As a Passport Card-carrying member of New York Sports Club, I will proudly say that exercise is the most important meal of the day. Switching over from the Boston Sports Club at the beginning of this month, I was excited about the bevy of classes and fitness advantages I would be getting as a member, including the free fitness evaluation I was offered when I signed up. “Do you want an ass-kicker, or someone who’s going to baby you?” the manager asked as he filled out my profile form. “Oh, an ass-kicker,” I responded, so confident, so cool. Kelly, stick to what you know. You are neither of these things. And, as always, be careful what you wish for.
I approached my evaluation with some trepidation. I was nervous that the trainer would ask me to do something really hard and I’d fail miserably, never to work out again for the rest of my life. I don’t know where that was coming from, since I’ve been working out my whole life, but I know I’m not the world’s greatest athlete, and there are things I don’t do as well as others. I blame my parents for having very low muscle mass. I’m not saying they’re not in shape, because they very much are, but all three of us are just really, really white.
So we started the evaluation with some step aerobics, which I actually didn’t think existed anymore. Because I thought it was a fad. Like the leotards and scrunch socks everyone wore when they were doing said aerobics. We did this for three minutes. I’m not gonna lie to you guys – I was winded. But the trainer also made me talk the whole way through. Just so we’re clear, I’m not an exercise talker. I do not enjoy this.
Then we did push-ups. And I tried to be frank with this trainer. I have scrawny arms. It’s just this weird body shape I have going on where I have absolutely no weight through my arms and chest, but you practically see the things I eat on my stomach and thighs. As far as I know, I’m the only person in the world with this body type. I don’t mind not having boobs (I actually prefer it) but I would rather not have the stomach of a man who’s had quadruple bypass surgery. Or the legs of this guy.
Not to gloat, but I killed the jumping-jacks portion of this exercise. And my squats were perfection. My lunges were ok. My upper-body pull-ups weren’t ugly. But then we got to core strength and all hell broke loose.
First of all, planks are not easy. I can’t even do them in yoga class (but I can Warrior Two like nobody’s business). So telling me to hold a solid plank position for a minute is like telling me to birth a child without an epidural (I’m assuming). On top of this, I was told to lay on my back for a minute with my legs raised at a 45-degree angle. Impossible! I was fairly certain waterboarding was going to be the next suggested activity.
So when I just about felt like I was going to collapse into a pile of disappointment, we went on to stretching. Oh, the stretching. I don’t know what the pain I was feeling throughout my body was making my face look like, but even my trainer, who had known me all of 30 minutes, advised me it was not attractive. “You’re very tense. Everywhere.” he told me. “Yup,” was all I could muster. I mean, my tendons were one fire, and I don’t even know where the majority of my tendons are.
So before I started to literally break down in tears, we went back into the trainer’s office to “talk about how it went.” Like we really needed to discuss it further. I’m a smart girl. I know it went poorly. I’m not held to any kind of extreme ego. I’ll admit defeat when it’s handed to me. But still, we had to talk about it. And this is how it went. Note: Inner monologue denoted by italics.
Trainer: So I noticed you carry most of your weight in your lower half.
Me: Fact. How very J.Lo of me.
Trainer: So you need to lose weight.
Me: Correct. But you just said I look like J.Lo. I don’t enjoy your mixed messages.
Trainer: Your crunches were excellent…
Me: Obviously. Yup, said that out loud.
Trainer: …but you failed the plank test miserably.
Me: I am so complex, both mentally and physically.
Trainer: So there are lots of things you weren’t able to do…
Me: That’s because you didn’t ask me to Zumba. I rock that shit hard.
Trainer: …and I recommend that you work out every day for the rest of your life.
So I know the trainer is trying to win me over. He’s possibly trying to make it seem worse than it is so I’d purchase $1,000 worth of training sessions and listen to him belittle my worth twice a week for the next three months. But I ate it all up (advice is low carb). I was totally sucked into the world of gym memberships, and having a personal trainer and “everybody’s doing it” and “taking care of you is the most important thing.” Because it is.
But it took me the entire hour of my train ride home to realize, shit, I don’t have $1,000 to spend on sweating. I can’t even afford to pay rent for my own place. I’m taking an hour train ride home because I live an hour and 30 minutes away from work. Because I can’t afford anything closer. How the hell am I going to pay for training sessions? Don’t we have ExerciseTV? Can’t I just do that for the rest of my life? And who has time to go to the gym five days a week for the rest of their life? I don’t now. I won’t when I have a husband and children certainly. This is all just a little too much for me to do.
And then five seconds later, after I watched my entire exercise plan unravel inside my head, I realized that I really do need to get back at it. And I can motivate myself to do it. And I will. And just a word of advice for all you trainers out there: Don’t waste your time on people with an hour-plus commute home. They will definitely talk themselves out of whatever it is you’re hawking.