In our modern go-go world, "Father of The Modern Treadmill" doesn't sound like a moniker that would inspire pride.
But William Staub's treadmill was the one we should all get on more often, rather than the one many of us feel stuck on wishing we could get off. By converting a piece of doctor's-office equipment into something millions of people could afford to jog on in their basement, it could be argued he did as much to improve health and fitness in our chair-bound society as anyone in the last 50 years.
Some people may only see the downside of his PaceMaster. What good is winter if not as an excuse not to go for a run? How much of the size of modern houses is related to the space taken up by the family treadmill and its many exercise-equipment offspring? How many million toes have been stubbed by owners discovering the machine has been moved as they conduct a midnight raid to the refrigerator across a darkened family room?
But then consider that Staub, whose regimen of good health included treadmill use to the end of life, died only recently at the age of 96. Just think about the heartburn the treadmill has caused actuaries and the people who sign - and have to keep on signing - cheques for pension plans built on the reclining-chair theory of retirement.
And even in households that rarely use their treadmills, Staub made a contribution. Think of all the coats, hats and miscellaneous stuff the ubiquitous device has kept off the world's floors.
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