Did you ever wonder about all those people on television commercials and in magazine ads who exercise in their living rooms on those cross-country ski machines? They intrigue me.

Are they married? Do they have any other furniture? Is a flat stomach really that important?It amazes me how there they are in the middle of nowhere, gliding back and forth with their arms attached to a pulley and rope, smiling to themselves. No kids hanging around their knees, no dogs nipping at their heels, no nagging spouse to tell them to "Keep the noise down, I'm watching TV" and no one yelling in their ears, "Telephone!"

No . . . just men in L.A. Gear with inflatable muscles skiing along on the highway of good health. Just women in full makeup in iridescent tights and leotards with matching headbands running as though they're expecting a visit from the NFL. Howdy Doody wasn't that happy.

The appeal for all this equipment is certainly directed at the right people - armchair procrastinators. These are persons who have been losing the same 10 pounds for the last 30 years and are looking for any excuse not to exercise, including leaving the house.

Their reasons are inspired. "They don't have classes early/late enough." "I have to make a lefthand turn at a peak period." "I can't go into work sweaty." "I'll work out when I lose a few pounds and look better in shorts." "I have a bad back and don't want to `pull' something."

The ski track in the middle of a living room is the latest in the parade of guilt toys. The first diversion to catch my attention was the trampoline. I didn't just see it as an object the size of a helicopter pad smack in the middle of my bedroom, but a monument to good intentions. I was going to jog my way to a size 8, twist my way to a waist the size of a canning jar lid, and, who knows, even perfect my dives. (I don't have a pool.) It was in the bedroom three days when I tripped over it on the way to the bathroom one night and sold it within a week at a garage sale.

Our house and garage are a museum of good intentions past. I said I'd hang by my feet, but I didn't. I said I'd attach elastic bands to the door frame and reduce my arms, but I lied. I said I'd row and pedal my way to thin, but I buried the machines in the garage.

I'm well now. I can watch those people glide back and forth on their ski tracks without so much as a bead of perspiration on their foreheads. I can watch them fold the apparatus and shove it under their beds until the next day and feel nothing.

Call me crazy, but do you know what I think? I think they're models and they're paid to look happy.