Smiling trainer provides drive, muscle aches

Sunday, March 27, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:58 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 14, 2008

For as long as I can remember, I have been in a battle with my weight. And although I’ve won a few skirmishes, I’ve never won the war. For the last decade it’s been a standoff. A few weeks ago I started my “now or never” makeover. First the braces (not my idea), then I stopped smoking (again) and decided that if I was really going to be a lifetime nonsmoker, I’d have to address the weight issue. It’s always been the number one reason why I start puffing nicotine again.

I heard about a 30-day makeover one of the gyms in town was offering. I met with a young (thin) woman who explained the program. She said I needed the “extended” program to get the results I wanted. I guess I’m too far gone to see a transformation in only one month.

I was given a 1,400 calorie diet and assigned a personal trainer. I got to choose the time of day for the workouts. I wanted to get it over with as early as possible, and I figured if I got there before dawn there wouldn’t be a lot of “beautiful” people staring at me.

The first day I got up early. I put on my sweats, combed my hair and debated about putting on some “light” makeup (I didn’t want to scare the trainer) but decided to go to the gym with a naked face. I arrived at 6:20 a.m. — 10 minutes early — to familiarize myself with the gym. The first problem I had was trying to find a place to park within walking distance. It seems that half of Columbia works out between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Avoiding any eye contact, I walked through the lobby praying I wouldn’t see someone who knew me. Within two minutes I heard my name. Looking up, I saw a woman I had worked with for years. This woman is a little older than me but about 50 pounds slimmer and now I know why. She was nearly running on the treadmill and breathing normally. But good news — her face was naked, too! Looking around I saw that everyone — guys and gals alike — looked just as bad as I did. I can do this I thought.

At 6:30 on the dot my “trainer” appeared before me. I guess I looked like his mark because after introducing himself, he asked if I was ready to start. Before beginning I gave him the once over. The first thing I noted was his age — he’s younger than my youngest child. He had huge muscles and seemed filled with energy, but best of all he had a great smile. Maybe he’d inspire me.

He said we’d start with the easy stuff and promptly put me on an elliptical machine. At first it took little effort to push the straight metal arms back and forth while swinging my legs to and fro. However, after awhile I got tired and the movements took more effort. I looked down at the timer. I had been on the machine for six minutes, but my trainer just smiled and said only four more minutes. I was sweating like pig on a spit. Note to self: Wear lighter clothing even if it doesn’t mask the fat.

We tried three other “aerobic” machines — each one seemed a little more difficult than the last. My trainer kept his great smile even when I told him I would slash his tires if he EVER made me do the stair-climber-from-hell again.

If you’re counting, I’d been “in training” for 40 minutes. By this time I was sweating so profusely I couldn’t see. My heart rate must have been above 200, and just as I was about to say “enough” my smiling trainer decided it was time to try weights. I didn’t care that he handed me the lightest ones in the joint. I figured I had to start somewhere. Once again it was easy keeping form at first. But as we got to the 11th, 12th and 13th repetition, the dumbbells became so heavy my arms splayed sideways. My smiling trainer apparently knew I was going to die soon and stopped counting at 14. I played with weights for 10 minutes and then it was time for floor exercises. It took me a full minute just to get down on the floor. The crunches were OK, but the leg lifts just about did me in.

We finished with some stretching. I realized I had no flexibility when I was told to grab my ankle and all I could manage was my sock, which I held onto for dear life.

Finally my trainer looked at the clock.

“I can’t believe the hour is over so quickly,” he said with that damn smile.

Thinking I had just endured the longest hour of my life, I smiled back, relieved it was over.

I’ve resolved to finish the program, but there’s no way I’d ever put myself through these workouts without someone to push me. It looks like smiley and I are going to become best friends.

If you have a comment or want the name of my trainer please e-mail me at

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