Diary of a Lazy Man - Too Lazy to Go Alone

Today, I clocked in at 221 pounds. Since I measure in increments of Taco Bell 1/2 Pound Beef Combo Burritos, I've lost about 30 burritos in a few months. I'm at an entirely new and previously unused hole on my belt, and I had to pick up a few new pairs of pants, since I was unintentionally starting to do that whole saggy pants thing that was popular for whatever reason a while back.

I haven't made this progress alone. I cannot overstate that I am a very lazy man. I could promise myself that I'd go to the gym every day, go out for a run each night, or scale mountains every weekend, but I know me. I talk myself out of doing stuff like that all the time.

I was going to go to the gym, but I'm afraid that global warming is somehow going to affect the gravitational field around my sofa, leaving it to float away like kid's balloon at a state fair. I better stay here and make sure it stays put.

Recognizing that I have no intent to honor a promise to myself when it comes to doing something hard, I signed up for personal training. I've done this once years ago at a different gym and had a great experience. I'm at LA Fitness now because they're convenient to home and work, so I gave them a try.

I started almost a couple of years ago, with what LA Fitness dubs their free "fitness assessment". Naively, I thought this might be an well-planned assessment of my body composition combined with a few exercises to test my strength and endurance and see where I might need some improvements.

Instead, what I got was a wannabe MMA fighter named Corey who had me do a bunch of crazy crap I was clearly unsuited for in order to scare/humiliate me into buying into the personal training sessions, which...that was why I was there in the first place, so it would have been easier just to tell me about the trainers and the cost of the sessions. It's hard to sign a contract when you pass out at some idiot's desk, which is exactly what happened to me. I was so angry and humiliated that I almost left. However, I was still weak from having passed out, so I would not so much stormed out of the place as crawled out very slowly in anger, whispering threats of vengeance between gasps. Despite being not only humiliated, but barely conscious, I was there to get personal training, so I signed up anyway. Later, I called the club and told them that I'd work with any trainer other than Corey. I hope he loses every fight in his MMA career.

LA Fitness assigned me to Jared (they never give out last names...do personal trainers often have stalkers?). I liked Jared a lot. He was a young guy who said that he'd struggled with his weight as a teenager and had worked really hard to get fit. He'd developed a passion for working with other people who wanted to improve their fitness level. We had a good rapport and he helped get me started again, while paying attention to the fact that though I'd been in great shape years ago, I was definitely starting from scratch. There were a lot of painful, exhausting moments in those first weeks.

Unfortunately for my personal training regimen, after a couple of months with Jared, I moved up to Vancouver, Washington which meant I'd have to go to a new branch of LA Fitness, so I didn't see Jared again.

My new trainer was named James, and that guy...screw that guy. He was a different kind of jerk than Corey was. He was young and very condescending toward me. Look, I'm really damn aware that I'm 45, way overweight, and really weak. I'm so remarkably aware of those facts that I'm paying someone to help me change my situation. If you take a job in which you're supposed to help people like me, don't be a condescending little prick to them.

I stopped going to personal training because of James. Again, it was nothing overt, just little snide remarks and attitude, making fun of me for not being great at bicep curls or lat pulldowns or stepping up on to little plastic steps and stepping down again. Those little plastic steps seem like they should be easy, but when you're used to stepping over from the sofa to the fridge to grab more ice cream, repeatedly stepping on and off those little steps is weirdly damn tiring. The thing is, I'm there because I don't want stepping onto things to be tiring. I want it to be boring and tedious, because it's exactly as exciting as it sounds, but not tiring.

Screw you, plastic steps. [1]

Nearly a year later, after my doctor visit and the incontrovertible evidence that I was coming up on 250 pounds (or 500 burritos), I gave personal training a second chance because I'm too lazy to do this alone.

Twice I week, I'm hitting a branch of LA Fitness near my office and have had three different trainers in the 10 weeks I've been going:

  • Yana was sarcastic and a little condescending, but had short-timer's syndrome because she was leaving to go give birth to a small human within two weeks of me starting. I'll develop a "whatever" attitude at work if I'm out of Diet Coke, so I hold her harmless for being blasé about our sessions.
  • Ethan took over for Yana and was pretty good. He made me work hard, which is exactly what I wanted. He was good at assessing where I was at, where I needed improvements, and giving good feedback. He didn't dig the work environment there, though, and left for another gym.
  • Rachelle is my current trainer, and even though I wasn't sure about her at first, after a couple of weeks, she's proving to be good at kicking my ass. I always felt wiped out after I trained with Ethan, but with Rachelle, I find myself barely able to get back to the locker room (in a good way).

So far, things have worked out pretty well. I've gone from actually passing out at Corey's desk to being able to do a solid 30 minute strength training session filled with squats, lunges, and other weird exercises that sound as much like torture techniques as exercises. When you're like me, there's not much of a difference between torture and fitness. Except maybe that I'm paying the torturer...er...trainer in this case.

But as long as I keep making progress, gaining strength, and losing burritos, I'll keep coming back until I have a waist size that isn't measured in furlongs or fathoms or whatever.

  1. Cover Image by MP Becker. Sofa image by Graham Reznick. Step image by Kenny Holston. Images licensed under Creative Commons. ↩︎