Getting over personal trainer-phobia

by Rob Tiller

Although I’ve worked out at various gyms over the years, I haven’t had a personal trainer — until now. My reasoning was that exercising isn’t all that complicated, and if I couldn’t figure out how to do something by myself I wouldn’t care to admit it. Some people seemed to find trainers helpful in getting motivated, but I didn’t really have a problem motivating myself. But I recently was got over my trainer-phobia, and it made me reflect on the value of good teachers.

To state the obvious, staying reasonably fit is a good idea for a lot of reasons: feel better, get sick less, look better, think more clearly, live longer, etc. But it isn’t so easy. It takes persistent, continuous effort. It’s a challenge to find the necessary time (early mornings work for me) and to find ways of moving that you enjoy. But over time, it can get to be a habit.

At that point, there’s a different kind of problem. Doing the same thing over and over gets boring, and also at a certain point stops producing improvements. You need to change things up now and again. So staying fit takes some creativity and a willingness to try new things. In recent times, I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone by exploring yoga, and more recently got an introduction to the Pilates system. My teacher, Julee, recently left to go to med school, but not before reminding me of the value of having a guide in a new area.

In domains other than fitness, I already knew this. Learning new things is wonderful. Through trying to teach myself about things as diverse as science, music, and various languages, I’ve come to the general view that the best way to learn a new thing is to find a good teacher. It isn’t the only way, but it’s the most efficient and fun, and so the one most likely to succeed. A good teacher knows the ultimate goal, but also the interim levels, and taking into account your particular strengths and weaknesses, she will propose various possible ways for you to get to the next level. She guides you past blind alleys and hazards. You waste less time, and make faster progress. This makes it less likely you will give up. You work harder when someone else challenges you. You want to acquire the skill, but you also want to please your teacher. And if you’re fortunate, you and your teacher will form a meaningful human connection.

Anyhow, Julee’s departure, though sad for me, made me think about other things that I might like to try. My yoga teachers at Blue Lotus directed me towards Studio Revolution, just a few doors down the street. And so it was that I began working once a week on functional and TRX training with Larisa. We’re doing lots of variations on lunges, bends, twists, and squats, pulling against cords, moving sand bags, throwing heavy balls, and other tools for increasing core strength. She has introduced me to foam rollers. Larisa’s also making me conscious of which muscles are working in various movements, and which ones aren’t. I’m meeting some parts of my own body for the first time.