I Failed “Standing”: Adventures In Personal Training

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So for my birthday, I got myself an expensive gift I didn’t want:

A personal trainer.

I don’t want a personal trainer because I hate exercise and I hate going someplace else to exercise and I hate paying money to have strangers judge my body.  But I also recognize that my fitness has never been great, and perhaps I don’t know how to push myself properly (which is a real concern when you have both heart problems and a proven inability to recognize fatal pain), and so I signed up for a couple of months with a personal trainer as an experiment.  Just to see whether it would make a difference.

And this trainer seemed nice.  She told me she was not the ooh-rah trainer who says you’re not done until you’re barfing. She was a physical therapist who’d dealt with heart patients before, and could make long-term changes conducive to my benefit.

So as I went to the trainer yesterday, I was nervous.  I’m not a weightlifter.  Would she have me doing laps around the gym?  Would it be the medicine ball?  Would I be completely useless after the session, my every muscle quivering?

As it turned out, my job was to stand there while they critiqued.

I failed at standing.

“See how his hip is turned out?” she asked her fellow trainer, who was called in for a consultation.  “All his weight is on his left foot.”

“Dangerous to let a man like that exercise,” the other trainer agreed, and I was shuttled off to a massage room where she jammed the inside of my hip, telling me to relax as she rammed stiff fingers dangerously close to my crotch, reminding me to breathe.

“You’re very shielded,” she said, wrenching me aside.  “I can’t get this muscle to release.”  And then, five minutes later: “That’ll do.”

She didn’t get it to release, but apparently she’d given up on me.

Then she had me breathe.

I failed breathing.

Apparently, there’s a way you breathe from your diaphragm in a way that makes your crotch tighten, and if that sounds sexy I assure you it was not.  All my breath was in, apparently, my chest.  It’s supposed to be in my diaphragm, which is to say my belly, and I did that wrong.  She had me on my knees, palm on my stomach, urging me to do something with my belly button to bring it against my spine, and eventually she sighed and called out, “We’re putting him on his back.  He can’t do the APT.”

Even on my back, I didn’t breathe properly.  She said, encouragingly, that I’d learn, but it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’ve just failed standing and breathing. I’m not sure what else there is to fail, but I’m sure I’ll find out.

So I have a sheet of exercises.  When I head towards the bathroom, I am instructed to take a moment in the hall to twist my leg and loosen the hip, or to stand with my back against the wall and press out.  My hip aches from where she pressed hard enough to bruise it.

I thought personal training would be gruelling – and to be fair, I was sweaty and tired at the end of it.  And I’m sure it’ll ramp up over time.

I just thought it would be more “You’re too weak to lift this weight” and less “You’re too incompetent to breathe,” you know?




  1. Kelly Ness
    Aug 10, 2017

    Most American adults breathe wrong so don’t be too upset. Also, the leg thing isn’t so much a failure as a problem that could cause serious injury if it’s not adressed now. Be thankful your trainer is paying close enough to help you with these things first.

  2. Zelda
    Aug 10, 2017

    I’m with Kelly – the fact she picked this up is great, as it means you will have a better baseline to start with. The breathing thing is common – as a drama teacher the number of times I see people NOT breathing from the diagphram is scary. Inter costal diaphragmatic breathing is the accepted proper way in my training.

    The way I used to explain it to students was…
    1. Stand up straight.
    2. Push your shoulders down towards the floor.
    3. Breathe in. As you breathe in keep your shoulders down and ribs in.
    4. Feel your belly come out.
    5. After you belly comes out, let your ribs come out.
    6. As you breathe out, ribs in first, then belly in.

    Hips are shits – mine hate me, and have for years. But good on you for actually trying something different.

  3. Dawn
    Aug 15, 2017

    I was coming here to say what Kelly and Zelda already have. One added note: thanks to a car accident over 20 years ago, my left hip still sometimes hikes up. My trainer/s have learned that about me and they help me keep it level, which is saving me all sorts of pain.

    And yes, breathing properly *is* hard. Over 25 years after my first Yoga sessions and I still forget all to frequently.

    Thank you for doing this for yourself!

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