assassinated Monty, had Carson been provided with the opportunity. Yet, such an occasion never occurred; Sal returned to his rightful place in the spinning classroom long before Carson figured out why the electric company was beginning to charge, rather than to pay, the Pedal Power Gym.

As for Monty, he had absconded to the safety of Rutgers University’s Exercise Science Department where he was pursuing a doctorate with a specialty in physiology. Monty meant to advance select theories about performance.

Copyright © 2009 by Channie Greenberg

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