Friday, January 14, 2011

Getting Assessed

Well, I’m still alive. And, proud to say, feeling really positive. My fitness assessment yesterday was actually a really positive experience. I am shocked.

As usual, the whole world exploded about 30 minutes before the end of the work day (does that happen at anyone else’s office, or just mine?) and so my plans to arrive 15 minutes early all calm and collected were scrapped. Instead, I arrived at the gym 3 minutes early after hoofing it down the street in the cold, lugging my gym stuff, giant winter jacket, sneakers…etc. I changed my clothes, battled the locker room full of people still valiantly sticking to those resolutions, and headed to the front desk.

And there she was, waiting for me. She didn’t look evil. But come on. She must be evil.

Stephanie, the trainer assigned to the difficult task of convincing me that this was not a giant waste of time and an emotionally scarring experience, commented on my stress level. She could tell right away that I was uncomfortable, nervous, and probably a little stressed out.

Tip: If you’re doing this sort of thing and you’re not totally comfortable with the idea, seriously consider scheduling it for a time when you’re unlikely to be freaking out or worrying about arriving late.

Stephanie led me to a small room and told me that we’d talk first. She asked a few questions about me, told me a little bit about herself, the usual getting-to-know you business.

I had been given a booklet to fill out before the assessment, with a PARQ form (it’s a participant questionnaire/waiver form) and a few pages of questions. Some of the questions were really straight forward (how many hours of sleep did you get last night? Write down what you ate today?), and some of them made me think a little bit more.

Like – when were you happiest with your fitness ability? Never. Why do you want to achieve your goals? What do you need from the personal training staff?

We talked about past injuries, my current level of fitness, what I ate on a regular basis. We talked about what my goals were, and if they were realistic. Why they were important to me. We talked about obstacles, support, what I needed to succeed.

This is what I was thinking while we were having our conversation:

This woman is a competitive bodybuilder (I think…there’s a bit of a language barrier). How could this woman with her perfect body ever understand what was going on in my head? What it’s like? How intimidating this is? How could she understand what I’m thinking and going through, the struggles I have not to call it a day, skip the gym and eat my way through a giant plate o’ lasagna when I’m feeling crappy about the world? I’m sure she’s never eaten lasagna in her life. Wait a second, is she suggesting I eat sweet potatoes for breakfast?
Then she took my measurements, blood pressure, and heart rate. Good news – my blood pressure and heart rate are pretty much perfect.

Then she asked me to take off my shoe and sock and stuck four stickers on my left side – two on my feet, two on my arm and hooked me up to some kind of electrical device that measures your body composition.

And this is where it all clicked for me.

My body fat percentage is higher than it should be – which is not healthy. I can do cardio until I’m blue in the face, and that’s awesome, but it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on my lean muscle to fat ratio.

I don’t know the first thing about strength training, which is what I’m going to need to do to build muscle and reduce that body fat percentage.

Then Stephanie walked me through the training plan she would suggest for me – a foundation phase, a muscle building phase, a fat burning phase, and maintenance. We talked about what type of exercise I like to do, and what’s an ideal number of times a week to work out.

And then she took me out on the gym floor and I watched my form as I did squats and lunges, both on the floor and on a bosu ball thing. Not once did she laugh at me for not being able to do something. Not once did she yell. Not once did I cry – or even want to cry.

When my 60 minutes was up, Stephanie suggested that I do 30 minutes of cardio, if I had the time. I did – and I really pushed it.

I’ve never wanted to work out with a trainer. I’m definitely a do-it-yourself type of person. I’ve always been smart enough to catch on quickly to new things and learn things myself. If I couldn’t figure it out, I wasn’t going to ask for help – because that would be showing a weakness, right?

But I can’t do this myself.

I have two more free sessions with my gym – one that’s included in membership, and one that I won.

I have another session scheduled with Stephanie on Monday – a full workout this time.
I’ve asked her if we can develop a plan that I can do on my own, because at the moment, I don’t know if I can afford to hire a personal trainer. Getting the gym membership itself was a bit of a stretch. I work in the non-profit sector, I have other expenses…we all do.

But I’d really like to make this work, somehow. Realizing that I need to change my body-fat percentage was a huge wakeup call, and I don’t think that can be achieved with spin class and zumba and elliptical workouts alone.

I’m intimidated, and a little nervous about our workout on Monday, but for the first time, I’m also excited. I can’t stop thinking about it. In my world, that means I must really want it. If anyone would like to buy me a personal trainer for my birthday, which is coming up in 4 short months, you know how to get in touch ;)


Sophia Petrillo said...

I'm glad it was a good experience! I remember having one of those about 5 years ago, and it was horrifying. First bad thing - it was a prerequisite of joining the gym. Second bad thing - it was conducted by a BOY. Third bad thing - he quoted me a BMI that I'M CONVINCED was mistaken (at the time I was 20 pounds overweight, but he said my BMI was 37). Fourth bad thing - he tried to sell me personal training packages the whole time. Growdy, gross, gross. He was a growdy, gross, growdy boy and I shan't ever forgive him.

Lady Churl said...

Go on, girl! I'm proud of you for sticking to your goals. Annnnd that should mean a lot, coming, as it does, from someone you've never met! ;) seriously, though, this journey ain't easy. You're an inspiration.

withoutadornment said...

I'm really glad that your session went well! It makes me sad that the weird, mean and creepy trainers give the good ones a bad rap.

Snowflake said...

Sounds like it was a good experience!! I'll be interested to hear about the next session and the plan she develops for you. And it does sound like a great idea for a birthday present!!

MissHaneefa said...

I am happy that you enjoyed your session with the trainer and I am sure that the next one is going to go even better.

Robert said...

I'm so proud of you. Although our experiences with body image are entirely different, I'm still also intimidated at the gym. My image of a personal trainer was very much like yours. Way to go!

Carolyn said...

Go Megan go Megan go! (you can read that sentence with this rhythm: "Package-a package-a gum")

I think this is an awesome step forward and I think sticking with the trainer for a bit will yield big benefits. Sure it's pricey, but this whole adventure is one of your priorities right now, isn't it? After a series of 10 sessions, you'll have way more confidence in the gym, a way better vocabulary of what you can do when you're there, and a plan of attack for your own actual body, rather than what the internet says works. Google is incredible but sometimes you need a real person.

Hmm that got a bit long. Guess it's because I know you and love you.