The gym is a sacred space where the clock goes backwards, probably. I've recently been engaging in the masochistic exercise of distance running, which sometimes involves willingly doing something I really, really don't want to be doing for an hour and a half or more. In other words, if there is one thing you absolutely need at the gym, it is something to take your mind off the slow crawl of time.
Bravo, my friend, is exactly that. It is the best and only channel to watch when you're working out.
This is partially due to process of elimination — there are lots of channels you should absolutely, under no circumstances, watch when you are exercising. (It is a known fact that only psychopaths watch nothing at the gym). First and foremost, avoid anything pertaining to the news. Trust me, nothing good is going on, and what you ideally want to achieve during exercise is a blank and peaceful mind. Looking at the president's face, or terrorist victims, or children in cages on the border is not going to help you achieve exercise bliss. In fact, several gyms, including Life Time Fitness, have temporarily or permanently banned stations like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News from their televisions. One Pennsylvania YMCA went as far as to bar news due to "safety concerns."
I also do not recommend the sports game du jour. For one, you have to time your visit to the gym to coincide with whatever baseball or football or basketball game you want to watch, otherwise you end up with motocross or some local league you can't be bothered to care about after 15 minutes on the StairMaster. Additionally, what would possess you to watch professional athletes being Good At Sports while you are huffing your way to mile two on the treadmill? Worst of all, all the major sports except for baseball are structured around the passage of time, meaning you are made hyperaware of the clock. Stay away!
No, it is Bravo — and Bravo alone — that will glide you through your workout with its divorcees and their shiny TV hair and its ridiculously over-the-top home shows. First of all, no matter what time you are exercising, Bravo will be airing something compatible with the gym. Maybe you'll get Below Deck, in which beautiful people enjoy some time on a mega-yacht. Or maybe one of the various Real House Wives, in which beautiful people have conversations you can sort of follow in the closed captions if you so choose. Or maybe Vanderpump Rules, a literally perfect show about a British restaurateur and her cohort of other beautiful people. The iffiest options involve cooking, like Top Chef, because looking at food while exercising occasionally makes me queasy, although I've heard from others that the meals offer motivation for the feast that awaits you when you leave the gym. Your mileage may vary.
The point is, Bravo requires just the right amount of brain power to make you lose track of time while your body is in excruciating agony, but not so much brain power that you have to pay attention to the closed captions as you cycle or row or run. You can surrender to your most base reactions — judging people on their strange, expensive outfits, or their bad taste in backyards — and not feel guilty. Hey, you're exercising over here! No one expects your blood to flow to your brain.
So what's the absolute best Bravo show to watch while working out, the creme de la creme of gym TV? Million Dollar Listing, if only because you don't even really need to have the closed captions turned on at all. Inevitably there will be some duel between real estate agents, and out-of-touch clients, and probably rosé. There will also be lots of sweeping pans in ridiculously large and probably aesthetically-displeasing houses for you to judge while you're working out. Best of all, the episodes seamlessly bleed into one another, so it's hard to tell when one is beginning and another ending. I've accidentally watched three Million Dollar Listings before without realizing it.
While at first putting Bravo on might take some getting used to — I can't tell you how long I tried to be The Woman At The Gym Who Watches Sports, before acknowledging they were making me miserable — the network is easily hidden on individual treadmill and elliptical TV screens because your body will block the view from the rest of the gym. No one will know you are meeting your mile goals to the tune of Married to Medicine, I assure you, gentlemen.
And if Bravo cannot be found, you ask? There is only one rule: If your gym does not have Bravo, find a new gym.