Conversations With a Treadmill

Last Monday I started a weekday workout routine, the inspiration for this treadmill-inspired writing prompt. The first day on the treadmill was a total chore. I struggled to jog more than a short time, and everything in my body wanted to stop after fifteen minutes. But I walked on, and for the full hour I planned. Stepping off the machine, I felt a moment of pride. “Don’t doubt me again, buddy,” I said to it, followed by a gulp of H2O. 

The next day was the total opposite. I loved it! By Thursday, I was jogging a good bit, running a couple of times, and feeling the burn. Three miles in an hour. Not bad for my first week, or so I thought.

Then, Friday came. Friday, Friday, Friday. Why do you hate me so? I stepped out of bed and felt the strain in my calves. Still, I persisted, but I barely made it thirty minutes before tapping out. I only hope a weekend of rested limbs will put me back on track come Monday.

My time with the once dreaded workout machine got me to thinking: What if it could talk to me? Let’s explore that in today’s writing prompt.

treadmill writing prompt

The Treadmill Writing Prompt: A Machine With a “Brain”?

The year is 2300, and almost everything is run by artificial intelligence. The refrigerator buddy scans for low or missing items and prepares a grocery list. Televisions converse with viewers to find the perfect show or movie for the mood. A house’s maintenance system alerts you to breakages, spills, replacements, etc., and can even walk you through home repairs.

And workout equipment is now your own personal fitness instructor.

Imagine your treadmill, bike, or other exercise machinery could speak and learn about you. It learns and understands your exercise routine, your strengths and weaknesses, your laziness and motivations.

Next, imagine that you’re slacking on your workout. You’ve missed an entire week for no reason other than you don’t want to do it. Choose from a couple different approaches:

  • The machine tries to get you to exercise on a nice, long weekend off.
  • You finally get back to it, but it’s a lazy session that you try to cut short.

What would it say to you? How would it motivate you? Would it stay positive or get real? Perhaps it’d shout across the room to put down the chips. Maybe it’s intelligent enough to discuss why you’ve not felt up to it. It could have overheard that you’re trying to fit into a dress for your sister’s wedding. The AI might sync with your health information and remind you of issues exercise would tackle.

Play with the idea of a truly personal fitness coach in your living room.

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