Personal Trainer day: Was my backache psychosomatic? I felt nervous: a middle-aged woman trudging to the Y weight room without a clue. These aching back muscles were the excuse I needed to postpone my appointment with Mike, but I considered the hot tub and sauna. Maybe I could just meet Mike and tell him it was no-go for the training session, then plunge into the ecstasy of the hot tub.
I have always avoided the weight room, heading instead for the rubber track, the rowing machine, or the swimming pool, where I do a leisurely 10 or 15 minutes of faffing around before I head to hot tub heaven. But today I was looking for Mike, who I was told would be wearing a red – yikes – there, in a red shirt, swaggered an alarming specimen, and – were those flames coming out of his nostrils? I was the only woman in a room full of Men Who Meant Business, snorting and wiping soaking foreheads before diving into some new self-inflicted torture, ferocious and lamp-eyed and single-minded. Were these men or trolls?
Sweet relief – Mike was not the dragon-man, but a humble-looking person now coming in with some papers. Mike, it turned out, was an angel. Here is a fragment of our conversation, with my part followed in brackets by what I was thinking:
Mike: First I’m going to show you this stretch for the backache you have right now. (Demonstrates)
KW: Like this? (Oh my god the back pain is INSTANTLY GONE.)
Mike: So when we build this program for you it’s going to have three parts: cardio, weights, and the candy will be your swimming, which you were doing anyway. Do you think you can come three times a week?
KW: Er… maybe – I was thinking more like twice a week? (I was thinking ONCE a week. THREE TIMES? I’m going to DIE.)
Mike: I’d like it if you got into the habit of coming even when you might not feel like it. Say, for instance, you notice that on television there is a retrospective of Sonny and Cher…”
KW: Bwahahahaha A RETROSPECTIVE OF SONNY AND CHER (Mike I adore you!)
…And so it went like that, and by the time Mike was finished with me, he had shown me the weight/toning part of my new program, with the cardio reserved for next time. He told me to do fast-walking warm-up laps walking backwards and in a cross-legged side-to-side way because he didn’t want me to get bored. When I did the exercises, some on freestanding weights, some with elastic, two on machines, and one balancing with one foot on a step while I moved weights, my muscles felt alive and sang the way they sing after a therapeutic massage.
Mike is working as a trainer as part of his studies in biology and nutrition. It’s a way for him to get practical experience. He’s a mature student, never having finished CEGEP (the Quebec requirement for anyone doing post high-school education). He put me at ease, took away my fear that I might not be able to do this, and built a precise, challenging and rewarding program especially for me, based on some very insightful and kind questions he asked me at the beginning. After an hour and fifteen minutes with Mike, I had a whole new outlook on life, and I went straight to Chinatown’s Magic Idea Tea Room (where I’ve never been before) and ordered tofu in a delicious sauce with scallions, and a glass pot of tea in which bloomed an entire chrysanthemum blossom, globe amaranth, and pink and white jasmine flowers.