They say that pride goeth before the fall… But I tend to think that in my case, it’s always the pretty man who pushes me over the edge. I know this. But being a girl, I am a sucker for pretty things. Shoes. Flowers. Men.
Before I go any further, please note that I use “pretty” in a way that men would take less offense to if they truly understood how I meant the word. [It means I find you aesthetically pleasing. It’s a compliment, so disengage your ingrained reaction and just take it, eh?]
I changed gyms recently. My previous gym had become prohibitively expensive, and I am also commitment-phobic. In the support of the latter, The New Place offers me the sense of freedom in its simple rules (No outside shoes. Respect the equipment and your fellow workout devotee.) and promise of 24 hour access. “Work out whenever you like, we won’t try to restrict you to a schedule,” it says to me. The $20 less I spend a month, in trade for bringing my own towel and not feeling bad about missing a Spinning class, doesn’t hurt either.
In recognition of my New Member status, they set me up with a personal trainer for a free session. I meet him on my first night. Pretty. In the standard way of personal trainers. But why not? He is literally the proof of his own skill. A walking embodiment of what he can do if you let him work for you. With you. And charming. Also, in the standard way of personal trainers. Equal parts slick salesman, psychologist, and encouraging coach. We agree to a meeting this week.
So this week, I show up, warm-up, and await the torture.
It starts innocuously enough. A conversation. What’s my background? My goals? Am I the type of girl who’s leery of the weights and the manly attention that may come with drifting over to that side of the gym? [What do you think? 😀 ]. Have I worked out with a trainer before? He susses out what kind of encouragement I need as we talk. That’s what this banter is for – to gauge if I will need my hand held or I’m the type who like’s to be pushed. It’s not unlike a date. Reading between the lines is key to success. I warn him that I’m coming off a long period of minimal activity. I hate push-ups because they are my weakness, so I make myself grind out the 20 or so my body can handle. “I am out of shape, and need to kick-start myself back into working out regularly,” I say.
So we begin. Dive right in actually, with a kettle-ball lift and jerk combo that immediately makes me wonder what’s going to hurt the worst after this is over. We move swiftly through things with medicine balls, and pelvic thrusts, and roll-ups. “Great. Give me 10 more.” Interspersed are things like mountain-climbers and jumping jacks on and off a step, designed to bring a cardio element to the workout. “How’s the heart-rate?,” he asks. It’s a wonder that my heart is not literally pounding OUT of my chest.
A small portion of my brain not given over to Survival remembers the story my brother will tell of taking his physical exam when applying to the fire department. They take your vitals at the end, and evidently his were much more stressed than his calm demeanor indicated, to their surprise. Perhaps it’s a family thing? Does this guy think I’m tougher than I am?
“Grab some water, if it will help,” he says as we move swiftly into the free weights area. There’s a lateral lift/burpee combo that he demonstrates effortlessly while I think there’s no way I could do that if I weren’t half dead… Moving gracefully is not one of my hallmark traits, shall we say? I fumble my way through, and we move on to suspended push-ups. My arms are burning, and my muscles have actively stopped responding to my brain’s attempt to order them. From there we go to split squats off a bench. Is that my quads actually whimpering, or is that coming directly from my mouth?
“How are you doing? How are those legs feeling?,” he asks. Without a trace of irony. Or an indication that it appears to him I’m working at this.
And truthfully, I have done everything he’s asked of me. I know I will be in pain. Things are shaking and burning and locking up, and I know – from distant workouts in the far past – that this is only the precursor to the pain I will feel. But even so, I find myself unable to say “Can we take it down a notch?”
He’s pretty. I’m proud. It’s a lethal combination.
We finish up, and he starts to talking about my options. I listen as he starts to sounds like he’s speaking through a tunnel. I know this feeling. So I sit. Immediately. Surreptitiously put my head nearer to my knees. Relax a bit when the panic that I might actually pass out starts to fade as my hearing returns to normal.
Fast forward two days, and my legs still don’t seem to bend in the normal way. I cannot tell if that’s things aren’t extending fully, or just that the muscles are so sore than they can’t take the full pressure of the extension. I navigate the stairs to the basement to do a load of laundry with a side-ways and slow old-man type shuffle. The pain is an excruciating burn that has actually gotten worse on the second day. I want to blame the pretty man. Maybe he did nudge me off the ledge. But I’m pretty sure it was my pride that was measuring the drop.