Friday, January 13, 2012

Oh, that's why they call it 'Fit for Life'!

Where was I a year ago? That's right: bummed and tubby from six months non-weight-bearing after that whole broken-legs marathon debacle.

I burned some crutch weight that November, spinning 2-3 hours a day, running most days of the week, doing boot camp and Tracy Anderson videos, all in an insane effort to win my work's "step challenge." Yeah, I swept the prizes.

Six months free fitness center was tops. But I wasn't sure about the person training program, "Get Fit for Life," that I'd won. Why did I need a fitness program? I could run. Far. Sometimes fast. And I biked o-plenty and lifted moderately heavy things. I was fit as a fiddle, right?


I started working with my trainer, Melissa, at One to One Fitness last January. In fact, the winter program starts the week of Jan. 16, if you're interested. She did an initial evaluation (i.e., push-ups, heart rate, weight, stair-stepping, etc.) and accepted my insane history.

First couple weeks were getting-to-know-you workouts — what could I do, what was I willing to do, how hard would I work. It didn't take Melissa long to realize that I'm more than a little crazy and want to be The Hulk, yet still feminine and without Madonna arms. Oh, and I wanted to lose 10 pounds.

Over the eight-week program, I lost eight pounds, as well as plenty of body fat and inches. Sure, my eating habits changed, my body composition improved and I felt much stronger. I was healthier. But there was much more to this program than the myriad cardio and strengthening exercises I'd take with me and totally deserving new pants.

Not a second thought was needed for me to buy a training package with Melissa once the program ended. In fact, there's nothing I've felt was a more worthy investment. Ever.

What's the big deal? Well, backstory: I'm a super-nerd. Like nerdiest to the maximus.

So, personal training works for me because a) I think correct form is important (for effectiveness and safety) and my trainer keeps me true; b) I like to push myself, but love to be pushed beyond my expectations by someone who knows how far is too far; c) I need to do exercises I hate doing, that hurt the most and that I wouldn't do if she didn't make me!

Another bonus: weekly appointments keep me on track. My life change a lot this fall and my scheduled wasn't always amenable to my regularly scheduled workouts. But I respect my trainer and my training program. Even if a few days escaped me, I'd look at the calendar and realize Tuesday was fast approaching. It was time to slough off the rust and get working again. Who wants to show up to your training appointment bloated and tired? Not me. So, I never get more than a few days off course. Without training? I could have gotten lost for months before realizing the mess I've made.

The other nerd factor: I see training appointments as test days. It's my responsibility to work hard all week to perform my best come training day. I value the expertise and support Melissa gives me. The least I can do is work hard on what she assigns and deliver results. After all: this wonderful woman puts up with me, all my self-criticism, projectile sweat and snotting.

Sure, I don't always perform my best. But she's there to help me understand why and encourage me to power on.

Then there's, well, everyone else at One to One Fitness. Remember Cheers? Well, it's kind of like that, but less beer and barstools, more smoothies and treadmills. And that hasn't always been my experience of gyms. I love that trainers and staff care enough to talk to me, share their lives as much as they ask about mine and, of course, know my name. If I go a couple days without visiting One to One, I feel like I'm ditching my friends. I miss the spirit in that place. I miss feeling happy and being healthy.

Yes, it goes even further. Having a crap time at my job last year, I had a couple offers in the corporate world for, well, about 50% more pay than I get here. There were plenty of reasons within my office, the university and a hoped-for future that kept me here.

But I'd be lying if I didn't think about One to One when making that decision. How would I make it to my training appointments with Melissa? When would I make it to One to One to workout? Could the new job give me an office right next to One to One to make my active life easier?

It's one seriously dependent relationship I have with that place. And I'm OK with that.

Silly as it sounds, my being wrong about how much I needed that "Get Fit for Life" program opened my mind about what I really know about other things I need to embrace. Like lima beans and Will Ferrell movies. (Oh, wait... not that much).

2011 was a trying year, rife with challenges — both fantastic and horribly painful — that I'm sure will pay off in the long run. No matter what happened, I was always anchored to one thing that was always fantastic. And that's the kind of thing — that staple, that assurance — that keeps you healthy all your life.