Becky sat in her car, watching people go in and out of the gym’s outer doors. They all looked impossibly fit to her, members of a secret club she’d never been able to join. She slumped down in her seat, hoping for invisibility. Which was usually not a problem.
Becky glanced at her phone. Her fitness evaluation was scheduled to start in 5 minutes. A couple came out of the doors, laughing. When Becky realized they were going to pass right by her, she fumbled to cover up the box of donuts on the seat next to her. They walked past without a glance.
Becky reviewed the reasons she was here. She was turning 30 in 5 months and didn’t want to start the new decade weighing 312 pounds. She was tired of people saying, “You have such a pretty face.” She was tired of fat clothes and squeezing into seats and being out of breath. She was tired of being tired.
So when the postcard advertising free fitness evaluations had arrived in the mail, Becky decided it was time to make some changes.
One minute until the appointment. She heaved herself out of the car and walked slowly to the doors. As she pulled one open, she was nearly run over by a pair of women, svelte and pony-tailed, chatting energetically.
She went up to the front desk. A young man, smiling, asked if he could help. She handed him the postcard.
“I have an appointment,” she said.
“Great!” he said. “I’ll let Chad know you’re here.” He picked up the phone in one hand and gestured to some chairs with the other. “Have a seat.” Becky was glad he was nice. If he hadn’t been, she probably would have chickened out.
After a minute or two, a good-looking young man emerged from an office and came toward her, hand out-stretched.
“Hey, Becky!” he beamed. “I’m Chad. Good to see you! Come on in.”
He had her sit while he asked questions about her health history and goals.
“Now let’s measure your body fat percentage,” Chad said. He picked up a little gadget from his desk and entered her age, gender, and the weight she gave him that was a good 50 pounds below the truth.
Becky was nervous as the machine attempted to calculate a number. She saw the word ERROR flash across the screen.
“That’s strange,” Chad said. He pushed some buttons and shook the machine a little and tried again.
Again ERROR flashed. And that’s when Becky realized that the machine couldn’t read high enough. Chad must have realized it, too, because his face reddened slightly.
“Hey, no big deal,” he said. “You’ve gotta start somewhere, right?”
But Becky had already gathered up her bags and was halfway out the door.
“I have to go,” she said, and she could feel her own face burning with embarrassment. She hurried across the lobby and out the main doors.
She didn’t start crying until she got to her car. She grabbed a donut and stuffed it in her mouth, knowing it would numb the pain, at least for a moment. She started the car and headed home.