Recently one of those highly advertised franchise-type exercise emporiums opened in our neighborhood. My son drove us by the place, and as we peered through its wide window, a wondrous site greeted our eyes: gadgetry galore, all chromed and shiny, to develop every known muscle in the human body. What I could not see anywhere, however, were some plain, old barbells. Maybe they had them tucked away in a back room, available only on special request by some uncouth throwback like myself.
From where I sit typing this, I can turn around and see an exercise bench and an assortment of barbell paraphernalia. Down in my basement I have several hundred pounds of these weighty objects, which have been my constant companions for well over a half century.
Unlike my other possessions they are in almost the same condition as they were when I first purchased them, although I did apply fresh paint to some of the plates. I suppose they must have come with some kind of guarantee, but they've never failed to function in the expected manner.
They have served faithfully.
I know exactly where I stand with a barbell, and I can precisely measure the toll of all of those years on this old carcass of mine.
It doesn't take quite as many iron discs to give me a workout these days, but I do have a certain feeling of satisfaction when I complete a session with my old friends.
When I'm no longer around, I expect that my free weights will still be here to give some younger person a workout.
As for the mechanisms in those avant garde gyms I have a feeling that they will all be supplanted by something that has more microchips and computerized intellect than the present models. Call me an old fogey if you will, but I have an inherent distrust of any entity whose intellectual capacities are greater than my own.
Barbells and dumbbells suit me just fine.