So for my birthday, I got myself an expensive gift I didn’t want:
A personal trainer.
I don’t want a personal trainer because I hate exercise and I hate going someplace else to exercise and I hate paying money to have strangers judge my body. But I also recognize that my fitness has never been great, and perhaps I don’t know how to push myself properly (which is a real concern when you have both heart problems and a proven inability to recognize fatal pain), and so I signed up for a couple of months with a personal trainer as an experiment. Just to see whether it would make a difference.
And this trainer seemed nice. She told me she was not the ooh-rah trainer who says you’re not done until you’re barfing. She was a physical therapist who’d dealt with heart patients before, and could make long-term changes conducive to my benefit.
So as I went to the trainer yesterday, I was nervous. I’m not a weightlifter. Would she have me doing laps around the gym? Would it be the medicine ball? Would I be completely useless after the session, my every muscle quivering?
As it turned out, my job was to stand there while they critiqued.
I failed at standing.
“See how his hip is turned out?” she asked her fellow trainer, who was called in for a consultation. “All his weight is on his left foot.”
“Dangerous to let a man like that exercise,” the other trainer agreed, and I was shuttled off to a massage room where she jammed the inside of my hip, telling me to relax as she rammed stiff fingers dangerously close to my crotch, reminding me to breathe.
“You’re very shielded,” she said, wrenching me aside. “I can’t get this muscle to release.” And then, five minutes later: “That’ll do.”
She didn’t get it to release, but apparently she’d given up on me.
Then she had me breathe.
I failed breathing.
Apparently, there’s a way you breathe from your diaphragm in a way that makes your crotch tighten, and if that sounds sexy I assure you it was not. All my breath was in, apparently, my chest. It’s supposed to be in my diaphragm, which is to say my belly, and I did that wrong. She had me on my knees, palm on my stomach, urging me to do something with my belly button to bring it against my spine, and eventually she sighed and called out, “We’re putting him on his back. He can’t do the APT.”
Even on my back, I didn’t breathe properly. She said, encouragingly, that I’d learn, but it’s hard to feel good about yourself when you’ve just failed standing and breathing. I’m not sure what else there is to fail, but I’m sure I’ll find out.
So I have a sheet of exercises. When I head towards the bathroom, I am instructed to take a moment in the hall to twist my leg and loosen the hip, or to stand with my back against the wall and press out. My hip aches from where she pressed hard enough to bruise it.
I thought personal training would be gruelling – and to be fair, I was sweaty and tired at the end of it. And I’m sure it’ll ramp up over time.
I just thought it would be more “You’re too weak to lift this weight” and less “You’re too incompetent to breathe,” you know?
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.