Most of the time, when I make choices, it’s because I think they’ll make my life better. Better is a broad umbrella that could include financial gain, inner peace, romantic potential, fun, or any number of other categories. Usually I make decisions in my own best interest. But other times I just do things for the story. This is one such story.
Two weeks ago, I walked into my gym (which I call the Planet of Fitness because then I can pretend that the workout apparatus is from outer space!). The manager pulled me aside and mentioned that they were offering a free half-hour personal training session to some members. He asked if I would be interested in scheduling a session. Somehow, I can never turn down a chance to make a situation uncomfortable for myself. “Sure!” I replied. Great, said the manager. He went off to find a trainer.
Now, when I envisioned my trainer, I pictured a muscular dude who was going to be disappointed that I’m not as strong as a real man. But boy was I wrong. It was a super-cute lady who was going to be disappointed that I wasn’t as strong as a real man. Perfect. We scheduled a session for the upcoming Saturday, and I went to do my normal lackluster workout. I should mention, that there are times when I spend so little time at the gym it is literally like a placebo workout that I do to convince my brain that it’s okay to have french fries.
Saturday, I returned to the gym to meet up with the trainer. For funs, let’s call her “Gertrude,” to protect her real identity. We had to do an entrance interview. She looked relieved that I didn’t have any medical conditions that might make me die during a half-hour workout. Like, a little too relieved. I was minor-league offended! The rest of the interview contained honest exchanges like this…
Gertrude: What are your fitness goals?
Josh/Me: I just want to be able to eat pie whenever I want without shapeshifting.
Gertrude: What is the best physical shape you’ve ever been in?
Josh/Me: Unfortunately, you’re looking at it. This is where I’ve topped out.
She put me on the treadmill. Well, I got on the treadmill at her suggestion. She didn’t lift me up and put me there. That would have been deal-breakingly emasculating. I did a five minute walk and chatted with Gertrude. I am in decent shape, but I’m not super motivated. I think she got the picture when she said: “We’re not allowed to make a client run during the first session,” and I replied, “Nice!”
Then we went over to a weight bench and did some low-resistance exercises. I don’t think she mentioned my overall lack of strength, but she did frequently comment on my poor posture. At that point, I figured I could have used a more personable personal trainer. One that would just go: “Looking great, bro! Let’s get a burrito!” She kept reminding me to “engage my core.” And I wanted to tell her, in my core…I want to be in bed. She had me get into the “plank” position, which is like a pushup, but on your forearms. I held the position until my arms began to tremble. “You’re shaking. That’s good,” she assured me. “Is the crying also a positive omen?” I quipped.
The whole thing was kind of strenuous, but in a good way. I feel like I understand how to do some things better now. Gertrude gave some really good pointers. At the end, though, we reached a point of critical awkwardness. “How was that for you?” she asked. “Oh, great,” I responded. “Great,” she said. “How do you feel about going forward with me as your trainer?”
Oh. She got attached. And now, I had to break up with my trainer. After one session. Clingy, am I right?
“Listen,” I fumbled. “That was really good and helpful, but I don’t think I’m looking for anything long-term right now. I’m really looking to achieve my fitness goals on my own and get to know my own limits. You were great, though. Like, super great.” And then I said, in real life: “It’s not you; it’s me.” What? Why? Should I have bought her brunch? So many questions! And I couldn’t avoid her after. We go to the same gym.
She outlined the training regimen she would recommend if I changed my mind, and I thanked her. Then, she really put it out there: “Hey. We do these one-off sessions. No commitment. So if you come in and see me around, let me know. The rates are very reasonable.” Uhh, did she just offer to be a personal trainer with benefits? Or whatever that relationship would be.
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I’ll totally do that.”
But I think we both know I won’t.