I decided fairly early on in the planning process that one of the best ways for me to stay balanced during the month that I’m here on campus is to get an exercise trampoline. I’ve got one at home that I use all the time, and have been pretty tempted these last two summers to pick one up during Walden. There is a gym with a treadmill, an elliptical, and such, but these are the style of machine that you need to press the right buttons and read the little display to get optimal use. I could coordinate with someone every time I wanted to go work out, but that’s really much less my style; I like to be able to decide that I want to exercise and get started all within the same minute, and without a lot of fuss. Often times, during the summer, I’ll simply run in place in my room for twenty minutes at a time, but there’s something about the bounce of a trampoline that I find to be much more satisfying; perhaps it’s the tigger in me.
So, at any rate, when Jess and I were out running errands on Saturday (dog food, Emergen-C, a cup measure – the usual), we stopped by a sporting goods store and picked up a rebounder. Now, the trampoline I have at home came all in one piece. I mean, I had to screw in the legs and stuff, but the frame – the main body of the thing – was one solid unit. (At present, it is one solid unit with the addition of some duct tape, as the plastic covering has come loose in some places.) Thus, I wasn’t expecting, on getting home and first getting my hands on the box, to find that the frame in this case was in four different places, bound together by heavy vinal like material, to be snapped together tent-pole fashion. At any rate, I futsed with it for a few minutes, long enough to decide that the construction of this device was beyond my mean intelligence, before consulting with my apartment mates, Scott and Rodrigo.
I didn’t let on, but I was simultaneously doing a thought experiment to see how long three adult guys would poke at a semi-mechanical device, obviously accomplishing very little in the way of getting the thing together, before one of us was brauny enough to suggest reading the instructions. In point of fact, it didn’t actually take that long, more than five minutes but less than fifteen, to be sure. Evidently the trick is to screw the frame together into two semi-circles, joined by the somewhat stretchy bouncy material (with the two semi-circles folded over each other, in the manner of a pizza turn-over), line up the ends of said semi-circles, and then apply a great deal of pressure to flatten the thing out while keeping the frame on track to snap in with a bang. The instructions were quite insistent that this was the only way to do the thing properly, and that “serious injury could result” if exceeding care was not taken, and “please be careful”, and the like. More than a bit incredulous at the complexity of the thing (we wrestled with the beast for a good twenty minutes before falling back on plan B) none of us could really appreciate why some engineer thought that this strategy would be better than just making and selling it pre-assembled.
Being guys, and imagining ourselves to be the three strong adults noted by the instructions as being necessary to properly assemble the trampoline, we had to try and try again before we decided to call for backup. Scott phoned two other faculty members who came by to lend extra sets of hands. This they did; my role became to stand on the half of the frame that was flat on the ground, in attempt to keep the whole thing from sliding around too much. After three or four goes, five of us with hands feet and bodies on, refining our technique all the while, we got the thing to mostly snap together. The final stages required some vigorous pounding with a blunt, heavy object (much grunting and exalted exclaiming along the way), but finally the thing did smash into place as advertised.
Unnecessary design or not, I have to say that it was a pretty good bonding opportunity shortly after arriving on campus. There’s nothing like some sweat and coordinated effort to bring you closer to other people. And yes, the trampoline works like a charm; it’s luxuriously quiet too, with no springs to squeak or strain. My body, and my inner tigger, are content.