Boot camp and beyond

Why pay for personal training?
16 October 2006 (Monday), 11:35 pm
Filed under: Climbing, Outside boot camp log

This whole personal training thing is causing me to reevaluate my previously uninformed biases about the practice of using a personal trainer. I always figured people who went to personal trainers were hardcore athletes or actors/public figures whose bodies were pivotal to their ability to earn money, or executives who had more money than time and were intensity junkies, or women with body image disorders, or rich people who were bored and had nothing better to do and (if you believe stupid TV show premises) might be having affairs with their trainers. The one friend of mine (that I know of) who’s signed up for regular personal training sessions in the past fits the intensity junky/short on time generalization.

Based on my stereotyping categories, the need for intensity seems closest to my motivation too. I went climbing tonight for the second time since injuring my foot in August; the intensity of it, even at the fairly novice level I’m at, definitely appeals to me though I often whine about it as I suffer through the pain or fear it causes.

Michael, my climbing buddy, has been pushing me to attempt more overhangs, because they sketch me out. Tonight I both proved to myself that I’m no longer intimidated by the mild overhang at the top of a 5.7 route on one wall, and freaked out on two other routes (a 5.8 and a 5.9) because I was quite certain I was going to die. I knew on one level it was entirely irrational, because Michael wasn’t going to drop me and if I lost hold of the wall I was at most going to bruise myself. But despite not being afraid of heights and trusting Michael, the rope and the knots not to screw up, when my body weight is pulling me away from the wall and I need to move one of my arms to the next hold, my fear of falling of kicks into overdrive. As does my ability to visualize myself swinging towards an angly bit at the edge of an overhang and splitting open my head or poking an eye out, even though laws of physics would have to be violated for that to happen. I didn’t complete either of the scary routes but I came close on the 5.8 and I felt great about it when I got down to the ground again. So yes, putting myself in difficult or challenging situations must be something I enjoy, or I wouldn’t keep doing it.

Why am I revisiting the assumptions about why people hire personal trainers? Because I’ve paid for two sessions a week until November 5th and it makes sense to articulate why I’m doing this, in order to achieve as much as possible out of it. Plus this guy thinks it’s important. Additionally, this morning T’ai wasn’t able to make it so Chrissy and I were left to train ourselves, which highlighted to me the benefit having a trainer provides. Thus, a list (I like lists, if you haven’t already noticed; I am also overfond of parenthetical asides):

1. Accountability, both financial and personal: having a walking/climbing/running/dancing buddy who is counting on me to show up and work out with them is helpful; having a trainer counting on me to show up plus having money committed that I don’t want to waste is even more helpful.

2. Being pushed to my limits and discovering I’m capable of more than I thought: this morning Chrissy and I did a reasonably thorough and hard workout. I wasn’t exhausted the way I was after last Wednesday’s session, though, even though we repeated the two most challenging exercises: dips with our feet up on a stability ball, and push ups with one hand on a medicine ball and the other hand on the mat (rolling the ball from one hand to the other in between each push up). I’d told Rob the RMT about them at my massage Wednesday afternoon, and he accused T’ai of violating the Geneva convention with that sort of torture. This morning, though, I stopped just short of torturing myself; I may have done more reps of the dips, but didn’t do as many of the push ups, and didn’t feel as rubbery-yet-accomplished after either.

Which brings me to the third reason — there are more, but if I get to bed right this instant I still won’t get 7 hours of sleep, so three will do for now:

3. Variety: I’ve been surprised by all the new exercises T’ai has thrown at us. They’re almost all things I can do at home on my own or with Mounir, but every session we do something new. Variety rocks. I hate being bored; being challenged to try something new, even if I wouldn’t inflict it on the most evil war criminal in the history of war criminals, is fun. I could buy (and have bought) DVDs that will push me and provide the physical part of the challenge, but having a trainer means someone else is responsible for keeping it new and mentally challenging.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’ve learned sports without a trainer and others with, and you get much better, much faster with a trainer, but the personality fit is key. I think it depends on what your goals are; if you want to be very good at, say, trailrunning, you hire a trainer. If you just enjoy the experience and you’re meeting your fitness goals, you don’t need one.

Comment by raincoaster

I think it’s smart to work with a personal trainer in order to learn how to make the most of the exercises you do.

Comment by Rachael

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