I chugged my redbull and squeezed the can with my hand, lazily tossing it into the garbage can outside the gym. I was arriving to meet with my trainer for the first time. When I got in, we said a quick hello and he lead me into a back office. I evaluated him from my chair across the desk from him. He asked me questions about my fitness goals and current routines. I kept thinking about how young he was. I wondered what someone with such limited experience could possibly teach me. I was also nervous as hell. Anxiety-ridden, exhausted from a long day of work, going through a horrific breakup, and that redbull I just crushed was not helping me.
He checked my heart rate. It was apparently not good. He said “I don’t know if we can start today”. “You don’t understand, this is why I am here today. I’m just going through a rough time and I need to do this”, I said shaking. He took the bait. Our first workout together was nothing mind-blowingly phenomenal, but I gathered that he would be able to teach me some things that were simply going to take me further than I could go on my own at this point. At the end, we sat on the mats stretching out. He asked if I wanted to move forward in training with him. My response was to ask him he if wanted to train me. “I’m emotional”, I warned “and some days I’m going to come in here going crazy and you are going to have to deal with that”. With cool confidence he assured me he could handle it.
What I didn’t know is that he didn’t actually mean he could handle it. What he meant was that he wasn’t going to take it. There were countless sessions to come where I would show up all emotional, and my trainer would simply say that he didn’t want to hear it, and that I was there to work. For some of you, this might sound cruel. For me, it was a technique that worked. It changed the way I worked out in the gym. It forced me to live in a different place in my mind during my workouts. It made me realize that no matter what craziness I had going on in my life, that the gym could be a place of solace.
I actually noticed quickly that our personalities were opposite, but complimentary. I was a whiner, complainer, excuse maker. But my trainer never let me say “I can’t”. He taught me that I needed to give up a certain amount of control in my life and I had to accept that. I couldn’t change other people or have control over every situation, but I have control over myself. Because I realized that I have control over myself, I was able to do things I never thought I physically or mentally could before.
He surprised me because for a young guy, because he really had a great knowledge-base, enthusiasm, and passion for what he was doing. He didn’t just tell me what to do, he told me why I was doing it. He pushed me hard in the gym and the results showed. He held me accountable for what I said I would do, but always gave me the credit for the work I did. I’m not saying he was perfect and never pissed me off. I’m not saying that he didn’t work me out so hard that I cried. I’m saying that he helped me get results. Those results gave me confidence; I realized that if I really set my mind to something and worked hard, I could make it real.
When my training ended it was so anticlimactic. I was expecting some big, monumental, life-changing workout followed by a screen shot of that one single tear dropping from my eye as I left the gym. But it was just like any other ordinary workout. This is, of course, because that was only just the beginning. Over the next couple months my own passion and enthusiasm would send me on a journey of pursuing new skills and knowledge that would allow me to take my fitness routine to the next level.
One of my big goals in training was to be able to do pull-ups. I was naive when I started; I didn’t realize how much was going to be involved in making this happen. So, this wasn’t something I was able to accomplish during my training. But just because that phase was over didn’t mean I was going to quit; I kept working on it. A couple of months later, my trainer saw me at the pull-up bar. I saw him at a distance, and with a smile on my face I jumped and made six pull-ups look easy. He came over and congratulated me on my success, and I said “you don’t know how hard I’ve worked for this” ; his response was “yes I do”. Well, I guess he was right.
I would recommend training to any gym newbie if it is a financial possibility. I learned a lot, not only about working out but also about myself. It was a huge confidence boost and now I don’t think twice about joining the big boys on the heavy end of the dumbells. I really lucked out because I had a trainer who I was able to level with; someone who I wasn’t afraid to fail and fall in front of. So if you are going to find a trainer, find one that is complimentary to you who will make it their purpose to pull you out of your comfort zone and make you WORK. It was an investment I won’t ever regret.
My before and after training comparison.