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Gym? Rats!

A serial procrastinator commits to personal training.

I’m putting a new spin on personal training.

If you think I am going to say the biggest benefit of working out is physical fitness, confidence, the endorphin release, stronger self-esteem, more energy and a better memory, you’d be wrong. You’d also be wrong if you thought I’d say how great it feels to sweat, how much I love building muscle strength or how rewarding it is to fit in my jeans again. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let’s back up a minute. I don’t like going to the gym. I don’t like pain, I don’t like seeing myself in the mirror as I try to keep my glutes tight, gut sucked, shoulders back, head high and back straight. Most of all, I don’t like grunting through a workout alongside sweaty lifters, pumpers and lungers. I prefer to hide in the confines of my basement where I can wear a comfortable old shirt, catch up on TV and sing out loud if I so desire. The problem is, though I dress in my spandex in the morning with every intention of exercising at home. I am a procrastinator. One more load of laundry before heading downstairs… I’ll pay a few bills and then jump on the machine… I’m just going to run to the store to pick up something first… maybe I should get dinner ready and then… oh well, I’ll workout tomorrow. Did I burn calories thinking about walking on the treadmill? I did not.

Truth is, I need an appointment to keep me honest. So, last year, I hired a personal trainer. What better incentive to get me to the gym than the fear of having to pay for a missed session? So it began, and reluctantly, I showed up at the club for my hour of torture. It seemed everyone in the gym was lifting more and complaining less than I was. But I kept at it. By month two I was beginning to get into the groove, or, more accurately, less out of the groove, and I no longer dreaded my sessions.  

Just as I was beginning to get buff, I had to take a few months off for a snow shoveling injury. A quick visit to my primary care orthopedic surgeon, and voila! Instead of personal training, I was demoted to physical therapy. It wasn’t long before I realized what a great deal this p.t. thing was. The workouts are far from strenuous. Each session ends with a massage. And, insurance pays for it all. Why didn’t I get injured earlier?

Then, just when I thought things were really going well, I got the green light to go back to regular exercise. I was kicked out of therapy. I’ve never been so bummed out about graduating.

I ran into my trainer the very next day at the grocery store. She eyed my cart. In my defense, the cookies were for my boys. So were the Lays Salt and Vinegar chips. And the Dove Bites. 

By the time I admitted that I was done with physical therapy, it was too late. I was busted. I committed to recommit to her. Friday? Sure, I could come in on Friday. 

When she was finally out of sight, I slipped one last bag of chips into my cart. The party was over.

So back I went, wearing clothes that showed every cookie and chip I ate during my recovery. Did they install even more mirrors in here? When did that part of me start to sag? 

About halfway through that first post-injury workout, we began to chat about things other than muscles and weights. We talked about kids and college, vacation plans, books to read, her new washer and dryer, and more. Time was flying by. What? The hour is up? Wait, let me write down the name of that appliance salesperson. I pulled out my pen and realized that my arm was shaking and seemed to have it’s own heartbeat. My sneaky little trainer had me working harder than I had ever worked before, but she kept me distracted so I didn’t have time to think about the agony I was in.

It is now two days post workout, and the good news is that I’ve stopped swearing every time I sit down.  Although my legs feel more like jelly than working limbs, I am able to write this column because the muscles in my fingers are steady enough to work properly.

And if you are still wondering what is the biggest benefit of working out, I am happy to report I ordered my new washer and dryer without having to do any of the research myself. That’s all. I have to go lie down now.

Steve February 11, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Nice article! Well written and good story. Good luck with the workouts! It's all worth it!
Betsy Brint February 12, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Thanks Steve - I need the encouragement!

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