While most people find themselves longing to get fit near New Years, my desire hit me around April. Why April? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I suddenly found myself with an overwhelming urge to get fit again. It just so happened that, around the same time, I got an advertisement in the mail for a new local gym. Falling victim to the advertisement I signed up, and my best friend and I found our way over there a few times a week and met with a personal trainer.
Despite going to the gym all the time, nothing was changing. We weren’t getting stronger or even healthier — it simply felt like we were going to put in the time and pretend it was doing us any good at all. One day, we were approached by a personal trainer, Anna, who offered to do a free session with us. Excited about the opportunity, we jumped on it and met up with her later that same week.
The personal trainer didn’t hold back. We found ourselves dripping in sweat, and my muscles were screaming by the end, but it was also the most fun workout I had ever had. Even though we were s—t broke, we decided to sign up for eight sessions, which were once a week. Tyler Read, the fitness instructor and CEO of PTPioneer.com, suggests that 8 to 12 weeks is a good time frame to see results in the gym.
I’ve never felt so confident that my money was going to the right place. Not only did our personal trainer push us to the max, but she also taught us how to succeed on our own and truly cared about our personal journey to health.
However, that does not mean that it was easy work. We met for an hour every Thursday for two months, and our personal trainer made that time count. My muscles screamed for an hour, and I nearly passed out once, but it was all worth it in the end. Especially when the muscles normally buried under fat began to show.
When we first started going to the gym, I was extremely doubtful that a personal trainer could even teach us anything that we didn’t already know. My best friend and I had both been fairly active our whole lives and played plenty of sports, but training your body to be strong on the volleyball court turned out to be very different from conditioning it to be stronger in general.
During personal training, I learned the proper way to do squats and found that my knees no longer hurt or popped out, even when squatting a 40-pound bar. I learned exercises that I didn’t even know existed that were entertaining and extremely effective. Our personal trainer walked us through every exercise and kept us from hurting ourselves while simultaneously teaching us how to navigate the gym, much like how you would a grocery store.
I’ve never been a gym rat. I usually find myself on the field rather than by the weight rack, so, when we first started going to the gym, it was extremely intimidating. When you first walk into a gym, it seems like everyone knows what they are doing, and, for people like me who didn’t find themselves in the gym very often, that was extremely overwhelming.
Hundreds of machines and weights seemed to stare out across the room, looming with hate and making my spine crawl — I didn’t know which size of weight I could confidently use or which machine would target which muscle.
Even after we started personal training, I feared being at the gym by myself. Where should I start? How many reps should I do? Are people staring at me or at themselves in the mirror? Having a personal trainer didn’t eliminate these fears, but it helped guide me in the right direction, so I felt confident enough to tackle the gym with at least a small understanding of what I was doing.
Getting back into shape is no easy task; it’s basically rewriting the script of your day as you try to incorporate healthier eating and exercising. Before getting a personal trainer, I thought that it took mostly self-motivation to keep yourself on task and never thought that I would genuinely look forward to the next time I got to work out.
Our personal trainer completely changed my ideals around that. Not only was working out something I didn’t despise, I began to get excited when I knew we had a session coming up. Working out was fun, and that was something I had never experienced outside of sports before.
Our personal trainer taught us exercises that were entertaining, and my friend and I pushed each other to the max, using our competitive nature to make exercise more of a game than a chore we had to complete to keep our bodies strong.
When we got to an exercise that one of us disliked, we would tell our personal trainer, and they would toss it out the door telling us: “There are so many exercises that work. You should never do something you hate.” This changed my entire perspective on exercising and built a new relationship with my body. Instead of being about pushing myself to the limit, exercising became about building a relationship with my body, which lead to strength and confidence.
After eight weeks of training, we wanted to continue, but our wallets had other ideas. We reluctantly bid our personal trainer goodbye until we could afford it again, but even just doing it for eight weeks gave us a new mindset and pushed us to continue taking care of our bodies and pushing ourselves to be stronger.
Our personal trainer taught us that working out is something to look forward to and should be about pushing your own limits in order to beat your own past records, not forcing yourself to do something you hate.
Getting back into working out after years of laziness is not an easy task, especially when you first realize how weak you’ve become over time. However, with some guidance, it doesn’t have to be horrible and can actually be enjoyable. Even the pain from sore muscles the next day feels like you’ve accomplished something. Exercising is a fantastic way to feel stronger and more motivated — sometimes you just need a little help in getting there.