Thursday, December 29, 2011

Earthly Neighborhood


      Madelaine was inundated with phone messages. Where was Victoria? This business of theirs was supposed to have been a partnership, not a sole proprietorship. Here she chanted her mantra: Promoting physical fitness establishes daily hope.
     Creating the memory databanks for WorkingOut.com had been mainly Madelaine’s forte, but once everything had stabilized in their day to day business cycle, both she and Victoria were supposed to have been evenly manning the office. Circuit training, aerobics, hip hop dance, strength sculpting, all types of exercise had been converted into 3D animation exercise videos for their business.
     Eighteen actors and actresses with exercise training had been hired and choreographed to do the stomach crunches, the pull ups, push-ups, calisthenics, weight lifting and dancing to make all the moves look effortless. They had all been hooked up to sensors as they went through all the motions of choreography and had been electronically attached to the advanced computer equipment to capture their movements.
     Where was that bagel tray with all the fruit juices and protein supplements? they had all clamored in unison in an effort to get through one of the days during the 3-week filming. Again the mantra: Promoting physical fitness establishes daily hope.
     The different characters had been rendered, using computer animation. It came out as a virtual dance studio with a cast of participants with catchy-sounding first names who were there to motivate, stretch and uplift the clients of WorkingOut.com.
     How come the computer driver interface to this dance video is no longer working? The software interface from the WorkingOut.com website was meant to act as a driver interface complete with password permissions so that each client user could download the workout videos. Once they were on the client’s hard drive, they could burn them on DVDs and watch them on their DVD player at their leisure. Of course, once the most recent popular computer operating system came out, the driver interface became antiquated. Needing the updates, that newest driver at this time, was not yet available on their website.
     When were the lawyers going to get back to them? She recited her recurring mantra here: Promoting physical fitness establishes daily hope.
     That had been the question on Madelaine’s mind the following day.
An elderly man had injured himself doing one of the strength sculpting videos and was threatening to sue their company, if he couldn’t come up with some kind of agreement with them.
     When one signs up with the website, there is that obligatory disclaimer stating that one should get the okay from their doctor before performing any of the exercises. Bernie, the elderly man had produced the written note from his doctor stating that he had indeed been fit enough to go through the rigors of the trendy routines. However, while doing one of the squatting moves, he pulled a hamstring and because of his advanced age, was now having a hard time recovering.
     Both Madelaine and Victoria had told the lawyers they were going to go so far as to pay for physical therapy for Bernie, in order to avoid litigation. Physical fitness was, after all their business, and getting Bernie set up with a therapist was definitely within their realm of influence.
     Why were the reviewers so harsh? In Victoria’s absence and while procrastinating for getting to her other business tasks, Madelaine read some of the reviews since the launch of their new website: Another Internet Exercise Fad, read one review; Not Such an Original Idea, read another one and the one that really hurt the most was; Do They Really Think They Can Compete? However, as startups go they were in the same league as the most current of websites. The only truly rosy review was one written by a website reviewer who had been a relative of Victoria’s.
     Promoting physical fitness establishes daily hope, she wrote spontaneously on a handy piece of paper.
     Let’s have amateurs rate the DVDs, was Victoria’s thinking. She had taken copies of the exercise DVDs to the local men’s and women’s sporting clubs and had different groups try them out. They were of different age groups and she encouraged everyone who liked the products to go ahead and rate them on the WorkingOut.com website, emphasizing that they were free to leave comments.
     Let’s advertise on free social networks. Tell a friend and spread the word, that had been their message when they spammed the networking websites with ads promising a better leaner physique from trying out their exercise animation products.
     In the meantime, a retired scientist who no longer believed in the powers of exercise, was secretly cursing the spam he was getting in his inbox from none other than WorkingOut.com. Where had they gotten his email address? Warren was working on a project that entailed writing articles about the planets of our solar system. He really believed in directing his mind to discovery and exploration of other worlds, and he paid very little attention to anything to do with diet or exercise. He was consumed with scientific facts.
     One of those facts was the circumference of each of the planets. Another fact was the number of moons orbiting each one. In fact, the laser light show at the planetarium was one of his evening highlights once a week.
     Then a scare for him . . .
     Warren’s cholesterol and blood pressure readings had suddenly gone through the roof. Urgently he had to think about the here and now – about his health as opposed to distant planets and future explorations.
     He remembered the website WorkingOut.com from the spam he received earlier on and he had a myriad of questions for them. So, he clicked on the ‘Contact Us’ button at the bottom of the website and typed this away on his computer keyboard . . .
     How much water should I be drinking?
     Will my health insurance cover your fees?
     How do I get started?
     What about nutrition?
     In fact, his email to them was composed entirely of questions. Madelaine that faithful day, which was the third one that Victoria had gone missing, fielded Warren’s questions.
     Victoria had apparently taken a vacation without leaving word because she had been over-wrought with stress. She eventually came back after two weeks.
     At hand, Madelaine wanted to ease Warren into the exercise mindset by telling him about the targeted body parts of each of the videos. From the elevated levels of his health scare, she recommended that he do some of the stretching and yoga moves first, followed by some of the easier dance movements.
     She explained that WorkingOut.com was there to offer a unique home service with the goal of getting everyone fit and healthy. Warren felt so much at ease with the rapport that he had established with Madelaine, that he sampled some of their exercise video animation packages immediately.
     “Supplement the exercise videos, by taking a brisk afternoon walk around the block,” Madelaine suggested in a later email, “ . . . and don’t forget your water and to reward yourself for all this exertion.” Did Warren need his own health mantra at this point? she wondered.
     At first, Warren couldn’t muster enough energy for the extra walks around his block, and he remedied this by hurling a myriad more of questions towards Madelaine.
     How will I know if I’ve improved my physical fitness?
     Can you recommend a dietary supplement for extra energy?
     Is there such a thing as not making enough progress?
     Their rapport by now included pictures of Warren that he sent in as attachments with his emails. In fact Warren became the first official case study for WorkingOut.com. Madelaine in their latter communication, allayed his fears of him seemingly showing no improvements, by saying that based on his pictures, he indeed was looking happier and healthier.
     Four months down the road, his bad cholesterol level had gone down and so had his blood pressure vitals.
     “How can I thank you?” Warren asked.
     “Just keep up with the exercise videos in order to stay healthy,” she replied.
     To Madelaine’s credit—Promoting physical fitness in this case, really did establish daily hope.
     Warren had a revelation . . . . He felt that although the study of planetary exploration was one of the first things on his list, keeping tabs on his health also meant appreciating his own Earthly backyard!

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