It started innocently enough. The gym I joined offered a free “consultation” with a personal trainer for new members. It had been a while and they had been razzing me every time I walked in the door to schedule an appointment. I knew that it was just a ploy to sell me some pricy, bloated personal training package. No way. But then again, I thought, what harm could consultation do? I might get some pointers.
The Saturday morning started like many others. I casually cruised through the gym doors at 8 a.m. ready to show the world my awesome running ability. Then, I met “The Meat.” I will call him “The Meat” because, well, it is just fitting. You probably all know the type. The slightly chunky but very muscular gym rat who reeks of uninhibited testosterone, sweat and ego. You may see him at your local gym with one of those leather belts on, 40 pounds of weights hanging from their waist as they do 20-plus pull ups in a row. That was my personal trainer for the next hour. He called me “Sweet Cheeks.” I immediately hated the man.
We sat down at a desk and he asked me in the best macho voice if I were ready to get pumped, to take my running to the next level. This man was a nice little stereotype wrapped in a bow.
He had me fill out a sheet with all pertinent health information, prior injuries, high blood pressure, tendency to faint … those types of things. He was obviously very busy because he left the desk several times during this initial part of the consultation.
We went over basal metabolic rate – how much I burn in calories every day – body mass index and body fat percentage. When I was told that I could only eat 1,400-ish calories a day in order to not gain weight, I rolled my eyes. I don’t care what he thought. I was not giving up my occasional burger and pizza.
Then it was workout time. Ah, finally. This was the part I was going to enjoy.
The Meat knew that I was training for a marathon and so our first stop was the treadmill. I had this in the bag! The treadmill was my best friend. For now.
He had me start at a 10-minute mile for about three minutes. Then he bumped the speed up to an eight-minute mile. Ran for two minutes. Rested for 30 seconds. Ran again at a seven-minute mile for two minutes. This was when he slyly bumped the incline up to 2 percent. Rested for 30 seconds. His meaty fingers pressed the buttons again increasing the speed to a six-minute mile. The incline was now at 3 percent. I wanted to kill him. I could just envision my sweating head smacking against the front of the treadmill as my tired legs and cramping side crumpled under me. Five-minute mile. That is when I cracked. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The Meat had won, and his smug little meaty smile knew it.
I was completely deflated and, frankly, just a little angry. It was then that he went over the benefits of having a personal trainer, that with his help I could conquer that five-minute mile barrier and increase my fine muscle fibers, whatever that meant. All of this glided seamlessly into a laminated presentation on his rates and what it would take, financially speaking, to reach my goals.
My red, puffy face wasn’t listening. All I knew was that the mean man had pushed me and that I couldn’t hack his level of stamina. That top-of-the-world feeling that usually came after a good workout was missing.
After considering that the man threw in a couple expletives during our consultation, and the inflated price, it is needless to say that I do not have a personal trainer today.
However, he taught me a valuable lesson. I went back to the gym after that encounter. I got on the treadmill just as I had done before and got ready to run my six miles at my casual clip. Then I looked over the balcony and saw The Meat torturing another poor gym soul, one that may have paid out for this type of treatment. It was then that I set the incline to 2 percent at increased my speed. Something bubbled up inside and I was going to face the challenge The Meat had offered me. I huffed and puffed after that workout and felt like I wanted to collapse in a heap. But, I had pushed myself farther and I was going to be better. Thank you The Meat. I owe you one after all.
One day, I just might run that five-minute mile at a 3 percent grade. Maybe.
In the meantime, I will try to steadily increase my abilities while taking a slice of humble pie along with my Gatorade.
Sarah Cooper is a reporter for the Daily Sparks Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org