Friday, January 19, 2007

Judgmental Gym Equipment

For many years I was one of those people who would repeatedly make going to the gym my primary new year’s resolution (right behind things like read War and Peace, cure cancer and floss regularly). Naturally, I kept falling off the wagon, or in the case of War and Peace the turnip truck. Then a few years ago I had the genius idea of joining the gym in the gay neighborhood. As a heterosexual female, I thought this was the perfect solution to feeling self-conscious. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed by the throng of smiley, pony-tailed stick figures who inspired an inferiority complex that inevitably sent me straight from the gym to the Ben and Jerry’s. Low and behold, good golly, it actually worked!

Today, however, I had a most disconcerting experience. You see, I have grown quite accustomed at my gay gym to the immeasurable luxury of being invisible. Today indeed started off like any other exercise day. I self-scanned my membership card and the desk attendant didn’t so much as lift his eyes away from People. Hurray, yet another victory for the rat’s nest, scrunchy-cum-sweat-band coiffure of stealth!

And then I saw it, my new enemy. Like most enemies it had a deceptively innocuous appearance. In fact, it even hypocritically masqueraded as not just benign but welcoming and friendly. It was the new Precor stepping machine, shiny and new, no doubt financed by the flux of membership fees from this year’s batch of early-January-only gym-goers who have been rapidly flaking out one by one.

When I stepped onto the machine it asked me to select a program. Fat-burner, of course! Honestly, I don’t know why the other five buttons even exist. Then it asked me to enter my age. As invisible me, I was able to enter it without the slightest flinch or twitch in regular people years, not marine turtle years, not botox years. And the machine replied, “age accepted.” Age accepted?! What, had it scanned me and decided that my entry was credible? Was this machine judging me? Before I could even recover my balance (which it is always a good idea to maintain on this kind of contraption) it was asking me my weight.

When the judgmental exercise machine asked me my weight I got a little nervous and my heart rate began to rise. It had surely already seen many a body more fit than mine. With the slight increase in heart rate, I briefly entertained the idea that the machine had thus already done its job and that I was free to go—but alas, my moment of panic had lasted but a few seconds, not a half hour. So I began to calculate. This morning when I stepped on the scale it was after drinking a large (enormous, huge!) coffee and before I had pooped. Surely I could subtract a pound or two. But would the machine buy it, or after my entry would it refuse to flash “weight accepted”? And what if this shiny, new, alluring piece of equipment were feeding my stats directly to the NSA? Should I “disappear” another pound or two from my record or would I be running the risk of this potentially being used against me as evidence impugning my credibility in a court of law? Great sigh of relief when “weight accepted” appeared on the screen. The gullible chump! Good thing too or I may very well have relapsed into the annual early-January-only crowd.

1 comment:

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