Thursday, January 20, 2011

Training Day

I joined a gym this month. I've thought getting a membership since I moved up here, but I have this thing against monthly payments. Something about that automatic-debit gives me the heebie-jeebies. I also recently joined Netflix, despite it's auto-debit system. It's been a big year, so far. Big steps.

Anyway, with this membership came two free sessions with a personal trainer if used within the first thirty days or whatever. Sounds like a good idea, right? A free thing? Give me that.

So last week I met with my trainer who we'll call Cathy. Cathy is a short, slender (but not skinny), powerful woman. She is toned, has a thousand-watt smile, a tan in the Northeast in mid-January (take from that what you will...), long dark hair, and a raspy voice that reminds me of Phoebe's voice in friends in the episode where she has a cold and tries to sing on stage and use it for her "sexy" voice. The joke here, for those of you who haven't seen the episode, is that Phoebe's voice doesn't sound sexy so much as it sounds like she has a perpetual smoker's cough/rasp...

Our first session is supposed to be half assessment, half workout. Two minutes into the assessment, I realize I do not like this woman. Looking back, I'm not even sure I can put my finger on what first triggered it. Maybe it was that when she asked where I lived in Manhattan and I told her Chinatown she casually mentioned that her soon-to-be ex-husband owned a certain restaurant in the Lower East Side, and because that certain restaurant happened to be where a recent ex had taken me on a first date, I immediately associated her with a vortex of negative things.

If that's the case, then I'm not being fair and she obviously never had a chance with me. But hear me out--whatever it was in the beginning that triggered the vague uneasiness, my suspicions of awful things to come were entirely gratified when I stepped on the scale. 

Let me preface this next part by saying this: I am not fat. 

I have never been fat. No one has ever called me fat before. I do not consider myself a fat, nor even a chubby, person. Not that there is anything wrong with being either of those things. Just sayin', those are things that I am not.

Did I join a gym to lose weight? Yes. What woman in America doesn't want to lose weight? That's Cosmo's fault. Everyone knows that. I won't even lie to you and say it was "to be healthier," or "more fit," or "more flexible," or anything else that unconvincing and entirely hollow. No. I joined to lose weight and to look better.

But does that mean I feel like now I look like some completely undesirable monster? Well, apparently that's what I should think according to Cathy.

I hopped on the scale. When it leveled out, she asked, "Is that the number you were expecting?"

"Yes," I answered truthfully.


"I weigh myself every day."

"So you're not at all surprised to see that number on the scale?" the bitch asked a third time. 

I turned to her. I think I was sort of in shock, really. I can't remember ever having been so subtly and entirely insulted before. 

"No. No, I'm not surprised. I weigh myself every day," I repeated. 

"Hm." Cathy responded and hopped into her little chair while she crunched the numbers and determined that I, just as she suspected, was "upper-average" in weight. The situation was dire. She really wanted to have me at at least average. Time to hit the mats for some emergency strength training, STAT.

 What followed was a forty-five minute workout where I performed lunges, push-ups, squats, sit-ups, etc. while Cathy offered words of advice and encouragement like:

"You're twenty-three years old. This shouldn't be that hard for you."

"How does it make you feel that you're really having a tough time with this right now?"

"Butt out, chest up, legs wide--too wide, no, now you've got them too close. Look."

"See how you're standing in the mirror? Pull your shoulders back. You'll look like you've lost five pounds."

By the time we were finished, my body, but mostly my ego, had taken a HUGE beating.

She shook my hand and promised to reschedule for next week. "Be prepared to be sore tomorrow," she said, grinning. "Drink lots of water. Some people call me from home crying--they can't walk up the stairs."

To answer any questions about how I felt the next few days, yes I was sore, but no, I did not have any trouble climbing up stairs (thank you very much!).

Continuing with my story, we scheduled our next meeting for last Tuesday. Unfortunately, (and not on purpose I swear!) I forgot my workout gear that day. So we rescheduled for today, Thursday. Well, sometime between Tuesday morning and Tuesday night, I became deathly ill with a really bad cold. I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday popping cough drops and then all night Tuesday and Wednesday night sleeping it off in a cough-syrup induced coma. I averaged about 12 hours of sleep those nights.

Today, I felt much better. So well in fact, that, not wanting to give Ms. Cathy the satisfaction of canceling our workout twice, I decided I'd go through with our next training session despite not being 100%.


Cathy greeted me and then asked how many times I'd been back to the gym since our last workout.

I admitted that I had not, in fact, been back at all. I'd been pretty sore and then gotten sick, but was feeling better.

"You haven't been back at all?"

"Nope." Apparently exercise accelerates hearing loss.

"Ok, well... let's walk this way," she led me to the mats where we warmed up for a few minutes. Then she handed me some weights for squats. It became clear halfway through my second set that I wasn't going to make it.

"What? What is it? Do you need to sit down?"

Yes. Yes I needed to sit down. Immediately. And I did. I could feel the color draining from my face. My ears felt like they were swimming away from my head, it was that woozy sort of feeling. Probably had something to do with my cold. As I was explaining this, Cathy became a bit annoyed,

"Why didn't you tell me you were sick? You could have canceled." I had told her before and she'd ignored it, but that didn't matter.

"I didn't want you to think I was faking," I answered truthfully, although now I'm not sure why I didn't lie and say something more socially acceptable. Must have been the dizziness affecting rational thought.

"What, are you an adult?" she asked in a voice that clearly suggested that I probably wasn't. And that's when I nearly lost it.

 The thing is, I don't feel like one most of the time. But I know I am. My rent check says that I am and my pay check and my grocery lists and all of those things point to: adult in the room.

Still, though, I have a student's complex about emailing in "sick." It will probably always ring fake to me to do that, and I expect for it to ring fake to other people as well.

I did not have a freak-out at Cathy. Instead, I pocketed her question for a moment of introspection and reflection later on and said the lie I should have gone with in the first place, "I really thought I was better. Sorry, guess I'm still sicker than I thought."

She told me it was OK. That being sick really throws off your equilibrium, and once she'd had to quit a workout because she was sick, but she was also "working with some pretty heavy weights at a really high intensity." Bitch.

Long story short, we're rescheduling for a half-session some time next week. I've decided it's probably for the best to just go and accept my fate passively in an effort to maintain the ability to noncommittally wave "hi" to her when I pass her on future, solo gym visits. I feel like things might get awkward in that department if I totally go off on her, and I have signed a year-contract, so...


Snarky, passive-aggressive one-liner suggestions for the next session?

All would be more than appreciated in the comments below.

Also, I realized the irony of the above post juxtaposed with what I'm about to say, but I wrote a couple of health quizzes for Lifetime Television's website, 

You can take them here and here if you haven't already! And revel in the realization that if you don't pass them, hey, it's OK, because they were written by the fattest of fatties and, in light of that fact, you probably should just do the opposite of whatever the results are, anyway.


  1. Bring her some ex-lax homemade protein energy bars. That'll show her.

  2. I have had this exact experience... Your posts always warm my heart. My trainer went on to say it is more diet than exercise. "His" clients will never lose the wait they want b/c they wont give up meat and live off raw foods. The worst part NO BOOZE. The hatred had built up when he stopped half way through my assessment and said "let's just leave it as we are unhappy with the way we look and move on." In the end I am stronger, more flexible and have a lower blood pressure than any girl he had ever worked with. I looked at his tinny head and under feed body and thought why does everyone want me to become unhealthy to be healthy? The poor man lives in women's v-necks on uncooked beans and works in an average gym in uptown Dallas. Good Luck Sir.