Flying Solo

When I joined the gym two years ago, I paid extra for weekly sessions with a trainer for two reasons. First, having not set foot in a gym since high school, I needed someone to show me what to do. Second, the extra cost kept me going. I’m way too cheap to let my pricey membership go to waste.

After watching several seasons of The Biggest Loser, I was nervous about working with a trainer. Getting up in my face a la Jillian Michaels is counterproductive. I’ll pout and go all passive-aggressive on your ass.

Based on my experience, trainers are much less confrontational than what you might expect. Outside of the military and reality television, they have to be nice if they don’t want to get fired. They’re also a lot less personal. I’ve yet to have an emotional breakthrough with a trainer, or even a tearful moment — and television commercials make me cry.

Trainers at gyms like the one where I’m a member are teachers more than trainers. The clients they serve are overwhelmingly newcomers to the gym — overdressed, overweight, and over forty. Well-built, fit people at my gym don’t have trainers — or at least, not one hired by the gym.

In the last two years I’ve worked with three different trainers — two guys and a woman. Each had strengths and weaknesses. All three gave me what I needed, but the first is my favorite. We worked together the longest — more than a year. Quiet, yet personable — he’s a very nice guy with my idea of the perfect body. I was sad to see him move on.

Number two was a shy little guy with an amazing body and an endearing giggle who quickly moved on to something else. Instead of waiting for the gym to assign me to a trainer, I asked a Zumba instructor who’s also a trainer if she’d work with me. She’s hands-down the best teacher of the three. Like I said, each gave me what I needed at the time to move me to the next level.

The majority of my training sessions revolved around learning new exercises — especially in the first year or so. My time with the trainers evolved to focus on neglected body parts — legs usually, but core about as often. After I started the scripted workout from, I did yoga and stretching exercises with the trainer.

I don’t need a trainer anymore. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. When I renewed my membership in September, I didn’t include any training sessions. I know my way around the gym now, and has enough routines to keep me busy for years to come.

Maybe I’ll do fine on my own, maybe I won’t. We’ll see what happens. If I fall back too much, I can always add training sessions to my membership. There are also some trainer-led classes like crossfit, TRX, and fight club I could pick up.

Quitting is not an option. Exercise makes me feel better — mentally, physically, and emotionally. Besides, I have a goal to be Speedo-ready for the authors conference Dreamspinner Press is hosting in Florida next year on my birthday. I’ll give new meaning to hanging out around the pool, or I’m not…

The Crotchety Old Man