Those who know me know that I am, as Adam Corolla puts it, Hyper Vigilante. Tiny things annoy me, minor issues explode into universes of grievances, and it can take it's toll over a prolonged period of time. This is a story which many could consider off topic, I consider it the long journey to a Kinect.
You see, I am by no means a skinny person and though my face is slightly ill formed, when added with a paunch, it just seems tragic. And so, with a friend, I decided to join a Gym named Cardinal Fitness. This gym was cheap, down the street from my home, and was typically just busy enough to have people, but not too busy that you couldn't get on a machine.
Of course, the advantage was that I could read books while running in place, and boy did I. The time I spent on the ellipticals meant I could read board game rulebooks, D&D player guides, fiction and nonfiction, etc. I did, however, lack an MP3 player and so I heard everything.
Among the things I heard were conversations that did little to impress upon me the plights of the common man. As an example, hearing two ethnic women discussing the "good news" of a cop that died recently trying to stop a domestic disturbance was depressing. Of the other things I would hear, a sorority girl had troubles convincing her boyfriend that she wasn't into choking, Obama is apparently a communist trying to convert American lifestyles, Jesus loves you but hates gays, a couple top strategies to convince ones significant other into a three way, and how disgusting and out of place fat people like myself were at a gym. These were common conversations everyone seemed to think nobody else could hear.
The entire gym was also very aggressively against those trying to improve while providing an environment appealing solely to those who are improved. Were I a vain man in my physical appearance, this place was a palace of mirrors and a testiment to my awesome rather than a penance to be served for the guilt of being out of shape. Instead, I take vanity in my mental capacity and have mentally masterbated at the turn of a phrase. Mirrors don't help in that case, instead offering a reflection of a doughy man so woefully out of place in this Beautiful Peoples Club.
Time passed and most of these issues could at least be tolerated so long as my friend forced me to continue to go but eventually he moved and my ability to work out was limited to self-control and who REALLY wants to go to an environment they despise. But I continued, solely because I was paying for it.
Then something weird happened, Cardinal Fitness became Charter Fitness and with it came a new influx of members, lower prices for those members, and a general crowding that kicked my hyper vigilance in overdrive. If I felt out of place initially, this was where I REALLY felt like a leper at a dance off (protip: Lepers have real problems with taking the left foot out during Hokey Pokeys). You see, the situation went from "at least I can get on a machine quickly" to "damnit, I gotta wait around for 15-20 minutes for a machine."
I, by nature, am a wallflower. Though I am willing to take center stage, it's often on my terms and when I'm in a situation where attention can easily be paid to me, I try to be as unassuming as possible. In a room full of mirrors, standing behind a row of elliptical trainers and stair machines, and my standing behind this row waiting for a turn for a prolonged period of time, the perception of my character can and was misconstrued on multiple occassions. Though I wait my turn, any which way I turn my gaze has a line of well defined asses. Though my intention was just waiting for my turn, I am aware of how I look. Loose jeans, generic t-shirt, possibly one of the nerdiest pieces of literature ever to be dragged into the gym (most recently, the rulebook to the miniatures board game Dreadfleet), standing nearly motionless in a perceived lecherous intent. As time passed, my willingness to throw myself into this role evaporated completely.
But then I remembered a period where my love of gaming helped me lose weight. I was addicted to early music games and among them, Pump It Up. If you're not aware, let me put it this way. DDRs pad was up, down, left, right, essentially giving you six potentially centers of gravity you could shift to. PIU had 5 buttons in a cross shape, gaining access to 10 potential centers of gravity. Likewise, PIU had what was widely regarded as the best choreographed dance game stepcharts in the industry. As an obsessed idiot, I played the hell out of this game (remember, I can take center stage but only on my terms). More importantly, I lost hella weight. As arcades died, I lost access to these machines and as such, gained weight again.
Of course you COULD always go to the easy fitness games but I tried those before with problems. The biggest being that I have downstairs neighbors who would likely prefer I not frogstomp all over my living room. Next, keeping things fresh in these programs is a huge challenge. After all, how many times can you run in place before it bores you?
But wait, one of my favorite studios makes a dancing game, only I don't have a Kinect and if I buy it, discover I don't have the room for it, well, I'm out cash, right? Right. So I had a couple friends with Kinects and after pestering them for months, one finally lent me his Kinect. After clearing out some space, I discovered Dance Center is NOT running in place or hopping related exercise. With Target's sale this week, I acquired my Kinect and now plan to lose weight in an area where I don't feel weird or out of place, my own home.
Sometimes the world just has to realize how intimidating and hostile of an environment the membership gyms are... maybe THAT'S what is selling so many Kinects. I know that's what sold mine. See? Gaming related after all!