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It’s been a while since I posted! I have been really busy with work. Also, to be honest I hit a sort of rut for a couple of weeks. A lot of it has honestly been that eating healthy can be such a time commitment, whereas eating still-sort-of-healthy but not up to my goals is a lot easier. But this week I’ve been working on getting back on the right track.

One thing I did do right is join a gym, and that’s what I want to talk about. It’s been mostly great so far! I’m still walking outside a couple of times a week because I like to be in the sun. But a few times a week, 2 or 3, I’ve been going to the gym to do cardio. I generally do 35 minutes on the elliptical and anywhere from 10 to 25 on the recumbent bike. I like the sense of accomplishment I get from going to the gym, even though sometimes the walk seems like just as intense a workout.

I’ve been avoiding any kind of strength training so far, though. I haven’t really felt good enough in my body to do it, so I was planning on continuing with cardio and nutrition until I lost a little more weight, and then I would work in weight training, Pilates and yoga.

However, I joined LA Fitness, a national chain, and they offer a free workout with a personal trainer for new members (standard practice for big gyms). I thought it wouldn’t hurt to see what a trainer would have to say about what would be good for me and what kind of things I should focus on.  So, I went. And unfortunately it was a really terrible experience.

My trainer asked me first thing when I got there, if I was interested in pursuing a personal training program full time. I told him, honestly it would depend on pricing. I am a poor little freelance writer and don’t have a lot of extra cash to burn. Well, immediately I could see that the direction of my training session was going to take a brand new course.

Granted, there were some things that were my fault. I didn’t eat enough beforehand, having only had juice and some fruit all day. I also forgot my water bottle but there were plenty of drinking fountains in the room, so I thought it would be fine.

I went to personal training hoping to get a good idea of what would be useful for me personally. What are good exercises someone with my level of fitness and my size. He was not interested in helping me with any of that. I tried to tell him how much I have accomplished so far on my own but he interrupted me and changed the subject. Instead of helping me as an individual, he took me through the training session of someone who already uses a personal trainer. At every machine the weight was one step higher than it should have been, so I could barely complete the last half of each segment. And, he was going so fast, I didn’t have a chance to note which machines we were using (I know most of them, but some were new to me) and more importantly I didn’t get a chance to see what weight I was using. On top of that, he took a very militaristic approach, yelling at me and calling me a quitter when my muscles would give out. This was yesterday. By last night I was too sore to move much and for most of today I couldn’t get out of bed. I am typing like a tyrannosaurus rex with just my wrists and fingers because I have very limited movement in my arms.

Now, this is extreme. He was horrible and instead of making me feel great about the future of my fitness journey and feeling confident in all I’ve accomplished already, he made me just feel weak. To be honest with you, I was practically in tears by the time I left the gym. Although that might have been partially due to low blood sugar.

Now I’ve had a little time to process everything that happened. More than one loved one suggested I complain to the gym’s management about how many ways that trainer upset me. But, I’m not really interested in that, since I have to keep going to this gym and potentially seeing him.

What I am interested in, is figuring out what can be learned from this experience. The first thing is that, even though he was an unfriendly stranger who was not interested in providing guidance, he accidentally was useful in one way. He was a reminder that I do have a long way to go. Not knowing me, not knowing how much I’ve accomplished already, I probably looked like a lost cause to him, just there because it was free and that was that. I certainly don’t want people making assumptions about me (especially negative ones) but it’s not so incorrect. For all that I’ve done already, I’m really only just starting. I’ve made it maybe 10% of the way so far. That’s not enough.

The other thing it made me think about was how I want to proceed with working out. I don’t want to be a body builder, but I do understand cardio isn’t always going to be enough. Maybe it would be enough for weight loss, but I want total wellness. Things like strength and balance are as much a part of that as everything else I’ve been doing. The trainer said if you aren’t pushing yourself every time you work out, there’s no point. I can’t decide if I buy into that philosophy. Certainly it’s not productive to have 24 hours of injury for every 45 minutes of weight train. But at the same time it was kind of a wake up call that maybe it’s time to rise up to a next level.  I haven’t totally decided what the next level is but I will work it out.

-lj

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