Work, travel and the move took up a lot of my time, and I was unable to work out for quite a while. Signing up for a gym membership was one of the first things I did, and I’m slowly getting back into my routine. With signing up, I received two “free” training sessions. In reality – it was really one session where they “test” you and the second to teach you general things and put a program together. The problem is that I didn’t really need either of those, and in hindsight, I wish I just declined everything. There is a difference between someone who has had some sort of trainer since high school, and a person who has never stepped into a gym, or hasn’t worked out in a decade or two. If you’re of the latter, what they provide can be extremely useful. But apparently they don’t know how to deal with people who have experience around the gym.
So they did their “test”. Can I do a squat correctly, can I do a lunge correctly, can I touch my hands behind my back, can I stand up against the wall….. I apparently scored really high – only getting a point off for not being able to touch my hands behind my back with my left arm reaching over my shoulder. And this was something she hasn’t seen in a while…. <making an are you serious??? face..>
Then they went through a barrage of questions – and it was BEYOND evident at what they wanted you to say and what their gimmicky key words were… What are your goals? What would you like to change? What don’t you like about yourself? – I don’t have any set goals, because they are constantly changing, (whether I’m focusing on strength or a tough mudder… ect.) and I don’t want to change anything other than get back into my routine… So after basically telling them that I’m not fond of the questions they’re asking me, I bullshitted my way through the end. Then a day or two later it hit me and I got really mad at them. Initially I was excited to come back and get into my groove. I know my limitations when I’ve been out of the game, and I was OK with that. Instead I got really down on myself because of the type of questions they were repetitively asking, it was as if they were saying “you’re not good, you need help, you’re not at your best, you have a lot to improve on… but only we can make you good – you need us.”
Sad to say, I actually was so upset, that I AVOIDED the gym for a few days, when I all I wanted to do was work out! I was still within the first two weeks where I could cancel my membership without any penalty, and I wrote an email to my nosy sales rep explaining how I no longer felt that this gym was the right fit for me. But I didn’t hit send, because in the end I really liked the facility as it have everything I needed and what it had to offer beyond my needs. It was just the people and the staff that had to back off. My sales rep was even calling me every Thursday night, asking how I’m doing and recommending restaurants, which I thought was a little out of bounds.
I eventually made it to the gym and started my training (I decided to grab my notebook and start from the beginning of my Urban Mudder training). I was happy again – asides from the fact that I lost my training partner in crime, Nikole. I had my kettle bells, my TRX, and top of the line equipment. I took a Dance Jam class. I was happy.
Then it came time for the second “training” session. I thought I’d use this to learn a few more things on the TRX, since I did not need – or want – my “trainer” to come up with a work out routine. Supposedly you can use this hour for whatever you want to do. So she starts showing me crazy basic stuff…. I did one exercise thinking it was warm up… As she moved onto the next, I was like – is there something harder? Like I know the basics, but I wanted to learn new stuff that I could incorporate into my work out regiment. She basically told me that I essentially knew everything already. (I need to research this, but I have a very hard time believing that). She did recommend asking another trainer who works more with the TRX. So then it was like.. ok… what do we do? So we opted to just do weights and I started with dead lifts. She asked what I normally did, rep wise, ect.. and I told her.
So here’s the thing…. You have trainers… and you have trainers… You have the ones who get certified and work for a chain gym – and are told certain platforms. And that’s great. And then you have people who essentially have devoted their lives to how the body works and functions, and is always eager to stay up on new studies and looking outside the box to help their clients – if it suits them. I have been fortunate to train with the latter, and also have friends who I can ask for their insight. I have trained with the first type as well, and it was sufficient – but the gains you get from second type happen much quicker and efficiently.
So when I told this one trainer generally what I do, she kinda looked at me like I was a little crazy. I might go up in weight and lower on reps, as I do each set. But no. 10 is the magic number. So the next thing I know I somehow ended up doing an absurd amount of dead lifts – first time time doing dead lifts in 4 months. Yes, I was at a much lower weight of 135… but I easily completed 1.5x more reps than I normally do – on top of a “warm up” set. towards the end, she was like, I think this is a good weight for you, you’re starting to loose your form… and I was like, no shit Sherlock…. you had me do 5 sets of dead lifts, my back is tired…. I know you’re wondering how that happened… a lot of my frustration towards this place came back during this session and I should have been paying more attention than I was…
So the verdict from this trainer, was that I should become an Olympic weight lifter and that was my inner calling, and I should not rotate my program like I do and just lift heavy. I got mad at the end of this session too.. this time more at myself because I let it happen. I am NOT a trainer. I am NOT certified. But I do know my own body, and I had a feeling that I would be in a world of hurt.
The rest of the day I was fine, but the days that followed, the pain and the tightness was debilitating. I could not sit on my couch and lean forward. I could only walk as a brisk pace. It hurt so bad when I stretched forward that I thought If I attempted to stretch this out, I would just snap something. For a week I could do nothing. After 7 days, if I bent forward, I was able to reach my hands halfway down my shins – and this was an IMPROVEMENT. Once it felt like normal soreness wearing off, I went back to the gym. Doing stuff on my own terms.
No more trainers from the gym. No more sales people hounding me (although they might if they see me passing by). I know the friendly, family vibe feeling they want to extend to it’s members. But sometimes it’s overbearing and intrusive. If you’re new to working out, or feel like you’re at a beginner stage and needs a road map to navigate your way around, or you want to utilize them for their great group classes (and they are great! I like to incorporate them in on certain days) – it can be a wonderful place! But if you are pretty self sufficient, you might want to smack a few people around in the beginning. It’s starting to calm down, and I’m able to actually enjoy the facility – hopefully it stays this way! But if you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t make the same mistake I did, and stick to your guns!