I’ve always envied Linda Hamilton’s “I-will-throw-your-ass-off-a-building-as-soon-as-look-at-you” muscles in Terminator II. Just this morning I was lamenting the sad state of my biceps. Hours later, I learned via Hartford Cityline that a new gym was added to the third floor of City Hall. The equipment seems to be funded by the Travelers Workers Compensation Program, and not by our tax dollars. Still, the timing of this raises questions.
It should be a priority of employers to encourage employees to be healthier. I would never knock that. But in a city where many residents can not afford gym memberships, I have to ask if it is fair for such equipment to be made available only to city employees who may or may not utilize the gym. Why not place this equipment at one of the city’s recreation centers so that many people have the opportunity to use it? Or, instead of purchasing the equipment, why not subsidize YMCA memberships for many residents? It seems nearsighted to fund something that benefits really a small pool of individuals.
Speaking of pools, Hartford has public pools which cost nothing to use. Additionally, there are many nice parks which easily lend themselves to fitness-type activities. Using the parks and facilities already in existence saves money; it also means getting outdoors. There’s something to be said for getting fresh air and sunlight. Why ride a machine that imitates a bicycle when one could actually ride a bicycle? Maybe I’m being simpleminded, but I’ve always thought it redundant to have a stairmaster machine when I could climb the stairs instead.
Besides, if I were to create a to-do list for City Hall, adding a gym would not have been at the top. I’d remodel the bathrooms, install a better sound system in Council Chambers, and address the lack of climate control in the same room. I spend little time in that building; I’d guess someone who visits weekly (or daily) could devise a more practical list than that.
This being said, what’s done is done. Is there a way to make sure that the machines actually get used? Here are some suggestions:
1. Every time a councilperson refers to herself in the third person, she has to go do ten minutes on the treadmill.
2. Whenever a mayor’s court hearing is postponed, he, his attorney, and anyone else indicted along with him must spend a minimum of 50 minutes on a cardiomachine.
3. Any councilperson using the phrase “oh nine / oh ten” (when what is meant is 2009/2010) has to benchpress his or her own weight. Someone will come by to let him or her know when it is okay to stop.
4. Open the gym to the public. Residents who enter the building for business should be directed to the third floor to blow off steam after paying their outrageously high property taxes.
Any other ideas for how to make sure this equipment gets used?