About a month ago I graduated from physical therapy after my accident last year and subsequent surgeries. My physical therapist suggested I hold off on my beloved yoga and, instead, choose some weight training at a gym to begin rebuilding my body. I signed up at a HUGE local gym and was immediately offered a free personal training session. For a few weeks I tried doing it myself, but…
Today was my free personal training session.
His name is Barry and I’m not even going to give him a fake name because no other name would do him justice.
Barry from New York.
He’s retired, in amazing shape, and completely unprepared for a 9am personal training session.
“Hey. Hi, how are ya? I’m Barry. Come on over.” He was tall, salty-haired, and rather chiseled for a dude who I’d imagine is in his 60s. “Alright, so first I just gotta get some…uh…I gotta get your…hang on.” He flipped through papers at his desk, took a sip of his newly purchased Starbucks iced coffee, and eventually turned around. “You got any clean intake forms?”
The young woman at the desk behind him nodded as if this wasn’t the first time she was handing him clean intake forms. “Here,” she said without expression.
“Thanks, thanks. Alright. Great, now we’re in business. Now you’re name is Erin…and your last name is…spell your last name again for me?” This is code for “I don’t know your last name.”
“Ok, got it. So, let’s get some basic information…” He proceeded to ask me a few questions, weigh me, and use this little hand-held device to get my body fat percentage.
I. Was. Shocked.
I realize those body fat devices aren’t 100% accurate, but I was in the “Acceptable or Fair” range. I’ve slowly gained so much weight in the past year that I am no longer “Athletic.” I am not even on the “Good” scale. My bodyweight is “Fair”, and “Fair” means “You’re almost fat.” I choked back tears when…
“Ok, so basically we want to drop you a few body fat percentage points and the way we’re going to do that is strength training, or weight lifting…I’ve got this book here that um…where’s my book…”
“It’s over there, Barry,” the expressionless girl said.
“Oh. Yep. Yep. There it is. I got it. Ok so here you are on this scale and what we’re gonna do is…”
He went on to explain a whole bunch of health information that apparently most of the country doesn’t know. Stuff like don’t eat sugar and don’t over-cardio yourself and blah blah blah. I listened because his accent was so intriguing to me. Finally…
“So. You ready for a workout?”
“Yeah! Let’s do it!”
Barry grabbed his Starbucks and walked me to the rowing machine. He was very tall and I could tell he’s always been someone who has been in shape. He talked about his knee problems and the businesses he sold a few years ago as he walked in front of me and so I didn’t really hear any of it.
“…so then when I got down to Florida…hey, you know how to use the rowing machine, right?”
His luck, I do know how.
“Good, great, jump on. So anyway, I got down here and I was thinking about going back to school again because I’m retired and I was bored and trying to find something I’d really enjoy and…”
He talked for about 10 minutes, sipping his Starbucks. I rowed.
“Alright, that’s good. Come on over here and let’s do some squats.”
No, I thought.
“So we’re going to do some squats against this ball on the wall here…” he explained it to death and then he demonstrated.
While holding his Starbucks.
I started doing the squats and apparently I was soo good at them that in the middle of my 15th or 16th squat, Barry set his Starbucks down to pick up weights and hand them to me.
I couldn’t believe it. I was doing squats, real squats for the first time in a year. “1, 2, mm, 4…” The “mm” was his sip of Starbucks. But I was feeling awesome. Doing SQUATS! I was on FIRE!
“Let’s do some burpees, yeah? You know how to do burpees?”
Rot in hell. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
“Great! Let’s do 20.”
I did my 20 burpees (which, if you don’t know, looks like this), but the jumping part…it was unbelievable. I couldn’t JUMP. I guess I haven’t really jumped much since the accident. I couldn’t just…jump in the air. I had to do this weird bend down thing, throw my hands up over my head, and hope I detached from gravity thing. “Is this a problem with my leg?!”
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah, Erin, you’ll have to rebuild muscles. I mean you’ll have to FIND those muscles even, so yeah. Anyway, let’s do walking lunges.”
Walking lunges. I killed squats, but I couldn’t jump, and now…walking lunges.
Y’all. I’m not even kidding. I fell down.
I FELL. DOWN.
My left leg wobbled, then I couldn’t feel it, then I fell down. Luckily, Barry caught me.
“Alright yeah good girl!”
“You look good here. That’s great. Let’s get up and try again here. I’ll…may I?” He reached his hand out to help me up. I got up, unwillingly, back to my feet. “We’re not stopping here. Let’s go.” Suddenly, it felt like it was Barry and me against my leg. We created a team. No matter what my leg did, he was going to get me all the way across the gym doing walking lunges. It was half humiliating and half like being a FREAKIN’ warrior! Barry’s arms under my armpits, one of his arms strung through my left arm for good measure, he did every squat with me.
And I did it. Wobbly. Leaning on Barry. The whole way.
By the end of my training session, I could barely walk. My twig-like left leg wobbled like CRAZY. My leg was WAY weaker than I ever would have thought, and the whole time Barry tried to sell me a personal training package, I was thinking about the fact that I couldn’t even do walking lunges anymore. But that this dude, this 60-something year old New Yorker who worked at a fitness gyn after retiring, held me up to prove (with help) I could do it.
“So, I think this package here…”
“Yeah, thanks Barry. I’m not buying a package today. Thank you for holding me up.”
“Alright girl,” he immediately responded. I knew he didn’t want to sell me anyway. “Proud of you today.”
Yeah. Me, too. Proud and shocked and ready to do this. The next 6 months, I’m dedicated to finding my strength again, both inside and out. Y’all ready?