Things I Have Learned After Three Weeks Of Personal Training

Trainers are super unfair. I have pretty decent biceps and thighs, I know what I can bench-press. It’s not terrible. But you know what she works on?

Teeny, teeny little muscles between my shoulder blades.

Apparently my posture sucks, so they’re working on my “core,” which is a synonym for “all the muscles nobody even thinks about.” She comes at my shoulderblades from over the shoulder, under the shoulder, round the side, all these little exercises designed to push my spine straighter.

She gives me a forty-pound dumbbell and I relax. Big heavy weights are easy. Because I know the real agony’s gonna be when she hands me a three-pound weight and asks me to lift something I didn’t know I could lift.

So not fair.
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Until now, my body’s basically been a carrying case for my head. I’ve done jogging and other exercises, which gave me greater strength, but none of that involved paying attention; I just ran and things got stronger.

Now we’re discovering how little I know about my body.

She’s continually telling me, “Get your shoulders back.” I thought they were. “Stand with your feel square with your shoulders.” I thought they were. “Spine straight.” I thought it was.

I have no idea what my body’s supposed to feel like.

We’ve had to devise an entirely new language to handle me, because I can’t comprehend “Shoulderblades drawn back.” Instead, she taps me on the area that’s supposed to feel tired if I do it right, and then I wriggle around while lifting until I do whatever I have to that makes that burn.

She normally starts people off with small weights so they don’t hurt themselves. She’s learned that with me, you go with big weights so I can start exhausting myself on the first stroke and feel where I’m supposed to be.

Which is weird. I’ve lived in this body for 48 years and apparently don’t know it at all.

I can’t decide whether that’s awesome or terrible.
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I now need a sweatband because I dribble sweat all over the place. I keep looking for somewhere to wipe things off, because every BDSM dungeon I’ve ever been to has sterilization towels. I know you wipe off your playspace when you’re done.

This is a small gym. I think they clean up after we’re gone. But still, I’m looking for the handi-wipes all the time.

And wishing I wasn’t such a squishy sweatmonster.
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Standing is exhausting now. I used to do it all the time, but I was doing it wrong; knees locked, feet askew, slumped. Now whenever I stand you can see me adjust – I stand, realize I’m standing wrong, shuffle my feet awkwardly, and straighten.

It’s not natural. Gini had to go to gait therapy to learn how to walk properly, lifting her feet so she didn’t trip, and she said it was super-awkward. Now it’s second nature to her.

Maybe it will be one day to me, but it’s still weird.
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Standing properly is unflattering. Slumping forward juts your jaw way out, hides those double-chins, folds your belly over. Standing tall draws you back so you have nowhere to hide from your fatness, like you’re shoving your belly out to shake hands with people.

I look in the mirror and wince, then realize that maybe I shouldn’t have been hiding that anyway.
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She has a little metal doodad she lubes up and then rakes along my triple-bypass scar. She claims it’ll break up the adhesions, get my chest more open. I cringe all the time because anyone touching my scar tissue is like someone opening up my heart all over again.

It does seem to be working, though.
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The little metal doo-dads cost $3,000 a set and there are three competing brands each of which have their own classes and zealous adherents.

I didn’t even know metal scar-scrapey doo-dads existed, let alone there was a whole fandom centered around them.

The world’s full of things I don’t know.
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This is expensive. We can’t do this forever. But then again, if this turns out to actually keep us alive and healthier for longer, isn’t it worth the expense? I mean, if we took all the money we spent eating out and poured it into this, wouldn’t that be better?

Cash is weird now.

Maybe it would be worth it. Hard to say.
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I don’t feel that much stronger yet. I don’t feel fit. It’s not like jogging, where I saw immediate progress – I’d run two more minutes, I’d run faster, I’d jog upstairs without getting winded.

This is core work, so it’s weird. I stand straighter. People tell me I look a little more confident. But she keeps switching exercises all the time, differing ones on Monday and Wednesday and Friday, so I’m never hitting the same weedly little muscles twice when I remember them.

I’m making progress. But it feels like I’m making progress at things that aren’t that important. But they assure me it is important, and so does Gini.

I’m not quitting. It’s not terrible. It’s just not the swoleness I thought it would be by now.

1 Comment

  1. Dawn
    Aug 29, 2017

    It is *so* worth it, even if only for preventing all the back problems you would otherwise have down the line. I love the fact that my trainers make me work on posture and balance, even though I don’t like doing those things anywhere near as much as I like lifting heavy weights. Give me 80lbs at the bench press any day, but especially at first, the posture and balance work had me feeling pretty damn incompetent. Now, though? Proper posture is becoming second nature, I haven’t sprained or strained an ankle in a few years (a record for me), and my balance is getting back to where it was 20 years ago when I was doing a lot of Yoga.

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  1. Things I Have Learned After Two Months Of Personal Training | Ferrett Steinmetz - […] Extending off my previous essay Things I Have Learned After Three Weeks Of Personal Training…. […]

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