After the cookies…


I took today off work to prepare for the upcoming Christmas bacchanalia. Actually, the festivities at my house are rather small, so the preparations aren’t all that overwhelming. I also foolishly made my bi-annual mammogram appointment for later this afternoon. Not sure what I was thinking there (“Hey, I have a great idea! I’ll take some time from the busiest afternoon of my year to stop, relax, and savor the season by getting my boobs painfully squeezed to the thickness of a tortilla! Ho ho ho!”)

But in any case, I thought I’d jump forward here a week or two….let’s skip past the excesses of Christmas and New Year’s. Imagine yourself in a couple of weeks. Chances are, you feel fat and unhealthy and you’ve gained 5 or 10 pounds over the last few months. I have a two-word recommendation for you: personal trainer. Yes, I have a personal trainer. I feel pretentious even saying that. But hiring a trainer is probably the simplest yet most life-changing move I’ve ever made.

I’m one of the most un-athletic people I know…never played any sports or anything like that. The only reason I hired a trainer is that I wanted to start using kettlebells, and it seemed wise to consult a pro before picking up and swinging around what’s essentially a 25- or 35-pound cannonball, especially having had some back problems in the past. I found my trainer here. We’ve met once a week since last May, and in those seven months, my strength, agility and confidence have increased beyond what I would’ve ever thought possible.

A good trainer will assess your current level (or lack) of fitness, and help you to increase it in a way that’s both safe and workable for you. He’ll encourage you and gently push you to physical feats that, trust me, you’ll never, ever force yourself to try, let alone accomplish. He’ll fine-tune and tailor both exercise and nutrition plans to get the results you want.

I recently had to take a 6-week break from training due to a pinched nerve that pretty much incapacitated my left arm and shoulder. By the end of the six weeks, I had pretty much talked myself into letting my trainer go, thinking: 1. I could save the money; 2. do it myself; and 3. best of all, skip the grueling, weekly, hour-long sessions that I dreaded because of the physical work, even though they left me sweating and feeling great afterwards. Instead of going my own way, I decided to keep the trainer but intensify my efforts, so that maybe I could advance my level of fitness to the point where I wouldn’t dread sweating hard for an hour. So now I meet with Russ twice weekly for 30 minutes…and much to my delight, it’s working out great! Our 30-minute sessions are much less of a mental mountain for me than working hard for an hour was…my new mantra is, “I can do anything for 30 minutes!” And for some reason, having two workouts a week scheduled with a trainer makes working out on my own, between-times, much easier…so I find that, overall, I’m easily getting in four workouts a week, where before it was a struggle to accomplish two or three.

Is it expensive? Yes, it is. Is it worth it–to be in better shape, and look and feel better, than I did 20 years ago? It’s the biggest bargain of my life. Go for it! At worst, you’ll spend a little money and get some exercise. At best, you’ll open the door to a fantastic part of your life, and a level of fitness, that you don’t even suspect is possible right now. What are you waiting for?


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