fighting the fat gene,  fitness,  Life Lessons,  Moody Blues,  spilling my guts

Me and the Gym


I never told you guys about how I joined a gym. I was going to but then my Grandpa died and the nieces came to visit and it got shelved. It’s probably a good thing I waited though because my opinion of the whole place has changed. On a daily basis. You could say I have a love/hate relationship with the gym.

When I first joined they set me up with a free complimentary session with a personal trainer. I said, Bring it on! I love personal trainers! I used to have one back in the day when I worked at the junk mail factory (an awesome company perk) and I loved it. Working out always goes better when you have someone else nagging you to do lunges correctly.

It turns out the free complimentary session at the new gym was more of a hard sell in disguise for their bazungo crazy expensive personal trainer program. What a crock. First the guy broke me down and pretty much made me eat dirt and admit that I was in much worse shape than I realized. He had me lifting all kinds of crazy weight in super slow sets that had my knees shivering like a little girl.

I know this method of working out is usually effective so of course I let him abuse me. I embraced the pain. But then the machines were so complicated. I was doing leg lifts backwards on something you usually use for your abs and something swung around and smashed my index finger in a way it should not have. It hurt. Bad. I still have a blue nail to prove it.

Blargin’ Trainer Guy. I hate him.

After about forty-five minutes of brutal humbling, we headed over to his desk to “talk about my options.” I admit it. I was sold. Not because I loved the work-out but he pretty much had me convinced that there was no other way to get in shape other than to hire him to whip me. My future looked pretty bleak. Even with his program it would probably take me six months to a year to lose the twenty pounds I need to lose. And let me tell you, those pounds were the ugliest pounds I’ve ever looked at. I’m sure he had me working out in front of a mirror for that exact desired effect.

We talked and talked. He complimented me on my knowledge. I learned about his struggle with MS and how he holds some kind of trophy belt for being the best trainer in all of California. It was a happy little talk and then right as the short hand reached the hour mark, he slid his laminated rates page across the desk.

Sixty dollars a session.

SIXTY DOLLARS A SESSION!!!! Plus a hundred-and-something-or-other for initiation.

Say what?!!

I’m not made of money. I can’t afford sixty dollars a week. Is this guy crazy? I live in a depressed town where everyone is on welfare. How do people afford this?!! Do their insurance companies cover it? Does the government offer programs for this? I saw plenty of people working out with trainers. They must be coming up with the money somehow. How do they do it? I pretty much emptied my checking account to join the gym in the first place.

Then the worst thing happened. The ugly cry came over my face. I didn’t mean it to. I never cry in public, well hardly ever. I hid under my bangs but once it started I couldn’t stop it. I guess I was a little more stressed out than I realized. Work had been tricky, money has been tight, my house seemed like it would never stay clean (thanks to my brother who was making it his personal mission to mess it up), everybody thinks I’m uptight because I’m a control freak about my house, Bug didn’t like their dumb kid’s club daycare and well, the whole navigating a dissolving marriage thing…you know, maybe it was just too much.

I put my hands over my eyes, got up from his desk and walked backwards. I hid behind a column that was near his desk and then just split. I didn’t even try to explain myself. What could I say? This guy doesn’t know half of what is going on in my life. Who knows, maybe he makes people cry on a regular basis. I’m sure his services are well worth $60 an hour. I charge more than that for what I do. But you just can’t spend money you don’t have.

So that was that. I haven’t talked to him since. I see him from time to time and I’ve been meaning to stop and apologize but I just haven’t gotten the guts up. He has my phone number, he could have called me but I think he’d rather wash his hands of a weepy over-weight middle-aged frump monster. I don’t know. I’m moving on.

I went home and thought a lot about the whole experience. In the end I decided that this guy doesn’t know me. He has no idea how I work out and how much willpower I have. I can get in shape without him. It might take me longer but I’m not a failure before I even start.

So far I’ve gone to the gym at least two times every week for about a month, often more. It’s too early to be patting myself on the back but I feel pretty good about it. I might not ever lose those twenty pounds. I’m okay with that. I just want to be healthy and not hate myself when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Figuring out a good routine has been a little more challenging. I hate to go to the gym in the morning because that’s my peak creative time and I really like to devote my overly-caffeinated brain cells to my work BUT it seems like if I don’t go work out in the morning it doesn’t happen at all. I’ve tested this over and over for years. So I work out in the morning and it evens out because on those days I seem to have more overall energy anyway and I can work longer at night.

Finding a class that works for me in the morning is a whole other issue. I tried their yoga class but Barbie the Yoga Instructor drove me nuts. She was bendy alright but when she started swinging herself by her wrists and flirting with the very interested jock in the front row I got tired of it real quick. Which is too bad too because I love yoga.

I tried water-aerobics and loved it. It’s fun splashing around in a salt water pool with a bunch of grandmas. I felt like a super star when I could run under water and kick all their butts. Not that I was showing off or anything but sometimes it’s nice to not be the slow poke in the back of the class for a change. I even took my dad to a class. He loved it too. But the time slot was a bit late in the day so I’ve not really been going regularly.

Then I tried step aerobics. It’s perfect for me. It’s just complicated enough that I’m constantly confused and stepping backwards when I should be stepping frontwards. One day I forgot to drink my coffee before class and that day did not go well at all. I couldn’t get the hang of anything. It’s funny because while I have pretty good rhythm and love to dance, I’m terrible at taking instruction.

When the teachers says exit left, I exit right. Crossovers and step-behind grapevine-thingys have me tripping over my own feet. I’m a clutz like no other. But at the end of the work-out, I am exhausted and I haven’t thought one thought about how uncomfortable I’ve been. My brain is so tired from trying to keep up with the complicated routine that it has no idea that my body is sweating bullets. I love it. The teacher is excellent too. We stretch and use weights and everyday I am sore in the good way.

So I guess I could say I love the gym now. We’ll see how it goes.


  • Helena

    BRENDA!!! You are NOT a “over-weight middle-aged frump monster”. That is just silliness. You are HOT MOM. I have some single male friends (now we’re all in our late 30s) and they LOVE THE HOT MOMS.


  • Susie

    Step aerobics is my all-time favorite. For some reason, though, it always makes my knees hurt. I think it’s really fun, though. Congratulations on getting healthy! :)

  • Christine

    What a horrible, mean, sneaky, mean trainer guy. I hope he felt really bad about making you cry and maybe he’ll rethink his strategy in the future (I can dream).

    You are not middle aged. I know you’re not, because I’m not, and I’m pretty sure you’re the same age as me.

    And good on you for going anyway and finding a class you love. I would never have gone back and would be dissolving into a puddle of goo right now instead. You rock.

  • Yara

    I was gonna say, “You look great!” but then… I haven’t seen you since January. I’m sure you still look great, though!
    Working out is still good though. I can’t bring myself to go to a gym… trying to drag three kids with me and hoping they enjoy the kid place the whole time seems like too much work. I’m tired just thinking about it! I do step aerobics on the wii fit (when I remember) and it is so much fun. I’m also not so great at following those kinds of directions.

  • Clownfish

    I must borrow Christine’s words, “You ROCK”! Shine that trainer. You put your mind to it…it will get done! It’s not easy but it’s worth it. I’m trying to workout extra hard just because I love to eat. I know that working out is good for my heart and will help me lose the lbs I need to but I just need to make better food choices to really lose my weight. – I’m rooting you on!!

  • Amy

    Can I just say I AM TOTALLY IMPRESSED you actually went back to the gym after session from Hell with Salesman Trainer?!? And to try so much and keep at it?! To find your niche?

    You DO so totally ROCK!

  • Amy

    And BTW every time I see pics or video of you I think how sweet, kind hearted and beautiful you look. Be easy on yourself! You are in NO way a WOWMAFMonster. Really.

  • Kuky

    Watching your last video like ten times (Nathan I kid you not), you do not look over-weight to me. I wish I had your determination to exercise. If I did I’d definitely go with water aerobics, sounds like fun.

  • Heather in WA state

    When I was in my 20’s I dated a jock and he made me come with him to Gold’s Gym and I became a reluctant Gym Rat. Hated it, but sometimes you do bizarre things when you’re in lust. 20 years and *%$& pounds later, I’ve found the YMCA to be the best fit for me. They have an awesome FREE childcare for up to 2 hours a day, tons of FREE classes from tai chi to sit&fit to zumba, FREE personal trainers, and it costs only $97.00 a month for our whole family. If you’re not locked into some evil gym contract, you might investigate if there is a YMCA you could go to. Even if you had to drive a few towns over, if they have good kid programs for Bug and it costs a lot less, it might be worth it.

  • Gena

    Ack! That sucks about the trainer guy. I’ve had a similar horror story with a stock gym trainer. And kudos for you for having the guts to go back and not worry about that fool or letting him get in the way of your goals.

    And you didn’t ask for any suggestions, but if you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend spin class. I just love it to pieces and it melts the weight away. I used to roll my eyes when people would say things like “it’s so addicting” because, it’s WORKING OUT! And then I tried it and was hooked! So if your gym has it . . .

    Otherwise, good work on keeping at it!!

  • Lizard Breath

    You are doing great! My separation diet isn’t working as well as it did in the beginning, but maybe I should take that as a good thing?

    Going to gym to be a healthier you is the best reason to go at all. Weight loss, toned muscles, etc. are a pleasant side benefit.

    Oh, and give that trainer the stink-eye for me!

  • a chris

    Grrr! That trainer has his routine for selling sessions and he knows it’s in his interest to manipulate people into spending money on his services when it’s against their better judgement. So much better to dissolve into tears and back away than to cave and sign your cash away. He knows what he’s doing.

    I admire your determination and persistence in going back and hunting for the right class for you. That was hard work. I hope the gym sessions keep on working out for you (heh heh) because it sounds like they’re good for you — body and soul!

  • sizzle

    Finding what you like doing is key and it sounds like you have. That’s great! I also loved water aerobics but the time was too late in the day (what’s with that?).

  • berlin hair baby

    good for you SAJ..! I also have a love/hate with gym but now that I’m onto Zumba that seems to be going well. I also got tired of hiding my body in my hair tutorials so that’s pushed me to be honest with myself and just do it. Look forward to hearing your gym updates and lots of love! ps: that guy should be ashamed of himself, seriously.

  • Jenn S

    wow, that trainer sounds like, well, a big JERK. and $60 a training session?!?!? what normal person could afford that?? i don’t pay that much a MONTH for my entire gym membership!

  • Elizabeth

    First, good for YOU for going to the gym! I can’t get it together to do that, so I really admire your fortitude! And second, I don’t actually know you, but from the pictures on your blog, you look good to me! Not frumpy at all!!!

  • Ninabi

    You don’t look frumpy to me. I wish I could have been there with you when the trainer made you feel bad because I would have said, SIXTY BUCKS? and then I would have told him to go pee up a rope.

    Step aerobics sounds perfect for you- and it would be for me, too. I have two left feet. Dancing always looks like so much fun but I have to think so hard about where one foot goes and then the other and oh, we have to keep time as well?

    Having a friend exercise with you helps. You look wonderful. Twenty pounds is nothing. You’ve always looked really pretty in your blog.

    If you find you are exercising and eating right and weight isn’t coming off- get your thyroid checked.

  • BeachMama

    Yay for the gym!! It is so hard to get started but once you find a routine it isn’t so bad… says the girl with no routine… keep it up I kno wyou will be svelt in no time flat.

  • Amanda Brown

    Oh, that sounds like such a bad experience with the trainer…but good for you for having the guts to keep going back to the gym. You ARE doing so much right now and should be proud of your inner strength…yay for Brenda!!

  • Mrs. Wilson

    “I just want to be healthy and not hate myself when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.” … that is where I am right now. I hate it.

    Awesome for you going to the gym!! I’m so glad. I need to get on that. By the way, though, I think you look great. Just so you know. :)

  • Madge

    Fish and I were just talking about gyms earlier today. Those trainers are all about the hard sell. I wouldn’t sweat it (no pun intended) one bit. Go do the classes that work for you and have fun!

  • Madge

    Also, I forgot to say… You don’t need a fancy schmancy routine to lose weight. It’s all about burning more calories than you eat. There are some formulas of eating food to work around any metabolic issues, which I don’t think you are up against (yay!). Keep up with the calorie burning activities that you enjoy and I bet you’ll be happy with the results in no time!

    How I wish we could do Step Class together. I would make you look like a pro, hahaha.

  • Shosh

    Does the gym offer a Zumba class? I used to love step but it killed my knees. Zumba is great b/c each routine is coordinated to a song, so you get lots of breaks. But at the end of the class, I for sure got a good work out in, but don’t feel so exhausted.

  • gingermog


    In no way are you a middle aged frump! Your naturally beautiful and a lovely person. Mind you living in California there must be a lot of pressure to be a Barbie doll. Uch that trainer guys sounds like he had a hard sell technique going on, which may work with some people but I think I would have walked away too. I wouldn’t bother calling to apologise, you have nothing to aplogise. For I don’t blame you for bursting into tears what with the stress you’ve been under and your bereavement. I’m just angry someone put you in this situation. I remember when I got a humungous tax bill by mistake just after my Dad died and ended up crying down the phone. I’m glad you found someone thing you enjoy, I tried step aerobics once when I was 18, wow it was tough. I’m also natural uncoordinated :P

  • Holli

    Hi there, I don’t usually post on your blog but I really enjoy reading about your adventures. Thanks very much for sharing your life! I thought I would share my favorite website-the workouts are based on interval training, they are generally short, challenging, mainly using your own body weight (little equipment) and best of all FREE! Don’t be intimidated-the trainer is a great woman who will provide you with modifications for beginners, modifications if you don’t have equipment and walk you through the workouts. When I started them, I could not do a lot of what I can do now. It is very rewarding to feel the progression…you could do these workouts in your backyard.

  • Nat

    Find a ZUMBA class once you do one class you will be hooked that’s if you like to dance I have been doing it for a year now and I LOVE IT.

  • MrActually

    I used to do step-robics in college. It was actually quite fun and a great workout. I still remember how perfect of a fit our routine was paired with Heavy D’s extended/dance version of “Now that we found love.”
    I’m glad you found something that you like to do – that makes such a big difference.
    Forget about that trainer-guy. It was a set-up to get you to do something that you probably wouldn’t have done if you just walked in cold or came back the next day. It was all in the timing. I think you had the perfect response and it probably freaked his freak a little bit – a good thing, I think, considering his MO.