My shark instincts kick in during a potluck. I look upon the prey sitting on the counter, vulnerable and glistening: glazed ham, buttery mashed potatoes and one seasoned lamb chop. My eyes roll white and I load up my plate.
I look up to see a friend also circling the buffet table. We’re both vying for the last piece of lamb, but because this is a civilized party, we go through the motions of being adults.
“It’s all yours,” I say.
He relents. “I really shouldn’t,” he says, patting his belly. “Just joined the 200 Club and all.”
Oh right, I think, and suddenly my appetite for the lamb chop is replaced by self-consciousness. Since turning 30, I’ve seen the numbers on the scale hover around two-hundo, and every New Year, I’ve resolved to get my weight down. But in the past year, my number skyrocketed to 220. I don’t know whether it’s because of stress, my (poor) diet or physical atrophy in the face of a pre-apocalyptic world, but I, too, am now a member of the 200 Club. And it bums me out.
What’s my excuse? I’m just a 35-year-old freelance writer with cats. I have all the time to exercise. I should be the fittest man in the world. I look down at my plate of potatoes, bread and macaroni and cheese. The road to the 200 Club is paved with beige food. I shake my head and resolve right then to get under 200 pounds.
The moment I step on a treadmill, I remember why it’s so hard to lose weight: Exercise is hard. Moreover, it’s boring. It’s just me alone with my thoughts and going nowhere, which I can do without getting sweaty, thank you very much.
In an effort to liven things up, I go to a group exercise class at the Copley Price YMCA in City Heights. The class is called STRONG by Zumba, which sounds intense but not aggro like CrossFit. The last thing I want is to push giant tires around with a bunch of grunting bros.
Our instructor Jackie explains STRONG as high-intensity interval training set to music. “If you’re looking to dance, you’re in the wrong place,” she says.
For the next hour we do squats, burpees, pushups and jumping jacks. I watch myself move unflatteringly in the mirrors. My torso shakes like an ill-fitting catcher’s pad. I’m by far the sweatiest person, and I worry I’m creating a slipping hazard for my fellow STRONGers.
At the end of the class, my ass is thoroughly kicked. Jackie asks if she’ll see me next week. “Maybe,” I say.
I step on the scale and realize that — to my horror — I have not dropped any weight after one class. The journey out of the 200 Club will be long, but it took a lot of time and evolution for sharks to become an apex species. So, yeah, I’ll be at Jackie’s class next week.