Things I Have Learned After Two Months Of Personal Training

Extending off my previous essay Things I Have Learned After Three Weeks Of Personal Training….

I stand up wrong.

My trainer refuses to hit my quadriceps, or, as I call them, “the muscles in front of my thighs,” because they are strong. They’re too strong, in fact.  They’re so strong my other muscles have atrophied because my quads, like that loudmouthed dude in the trustbuilding exercises, rushes in to do everything until everyone else has given up.

When I stand up, I sort of cross my legs and push with the front of my thighs, which is something I’ve done unquestioned for forty-plus years.

My trainer questions, though. She gave me an exercise where I had to get up off a chair on one leg using only my glutes.  I couldn’t do it.  Like, literally, even when she gave me a hand and helped me pull, I was helpless as a kid.

So now, when I get up off the couch, I have to plant my feet equidistantly and shove, like a long-distance ski jumper racing down the slope.  And half the time I get off the couch using my old method and then have to return, sit down, and stand up the right way.

I now can get up with one leg.  But I still need her help.


The dietary changes are creeping in.  Every morning, we drink a quarter cup of fish oil.

It’s not as bad as you’d think.  Or at least I’d think.  I like drinking olive oil – a habit I picked up in Italy – and pure fish oil doesn’t taste fishy.  And since my cardiologist already said I had to take four horse-sized pills of fish oil a day, which damn near choked me and were occasionally rancid, it’s easier just to slurp the fish oil and be done.

It’s the ketones that I can’t stand.

The ketones are, as my sweetie Fox reminds me, not entirely justified through scientific study alone.  And they taste like chemical orange creamsicle goop, which is cloying and sickening.  But we agreed to try them for a month, and the one day I skipped my ketones I had the worst possible workout, and I actually do think it helps me think more clearly.

So here we are: maybe it’s bullshit, but anecdotal evidence seems to be in its favor.

I pity my wife, however, because to shut our trainer up she tried going off gluten – a substance which, as it turns out, is in everything delicious.  To my wife’s horror, her arthritis immediately got better and her face got less puffy.

She does not want to find that the gluten-free lifestyle will make her healthier, because we both love bread.  But evidence is piling up, evidence we, in fact, do not want.


I am clueless as to how my body works.

My trainer will demonstrate how I should look when I lift a weight, and I can see her doing it – yet I am incapable of mapping her stance onto my body. I flail around while she pushes me into place, hoping I’ll get it if she literally molds me like clay.

She’s learning to speak my language, because the only thing I know is “What muscles burn when I move them.” She’s constantly touching my back when I work out, saying, “Do you feel it here?” And if I don’t, I shift things around until I feel it there.

But even that is tricky, because I have an immense pain tolerance.  My appendix burst while I was in a mosh pit and I wandered around for three days afterwards with pain my doctor said should have had me writhing on the floor.  So I not only am flailing, but numb.  I usually have to lift the weights five or six times before I feel the strain clear enough to mark it, and by then I may have done them in the wrong place.

And everything is miniscule.  If my shoulders slump or my feet are angled wrong, I work an entirely different muscle.  Maybe one I shouldn’t have worked.

If I fuck up, it’s body work.


Body work feels like it should be a vacation from exercise.  I lay down, she massages me for forty minutes.

Except it’s not massage.  It’s painful.  She’s contorting me because my body has been standing wrong for years and she’s trying to yank me back into position – my feet are splayed out, my back is hunched like a question mark, my hips refuse to open up.

Body work consists of her digging fingers into my muscles until I’m thumping the floor with pain, and me realizing how far I have to go.

I will do almost anything to avoid body work, but because I am numb to my body I keep straining things I shouldn’t and then I have to be repaired.

Repair is humiliating.  Even if she tries to be really chipper about it.


She does keep raising the weights, though.  She’s impressed by that.

She told me that I could have been a hell of a power lifter if I’d started younger.  Which fills me with pride; my body may have cluelessly sagged into a slouch it’s taking months to unkink, but it does build muscle like no tomorrow.

People told me I had a bodybuilder’s form when I was in my twenties.  Nice to hear they were right.

Maybe I’ll have abs before I die.


 

I still can’t stand. I’m befuddled when Gini tells me my butt is too far in and my feet are pointing in opposite directions.   Standing correctly feels apelike, like some bizarre hunch, this isn’t how people do it, is it?

I watch the guys in the garage as we do Woodworking Wednesdays, seeing how they’re standing.  It’s not like I’m supposed to, I think.  Or is it?

God, I’m spending more time thinking about my hips than Beyonce.


I’d have quit at this point except that I wisely anticipated all my future lazinesses.

I know that I hate leaving the house to go to work out, but I hate wasting money.  We’ve paid the personal trainer a ton of cash, and last-minute canceling means we lose that cash, so I’m incentivized to go.

But when my back aches and I don’t want to go in because I know it’ll be bodywork day, there’s Gini.  If it was just me, I’d skip it and say “fuck it.”  But I wisely signed Gini up to go with me at the same time, because if I don’t want to go I have to look my wife in the eye and tell her I’m so lazy that I’ll literally fling our money out the window.  And have my wife, in turn, look sad because she has to go to the trainer alone.

Or maybe she’d stay home with me and slack off.  In which case I’d be subverting my wife’s health, because in the wake of her own heart problems, we need to work out.

Gini wants to quit some days, but then she’d have to look me in the eye.  And for her, pleasing the trainer has become a part of her ritual – she needs external affirmation to function optimally – so knowing that she’d disappoint the trainer and worsen my health, she goes.

I’ve set this whole thing up so we’re hostages to each other.  It doesn’t make us happy, but it does get us there.

I wish I wasn’t so smart about my laziness.


Do I feel any different?  Not really.

I want to say that yes, I’m filled with vibrancy and pep, and that everyone notices how much more hale I look, but this is subtle stuff; it’s how I stand, how I walk, how I breathe.  When I jogged, every day I could say, “Hey, I did another quarter of a block” and then I’d jog everywhere and whoo, look how in shape I am.

This is a sweaty, cardio workout.  My heart pounds.  But it’s entirely core work. I joke that one day I’ll find a child trapped underneath a car and the only way I can shift the car is with my freshly-swole shoulderblade muscles, but that’s not happening.

I’m not out of breath much.  But I’m also not feeling like super athlete, either.  Which is, in a sense, good; this feels more like life instead of some weird aberration – The Summer I Could Jog For Five Kilometers.

But I do wish I could point to something a little more impressive for strangers.  As it is, asking people, Did you see me get off that couch? is asking a bit much of my guests.


We signed up for three months of personal training to see what effect it had upon our lives.

At this point, Gini and I are in firm agreement: Let’s try it for another three months.

If it’s a lifestyle, it’ll be an expensive one.  But as I’ve mused in the past: if we take all the cash we spent on going out to eat and spent it on getting healthy, would that be so bad?

It’s a process.  We’ll see how it goes.

3 Comments

  1. Harry Connolly
    Oct 19, 2017

    Excellent. Good luck to you

  2. Jim N.
    Oct 19, 2017

    Oh $Deity, I hope you aren’t looking at my posture as a “good” example. Standing up from a sitting position might be the only thing I do (slightly?) less badly than pre-trainer Ferrett.

  3. Jericka
    Oct 20, 2017

    My BF has the funds for a personal trainer and I am somewhat jealous. Being accountable to someone makes it easier to stay consistent and keep going.
    My sympathy to your wife. I was diagnosed celiac, so no tasty tasty wheat/rye/barley/spelt/farro for me. I’m glad I know how to cook because some things I can make at home.

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