August 15, 2008

Further Adventures in Fitness Trauma: In which Wii Fit makes me cry

Our shiny new copy of Wii Fit, Nintendo’s so-popular-you-can’t-find-it-to-buy-it exercise video game, arrived in the mail today. Within the first five minutes of using it I had burst into tears like a 5-year-old who’s just seen Santa Claus eat her puppy.

Before you can begin the actual getting fit part of Wii Fit, it has to tell you where you currently fall on the fitness scale. It does this by calculating your height and age and having you do some balance tests and by weighing you on its handy dandy Wii Fit balance board of DOOM. This way I guess it figures you can’t lie about your weight.

The representation of you on the screen during the game is called a Mii. It’s the same little cartoon avatar you worked up for yourself when you first got a Wii game system. Mine sort of looks like me if I had darker hair, a smaller nose, and was really angry all the time. So Wii Fit let me choose this existing Mii, which despite being imperfect I felt was at least a decent facsimile of me (in as much as the options let me design something that looks like me). It isn’t tall or thin or blessed with a large buoyant bosom–it’s average in height and on the roundish side.

So when Wii Fit tallied up my BMI to weight to height to age to favorite color to first movie star crush ratio and declared me to be not just overweight but obese, I was devastated. But not as devastated as I would be a second later when it helpfully inflated my Mii to more accurately represent my actual appearance, which apparently is roughly the same as a Mr. Potato Head doll. An angry Mr. Potato Head doll.

This was the bit where I burst into tears. I mean, it’s no great shock that I’m chubby or out of shape, that’s half of why we got Wii Fit, but according to every other system I’d ever consulted I always fell firmly in the overweight but not obese section. And the ballooning of my Mii was just cruel. Especially given that they put my Mii in white exercise pants. What chubby girl in her right mind wears white exercise pants? I may as well wear the Goodyear Blimp.

The program itself is good. It has aerobics, yoga, strength training, and balance exercises. And oddly, the male Wii Fit yoga instructor sort of looks like a buffer version of Larry. But I tell you what, I’d still like to give the people at Nintendo a good smack upside the head because the way I see it, the last thing you want to do to get someone started on the path to fitness success is make them feel like a big, fat loser.

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August 9, 2006

No pain, no gain: Or some cliche crap like that

Now that the heat wave has ended, I have no excuse not to continue my efforts to look a little more like an hourglass than a manatee. That’s why Tuesday I made my triumphant return to the gym.

Right off the bat I knew it was going to be rough sailing. I’d done my lightning-quick wardrobe change since they insisted on giving me a locker right next to the only two other women in the locker room. I was playing it cool, or as cool as you can when you have just been semi-naked in front of strangers, but the coolness facade began to crack a bit when I could not for the life of me get the locker door to lock. I must have struggled with it for, oooooh, a good five minutes before one of the other women suggested that I might have read the key number wrong. “No,” I assured her. “The woman at the desk clearly read it to me: 33.” Which it turns out was the wrong number. “Which it turns out is the wrong number,” I said. They smiled indulgently and I skulked off to find the right locker. Over at locker 53, I got my clothes stashed away, said a few blessings to various gods I don’t believe in, and headed out to the main floor.

At this point I should add that I had forgotten my gym shoes, so I was forced to wear my “street shoes”–in this case a pair of black pinstripe Converse high tops. A bit dressy for the gym, which must be why the other gym-goers looked at me with such loathing–it’s all about the shoe envy.

Luckily there were only four other women exercising. One was working with the world’s most sculpted personal trainer, another was doing these bizarre walking squat things with hand weights, and the last was doing a sort of runway model walk on a treadmill a few feet down from me. I decided to take advantage of the relatively deserted equipment and hopped on my old foe The Elliptical Machine.

I was doing pretty well considering I’m me. Huffing and puffing away and trying not to look in any of the three thousand wall mirrors because there is nothing more depressing than seeing what you look like while working out. Trust me. Plus, as a not-quite redhead I have that sort of mega pale complexion that turns a totally ghastly reddish purple color when I get warm. Or move around too much. Or try to kill myself on an elliptical machine. Still, all was about as good as could be expected.

Everything changed when weird walking squat girl abandoned her weights and hopped on the machine next to mine. The. Place. Was. EMPTY. What, she couldn’t have used any of the other 30 or so machines? Obviously not. I gave her a subtle appraising look and she gave me a squintier-eyed one right back–told you, shoe envy. So of course she had to do exactly what I was doing but twice as fast, without sweating, and without any of my trademark reddish purple splotches. I’d like to say that she is my new gym arch nemesis, but I think that honor still rests with the blind weight lifter. Coming in a close second however was the girl on the treadmill–the girl I shall call Tiffany.

Tiffany had legs up to her boobs and a really obnoxious curly ponytail on the very top of her head that swung to and fro as she worked her stuff on the treadmill. She really should have been chewing bubblegum. She had these tiny little shorts and a SPAM T-shirt, which I’m guessing was the closest she’d come to food in the last five years. She left about ten minutes before I did and the entire time she was there she was strutting her stuff for all she was worth on that damn treadmill. I consider it an act of the utmost restraint that I didn’t walk over and push her off the machine.

At one point, as I was trying desperately not to glare at Tiffany, a potato-shaped older woman arrived to use one of the machines that I’ve never really figured out the purpose of. Even she was more hard core than me, moving from the bizarro machine to the stretching area to use one of those big pilates balls, something I will never ever do where someone might witness it. I respected this woman’s chutzpah and so I will not give her a derisive nickname or critique her outfit. Plus, being of a similar, if slightly less pronounced, potato shape I felt a sort of kinship with her. Perhaps we will meet again.

After about 35 minutes of fat-burning torture I finally decided to call it quits. No point in showing off when the weight-lifting lady with the seeing-eye dog didn’t even bother to show up. Back in the locker room, again with the quick change act, the perfectly sculpted personal trainer breezed by me. And here, ladies and gents, was the payoff for the day because you know what? Nothing knocks a perfectly sculpted personal trainer off her goddess pedestal quite as fast as overhearing her use the toilet. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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