Test driving the obesity suit
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CM editor Will Shiers was offered the opportunity to wear the obesity suit at the Mercedes-Benz technology centre in Stuttgart: Me being asked to wear an obesity suit — yes, I do get the irony! At the wrong side of 100kg, I'm already well into the obese scale. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fit into it! But, reluctantly, I agreed to the assignment— much to the merriment of the entire CMoff ice. Before leaving for
Germany, more than one of my colleagues asked whether I was already wearing it! Putting on an obesity suit proves to be rather difficult. First I have to roll on the tight elbow and knee braces, which are designed to
restrict my arm and leg movements. It certainly works, so much so that slipping into the dungarees and jacket requires the help of a second person.
My next challenge is attempting to do up my shoelaces, which is difficult as I can't even see my feet. Bending over is nigh on impossible, and in the end I resort to sitting down, grabbing the dungarees and heaving one leg onto the other. Moving around the research centre is a wholly unpleasant experience, with my new chunkier legs requiring me to walk with a wider gait. The suit feels surprisingly heavy too, and I'm already looking forward to getting into the truck for a much-needed sit down. But between me and a comfortable seat is the small matter of four steps. Under normal circumstances, I find the Actros
an easily accessible truck, but it's a whole different ball game with a massive stomach and restrictive knee braces. Fortunately, Mercedes PR man Simon Wood is only too happy to give a helping hand. I slump into the driver's seat, and exhale. It's such a relief to sit down. But I don't relax for long, because I still need to close the door. I can't reach it from the seat, so have to lean out of the cab, gripping hold of the grab handle for dear life. My next challenge is attempting to put on my seat belt. When you're in a left-hooker, you tend to grab the belt with your right hand and pull it down in one fluid motion. But apparently this isn't possible when you weigh 140kg. Instead, I have to awkwardly twist my body, pull at it with my left hand, then pass it over to my right hand. Finding a comfortable driving position isn't easy either, and I find
myself having to sit closer to the wheel than I normally would to reach the switchgear. The short drive is relatively uneventful, with the only notable difference being the slight discomfort I feel while looking out of the window as I drive through a particularly tight width restriction.
Exiting the truck is another slow process, but nowhere near as challenging as attempting to climb onto the catwalk, which requires the help of a colleague. I can't imagine how much more difficult this would be if the tractor were coupled to a trailer.
It is worth stressing that your average 140kg man would not have struggled so much with these everyday tasks because they would have had years to acclimatise to their weight. It is a huge relief to take off the suit and return to my normal weight. For once, I feel quite slim!