The Tale of Kevin The Trainer and the Second Session

6pm. Anytime Fitness. I walk in, already anxious. Maybe a drink of water will help, I think, as I move to the bubbler. This is where I discover a new poster for the Mayor’s Challenge–it’s me, my name and “before” photo, plastered to the pinboard right at eye level. All I can picture are the buff young things adding water to their protein powder while staring right at the most unflattering full body picture of me ever released in public.

This is already not going how I imagined.

“So, you thought you hated me last time….”  This is how Kevin The Trainer greets me. I briefly imagine what it would be like to run screaming from the gym, move to a new city and start over. I give up on it–KTT, Destroyer of Dreams, would surely catch me before I even made it past the ellipticals.

Today I get to do a version of squats holding a medicine ball and sitting down on a box. I like the sitting down part. I’m good at the sitting down part.

I also learn to do something called a Russian Twist. After 20 of them, I suddenly understand all the stereotypes about vodka.

My first cardio interval is jump rope. KTT has made sure to tell me, “If you can talk, you’re not working hard enough.” He likes to ask me questions and make conversation during my intervals. It’s a lot like going to a talkative dentist. My vocabulary has become limited to the following, “ok” “uh-huh” and a very ironic “awesome.”

“Your next interval won’t be so awesome,” declares Kevin The Trainer.

He was informed at the start of this that I’m a bit of a Puker. I thought I was providing a warning. He clearly sees it as a challenge.

Turns out the last set of cardio intervals is shuttle runs. Outside. In the parking lot. The busy parking lot. Busy with people. Strangers. Looking at me.

Did I mention Anytime Fitness is two doors down from Toppers Pizza? Carryout customers stare as I run back and forth between the parking lines while Kevin stands there smugly with his stopwatch. I should be proud, instead I want to scream at them, “I hope you feel bad and your pizza tastes bad!” Only we all know it doesn’t, and I don’t have enough air anyway.

Before my last interval, Kevin asks how I’m doing.

“I hate you so much right now.” I say between ragged breaths. He just laughs. Kevin is a twisted cookie.

Finally, the hour ends, and we cool down with a casual walk around the parking lot. He gives me a pep talk about sticking with it, and getting out what I put in. I can’t decide if I want to hug him or punch him in the face. Since I no longer have any conscious control over the muscles for either act, I settle for a nod. Nodding doesn’t hurt. Yet.

To Sneeze or Not To Sneeze

I’ve been sick. That sort of scratchy throat, sneezy, sleepy cold garbage that makes you want to find a cup of soup and a snuggie and take up permanent residence on the couch. Let’s, for a moment, ignore how sad it is to be sick on my birthday (insert chorus of ‘awwww’ here, please), but I’ve got The Mayor’s Challenge going on here! I can’t be sick!

I used a very special 4 point plan to attack this boogery invader and triumph over my malady:

  1. Begin regimen of airborne, zinc, and soup. Sternly inform the virus, “Cold, ain’t nobody got time for this!” This is your new mantra, repeat whenever noticing a symptom.
  2. Frantically Google “cold remedies.”  Try them all within a 5 hour period. Burp, discover the new and intriguing flavor of raw garlic clove-ginger and cayenne tea-apple cider vinegar-mentholated cough drop.
  3. Go on out of town casino trip with Mom. Surely the slot machine noise and loss of income is a solid distraction from the virus that is slowly destroying your will to wear pants and be out of doors. Use copious amounts of hand sanitizer–you’ll feel like a jerk if you get anyone’s sweet old granny sick. (This step is probably optional, but was part of my birthday weekend plans).
  4. Get home. Succumb. Wallow. Spend the next 24 hours hiding in bed, alternating between feeling guilt over not meeting your gym commitments, and taking incredibly restful naps with a kitten.

I should probably mention I’m still sick. Your mileage may vary.

I can tell you what did make me feel pretty great, in the end. I showed up to work out, still feeling sick, but determined to do my best and not skip another day. Deciding to weigh myself at the gym was a pretty big gamble, but finding out I am down 4 lbs made me forget about my cold for at least five whole seconds. And it didn’t leave any weird aftertaste.

So, maybe I care.

Yesterday’s kickoff was interesting. It’s not every day you find you are presented on a display board like the world’s weirdest science project for the whole city to see, and the mayor points you out in a crowd. Being put in the spotlight was terrifying, and also exhilarating. It all feels very real now, and the pressure to succeed is far more overwhelming than I imagined it would be. My first order of business this morning was to wake up and run to the gym (ok, I drove the gym. But I ran when I got there. For FIVE WHOLE MINUTES, guys).

Hypotheses about decreasing adiposity of the chubby subject abound.

So, it turns out, I care what you think of me. It matters if you think I’m mean, or lazy, or a bad person. I can’t bear the thought of disappointing you, of making you ashamed to know me.

We spend so much time pretending we don’t care what other people think, while trying in silent desperation to impress them– to show everyone that we’re good, we matter, we’re somebody worth knowing. Maybe some of us try too hard. I know sometimes we care too much about what others think. More often, the “others” we are trying to impress are the wrong ones.

I can’t pretend anymore. I’m not so cool and aloof that your opinion doesn’t affect me. In fact, I’m counting on it. I’ve tried a lot of things to motivate myself in the past, but I’ve always kept the struggle close like some sort of dirty secret, and I think that has always been one of the sources of my repeated failures (although I think I will start calling them “practice runs” instead of failures. Sounds so much less…failure-y).

So, I admit it– I’m using you. I’m counting so much on caring about your opinion that I make sure I push myself, just to impress you. I’m so horrified that you think I’m slacking off that I will dig deeper than I ever do when I only have myself to answer to.

I’m trying the one thing I’ve never tried– Looking around and saying, “Hey guys, you know that thing about how I’m fat? I’m totally going to do something about that! Check it out!”

I hope you can forgive me for using you (although I know some of you might like that sort of thing).  I also hope you can let it slide that maybe I’ve played it too cool, and kept some secrets. I just want to make you proud.

Fear, thy name is Kevin.

I bravely reported to my first training session at Anytime Fitness this evening. This is where I am to meet with Kevin The Trainer.  He looks friendly. My first thought after that is, “I didn’t know 15 year olds could get that buff and/or work as Personal Trainers. Does his mom know he’s doing this?”

Obviously he’s a grown up in real life, but exercise and vegetables make me grumpy and sometimes I say unkind things.

Kevin weighs me, measures me, and hands me a device that looks something like a Mario Kart wheel, but instead of a fun game, it just tells me I’m fat.

Next, I step up and down on a stair for 3 minutes, do crunches for a minute, and show Kevin The Trainer how many pushups I can do (as in HAHAHAH PUSHUPS?! aka Zero).

“Great,” he says, “Lets go back to the desk and write down the results for this assessment, then we can start the workout.”

Assessment? START the workout? Kevin, you tricky bastard.

I spend the remainder of the hour being given a workout plan to execute for the next two weeks. He explains everything perfectly, and takes me through the workout. Then he watches my form. This is where I really start to get to know Kevin, as he chats with me (presumably on the pretense of distracting me from this whole sweaty hard work business, which I appreciate fully).

Kevin likes my tattoo. He also likes Pan’s Labyrinth. And Le Mis. He covers thoroughly how impressed he is that Wolverine really has a set of pipes on him.

He waits until I’m lying on the ground, with a swiss ball between my legs, to ask how I’m doing.

“Ugh–<blowing out noise>–this is–<another weird breathing noise I’ve never made before>–it’s really difficult.” I look up at him helplessly. That my face was not immediately a cause for his concern speaks volumes of his mental fortitude.

“Good,” Kevin says casually.

I’m a little afraid of you, Kevin. But I have priorities. I’m going to have to walk, and sit, and use stairs tomorrow, and I’m betting that is going to be pretty scary come morning.

Mayor’s Challenge Introduction

I recently had what is either the second most brilliant idea of my life, or one that will lead to the most humiliating experience ever! I applied and was accepted to be one of the “Mayor’s Picks” for the City of Oak Creek Mayors Fitness Challenge, starting Sept. 7th 2013. To summarize what this means: I am being sponsored by a local gym, and am on a 4 month challenge to get fit, and adapt a super awesome happy joytime nice nice healthy lifestyle! (I’m trying to make it sound really fantastic so I can read this back when I want to eat a whole bag of cheetos.)

I will be blogging, tweeting, throughout, and am sorta accountable now to the whole city! I am already having nightmares about shopping at Woodman’s, and being stopped by a passerby and told, “Hey! I know who you are! Put that down and back away from the ice cream! Run a lap around the store before I tell Mayor Steve on you!”  (Woodman’s is really big too, I don’t think I’d make all the way to produce and back. I might collapse near the candy aisle. Coincidentally, of course.

If you want to learn more about the Challenge, and how you can participate, check this out (You don’t need to be from OC to join) There will be an awesome kickoff event, and lots of free fitness events happening:

City Page:

Facebook Page:

Online Registration:

In case anyone missed it, here is the introduction I submitted when I was posted as one of the Mayor’s Picks:

“Hi, I’m Spring. I talk way too much. I don’t exercise enough. I’ve never met a snack I didn’t like. I’m incredibly nonathletic, and have never been in that blissful utopia the BMI charts call “normal.” I’m 4’11” and the last time I worked up the nerve to weigh myself I was something north of 185. I rewarded my courage with a pizza. My Inner Critic also likes to talk too much, and regularly points out how much I suck at this fitness thing. I’m trying to break up with her, but she hasn’t quite gotten the message yet.

I know I’m not the only one struggling with motivation. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve researched a new diet, planned a new workout routine, signed up for a new gym, or dropped a load of cash on the latest gimmick. Sometimes they work for a little while. Once I lost 50lbs. Recently, I rediscovered it. (I’m still trying to figure out which one of you left that extra 10lbs out for me to find too.) I signed up for this Challenge to reignite my excitement to be healthy and fit, and to be part of a community of people with the same struggles, so we can all encourage and inspire each other (and occasionally talk each other down when candy sounds better than crunches)!”