When a personal trainer looks at you with the devil in his eye, you know you’re in for it – in the best possible way. I met with my new personal trainer, Abe, for the first time Tuesday. When I initially joined a gym years ago – a different gym from where I now work out – I had three complimentary training sessions with Cliff, the owner, to get me started. Cliff launched my fitness journey with a workout routine to meet my needs at that time, including a combination of cardiovascular exercise on cardio machines as well as a full-body weight lifting/conditioning routine using the weight lifting machines. Kudos to Cliff as that workout has taken me far; however, as I am apt to do, I have gotten very comfortable with this routine. My weight loss has tapered off and I have started questioning my workout’s effectiveness. Add to that my boredom with this stagnant plan and I felt it was time to make a change. Enter Abe.
I first spoke to Abe a few weeks ago, inquiring about my gym’s personal training packages. As we talked about my goals I discovered he has lost 113 pounds. I knew in that moment my search was over – this was my guy! He has made this journey and finished it, he knows what it takes to get through the difficult last leg and he knows how to maintain and improve physical fitness beyond weight loss. I took his card home with me that night, excited at my luck in finding the perfect trainer. Of course, I may eat these words later if I find myself hunched over a puke bucket in the back corner of Snap Fitness. Nonetheless, I met again with Abe this week for my pre-training fitness assessment.
The assessment itself ranged from pedestrian to agonizing. I answered dozens of questions about my medical and fitness history, was weighed, had my body parts measured, my blood pressure taken and my body fat percentage assessed. Next up was the Vo2 max stress test – an aerobic capacity test on a stationary bike to determine my rate of oxygen consumption. After pedaling, leisurely in the beginning and furiously right up to the end, my score put me above average for my age and gender and impressed Abe. Evidently no client of his has ever scored higher or pedaled longer than me. The next test was flexibility – did pretty well there. Then, strength, where I bench pressed 85 pounds or just over 46% of my body weight; followed by sit-ups. Oh, the sit-ups! After doing only 13 in 30 seconds, half of which shouldn’t have counted based on my form, I was acutely aware how much my old workout has neglected my core. Now we have established my baseline and can concisely track my progress from here on out.
I have high hopes for my personal training. I will have three half-hour sessions with Abe, during which he will teach me a range of exercises for me to incorporate in exciting and diverse new workouts. I know I need increased intensity, I need muscle confusion and I need complex movements to get the most effective workout from each exercise. I am anxious to work more off the machines, finally incorporating free weights, kettle bells, balance balls and the jump box – all of which are as exciting as they are daunting. More than being physically pushed to my limits, I need to feel challenged and reinvigorated. I need to walk into and, especially, out of that gym each night feeling like a badass. I need not to be handled with kid gloves, but, rather, to learn to find my current limitations and discover how to relentlessly plow through them. The first few years of my gym journey have been rewarding – I have lost over 100 pounds and greatly improved my health. But this next stage dawning is about transforming into the athlete I want to become: lean and muscular, a powerhouse of strength and endurance. I want to pin my own “she squats, bro” glutes photo onto my Pinterest fitness inspiration board.
As Abe was filling out my paperwork and he stopped to let me know I will need a physician’s note allowing me to do training he did so with a mischievous look in his eye. He said, smirking as if this were the moment half his clientele shivered in fear, “this isn’t going to be like what you are doing now – this is going to be intense.” In response, I “saw” his smirk and “raised” him a canary-eating toothy cat grin and replied, “Bring It.”