Two weeks ago, I joined a gym.
It’s a new gym in town, and they had a special: one year for $100. I toured the facility and liked the low-key feel to the place, not to mention the women’s-only workout room, and figured $100 for an entire year was completely reasonable.
I’ve belonged to gyms before, and I’ve even gone to those gyms fairly regularly, you know, until fairly regularly turns into occasionally and occasionally turns into once every six weeks and then I just cancel the membership out of sheer embarrassment.
As is the case with most gyms, this one offered a free personal training consult. Usually I would turn those down, as I’m convinced that personal training is just a boondoggle designed to swindle money from desperate people. But the head personal trainer at this new gym is a former student, so I accepted the free session, in the name of “lifelong learner” and “always a teacher” and “helping my students in perpetuity.”
He took me through a series of exercises and then back to his desk for the hard sell. Initially, I had set my mind to not make any commitments until I came back from Japan. But he “made a call” and “got me a great deal” (I’m not an idiot–I know these types of tactics are for the sole purpose of people who, like me, are clearly on the fence about a product. Business world 1, Julie 0).
He assigned me a trainer (I’ll call him Sam) who he was sure would be wonderful for me, set up my first official appointment for two days later, and sent me on my way. After taking all of my money, that is.
I’m not going to go through the specifics of that first appointment, other than to say three things:
1. For the first time in my life, I did regular pushups, kind of. I only went 1/4 of the way down, but they were “toe” pushups like regular people do. Not the pansy push-ups I’ve been doing my whole life.
2. I worked with 5 lb kettlebells and didn’t die immediately. In the past, I’ve stuck with 3 lb weights.
3. After the circuit was over, I almost passed out.
Yes, after Sam put me through various exercises–which I completed in full and didn’t feel extraordinarily ill whilst doing them–we walked over to the treadmills and that is when I started seeing spots.
I climbed on a treadmill, told Sam I was seeing spots, and he told me to just stand and breathe. He asked me to get a read on my heart rate, using the, I’m sure, totally accurate heart rate monitor on the treadmill.
It read my heart rate at 108, but at this point, I couldn’t catch my breath and I had lost vision out of my right eye. NO VISION IN MY RIGHT EYE. Ever experience partial blindness? It’s terrifying. And there’s no way my heart rate was only 108. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have taken my pulse and calculated my heart rate the old-fashioned way. (I just did that. 80 beats per minute, and I’ve been on the couch for two hours, asleep for one of those hours).
When Sam realized cardio was not happening, he walked me over to a chair and told me to drink and breathe, and asked me if I ate before coming to the gym.
“I had greek yogurt with some muesli,” I said. “Is that not enough?”
“Probably not,” he said.
After close to 5 minutes, my vision returned and he sent me on my way with instructions to complete the same circuit we had just done, three times a week, and we would reassess at our next appointment.
I drove home feeling an embarrassment I’ve not felt in a very long time, and half-convinced myself to quit. After all, the contract I signed said I have until Monday to rescind my agreement to services.
But I talked to my friend Nikki and I talked to my sister Deanne (who is a personal trainer) and the two of them seemed to think that my near-fainting was not that big of a deal and I shouldn’t give up.
And then I thought, if I actually am tied into this for a year (which I am, which is proof personal trainers are a bit of a boondoggle), I might as well mine it for writing material. And maybe if I approach each session as fodder for the blog, I will be more relaxed, able to find humor in my vast physical weakness.
Plus, there’s always the possibility that by this time next year, I’ll be able to do at least one full real-person pushup.
At least I have a goal.