My Life on the Stair Machine




I will admit it… I love my stair machine.   Well, it’s really not my machine…it belongs to LifeTime Fitness.  But over the past 20 months, I’ve spent so much time on it, I feel as though it rightfully should be mine.

Like many relationships, ours started out on shaky ground.   My trainer, Kris Peters, worked a big dose of stair machine into my initial training plan to get ready for Everest in 2014 and I hated it.  And my coach, Scott Johnston, warned me that I would be spending more time getting prepared for 2015 with the machine than I would spend with my wife so I better learn to like it.

While the treadmills and elliptical machines are busy at most gyms, the stair machines stand mostly silent, looking down on the rest of the room; just daring people to climb aboard.   There are seven machines at Lifetime and during the over 500 hours I have spent on one of them, I have yet to see all seven being used simultaneously.   In fact it is hard to find a time when more than two are operating at the same time.   I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched people get on for the first time and quit in less than five minutes with a look of disgust on their face.   I know that feeling because that was me 20 months ago.  Since then, I have learned to embrace the pain and the boredom associated with long stretches on the stairs.  I’ve even developed special playlists on my Ipod for each speed level so that I could get into a zone and step in rhythm to the music.

Over the past 20 months, I have meticulously logged every workout so that I could report  the results back to my coaches and trainers.   Every pull up and pushup,  every calorie burned,  every mile hiked and  every floor climbed.     I have one more stair machine workout scheduled  before I leave for Everest on April 7th and at some point during that session, I will take my two millionth step.    To put that in perspective, two million steps is equivalent to climbing to the top of the Empire State Building 1075 times.   At ten inches per step, that’s 1,666,666 vertical feet which would be 145 times up Mount Everest from base camp to the summit.    Of course it is a little easier walking up a perfectly level set of moving stairs in a comfortable 70 degree environment at sea level than it is climbing through the Khumbu Icefall in subzero temperatures or up the steep blue ice of the Lhotse Face in a howling wind.   But regardless, I like to think that my machine has helped prepare me for what lies ahead.

I am going to miss the stair machine when this is all over…but not enough to get back on it when I get home.


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