We got a Wii Fit board like, eight months ago, and after gorging myself on turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie all weekend, I decided that I should probably take it out of the box and give it a try. I created a Mii (an avatar that’s supposed to represent me on screen while I work out) and then I selected a personal trainer. I chose the male, because he was kind of hot, in a digitized sort of way. Then the fit board determined my age, height, weight and BMI. At which point my personal trainer laughed in my face, and promptly morphed my tall, young, slender Mii into a middle aged mom Mii with a stomach pooch and jiggly thighs. At which point I stuck out my tongue. At a video game.
Anyway, the first thing my personal trainer – let’s call him Gengis – wanted me to do was a three-part fitness test. First on the agenda was step aerobics. Good. Fine. I like step aerobics. In the mid 90’s, I was the queen of step classes at the downtown Los Angeles YMCA. And I could tell, Gengis was impressed. I’m pretty sure I saw him raise his eyebrows after I managed a particularly difficult set of footwork. “Very Good,” he told me, as he labeled me an Advanced Intermediate and informed me that I had unlocked a new exercise. I smiled. I couldn’t help it. Next up was some weight training, though, and Gengis challenged me to a set of six, one-armed push ups. You’re on, I told him. I totally cheated and did them with my knees touching the floor, but whatever, what Gengis doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Begrudgingly, he labeled me an Intermediate, and I moved on with just the teeny tiniest pang of guilt. Then, finally, Gengis presented the last category of my fit test: balance.
Without warning, my Mii suddenly transformed into a little ball, and dropped onto a table with a hole in it. The table moved with my body – if I leaned left, the table tilted down to the left – and the goal was to tilt the table so that the ball would roll into the hole. Within three seconds, my ball had rolled off the side of the table. YOU FAILED, said Gengis. Let me try that again, I said. I just need to get the hang of it. I leaned to the left, leaned forward, leaned backward, leaned right, and again, my ball rolled off the table. YOU FAILED, Gengis informed me again. I detected a snicker as the word NOVICE flashed on the screen. No shit, I snapped. Have you seen the piles in my kitchen? Have you heard my kids whine for my attention? Have you noticed the unfinished manuscript sitting on top of my desk? I don’t spend all day sitting around inside of a virtual gym, working on my virtual six-pack and flirting with virtual hotties. I spend all day running around like a freaking maniac. I schlep kids to dentist appointments and to after school activities, and I help them with homework and I make dinner every night, and I fill out camp forms and in case you haven’t noticed, I just spent three days cooking for twenty-seven people, and all of last weekend hand-sewing a Native American baby carrier for my first grader’s Thanksgiving costume at school. And oh, yeah, I also, allegedly, work. So of course I’m a freaking novice at balance, Gengis! I’M A GOD DAMN WORKING MOTHER.
Well, excuuuuse me, Gengis said. All I asked was for you to roll a little ball into a little hole. There’s no need to be so touchy. Balance is just something you’ll have to work on, that’s all. It’s a goal. See? I’m writing it up here in your fitness assessment: WORK ON BALANCE.
But I shook my head. No, I told him. I don’t think so. I’m over trying to balance. It’s totally unrealistic. I mean, look at what just happened. I roll off the table every time. I’m telling you, it’s just not natural. I could try to integrate, or blend, or layer, possibly, but balancing….I don’t know. It feels very passé to me. It feels very early 2008. America has changed, you know. We’re post-racial now, and post-gender, and post-ironic, and yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re post-balance, too. It’s nothing personal. I blame Sarah Palin, actually. I mean, why not, the Republicans are blaming her for everything, anyway, so it’s just one more thing to throw on the pile. But my point is, balance is out. It’s a Not. The step aerobics is okay ‘cause it’s got that retro-cool vibe going for it, but if you don’t mind, Gengis, let’s just ix-nay the alance-bay from now on, ‘kay?
But Gengis just stared at me, his eyes unblinking. I have to go now, he said, calmly. Good work today. Next time, let’s see if you can do even better! I rolled my eyes and turned off the Wii. Sorry, Gengis, I thought to myself. But next time, I’m going to try the female trainer. I have a feeling she’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.