Training #7 – LOTS of fun, new exercises

When M was still driving a truck and first got assigned to his Oakland-Las Vegas route he would spend his weekend layovers in Las Vegas exploring the strip. He’d walk up and back stopping in at various casinos and then telling me about the different food courts, buffets, shops, attractions. By the time I actually went with him on the truck for the week between Christmas and New Years, I felt as if I knew most of the attractions already.

There was one little satellite of Circus Circus called Slots of Fun. It was a campy little outlet with circus themes and junky food, including cotton candy, corn dogs, and their specialty – a foot-long hotdog that M advanced warned me I would not like (like so many things in the food realm, I am extremely picky about hotdogs if and when I indulge). It was campy yet charming to me, and I was sad when it was shuttered and reopened as something else a couple years later. For that first year, though, Slots of Fun encapsulated and represented the benign, non-drinking, non-gambling fun we had in Las Vegas.

Driving home from the gym this morning made me think of that. Monday morning, so it’s training day with J, and a new routine. Based on my weekend and outlook last night, foregoing additional review sounded fine right now. I can always change my mind at any point and request a review session. Even with the new challenges and the peppier pacing in the second half, I enjoyed the session. The negative girl inside my head whispers that I’m doing something wrong, not working hard enough, that it’s not supposed to be fun. I am ignoring her and going with the new attitude and flow of my thinking.

Today’s list:

TRX ham curls (3 sets of 12-20 per)
TRX skater squat (3 sets of 8-10 per side)
Offset 1-arm, 1-leg Romanian dead lift (3 sets of 8-10 per side)
Band hip rotation (Contreras variation) (3 sets of 8-10 per side)

Bent over batwing rows (20 lb.)
Pullover (25 lb.)
Alternating chest press (20 lb., 15 lb.)
Alternating bicep curls (12 lb.)
Laying triceps extensions (10 lb.)

Today was a little variation on what we usually do, in that this is like one series followed by one big giant exercise done briskly (putting it lightly).

The TRX stuff is challenging, but then again, anything that requires me to stand on one foot is challenging from inception. It surprised the heck of me that I took to it as well as I did and without (much) angst, drama, or pained facial expressions. The ham curls are possibly the worst for the silliest of reasons – getting my feet/heels secured into those TRX straps. From there the elevating hips and bending knees up and down is no picnic, but it also did not freak me out like it might have a few weeks ago. Mostly it was different than other hamstring work we have done to date, and mostly I am intrigued and kind of curious and eager to try it again. At the time we were going through this, I was not 100% sure I was feeling it in the hamstrings the way I was supposed to feel it in the hamstrings. But I can say a few hours later, I can feel my hamstrings. Not chattering loudly, more like I have been working them this morning. It is just so different than other work we have done in this area to date.

The TRX skater squat and the offset 1-arm, 1-leg Romanian dead lift are challenging – the single leg balance remains an ongoing work-in-progress. But again to my great surprise, it was not nearly as bad as I expected. After doing Bulgarian split squats with an elevated back foot, I was better prepared for what I should be feeling where. Probably more than anything else, these 2 new exercises remind me of how far I have come. While I still require the TRX straps or stanchion for balance, it is primarily after fatiguing that I really have to struggle mightily to remain upright on a single foot.

I have come a long way, baby.

The band rotation seems like it should be so simple, yet I think it is the most perplexing of everything we did today. I do not feel as if I achieved my aha! moment with it the way I did with the other things, so I will have to really focus on it in practice the next few days. I could feel it in my obliques and glutes where indicated I should, but thinking about it now it is sort of blurry and fuzzy and not completely clear how I should feel. Practicing tomorrow will tell if I got it or not; if J’s phone spontaneously combusts tomorrow we will all know that this exercise did not sink in as it should.

The dumbbell portion of today’s program was run like a single giant exercise all smooshed together. The pacing was brisk, but I am rather proud of myself for keeping up and getting it done in pretty good form. J’s latest trick – the alternating arms – is very slick. It took what is typically a fairly routine chest press and turned it into something else entirely. But, and I cannot believe I see myself typing this, I really liked it. It was stuff I know, he showed me how to keep the dumbbells organized and at the ready to deploy quickly and efficiently, and I actually got through it with just a minor hiccup with the weights I was using. During the second set of the alternating chest press, my arm just decided 5 was enough with a 20 lb. DB, so I had to switch to a 15 lb. DB to complete it. Not a big deal to me; my ego is not engaged to the point I feel crushed or disappointed for my muscle fatiguing. In fact, it was a good experience to have, and reminded me to ask about whether it was better to start with the heavier weight and step down if needed or start lighter and step-up with each set (heavier then step down if needed, FYI).

So that was today’s training, and it was … well, it was LOTS of fun. So much so I am very excited about tomorrow and getting to try it again to see how all the moving pieces work on my own and fill-in the blanks where I have wonderings and thoughts that maybe I missed something the first times through. I hesitate to say that out loud much less here in print, because J’s training brain will start scurrying in search of something sucky to add to make things more challenging. But as we say, it is what it is.

An interesting exchange today, whereas J was confessing to agonizing over the new exercises and whether or not to add them. Let’s face it – balance issues do still tend to freak me out. Again, surprising myself, I was actually quite serene about the whole process. If he felt I was not yet ready and wanted to take them back, I was fine with it. Whereas even a month ago I probably would have had something akin to an obsessive meltdown about failure and inferiority and fretted mightily about getting fired as a client, today that part of my ego and self-consciousness about my inability seem to have exited our training sessions and the gym. Leave it on the list and I will try hard to learn and master the technique and form, or take it off the list for this week and we can revisit at some later date. Progress.

I believe the truth is I am now walking the walk about trusting J’s judgment in such matters; my belief in myself and our training partnership (as I refer to it) grows stronger with each passing week. If either of us was the weak link in it up to this point, it was me. I lack(ed) faith in my ability to acquire and build upon the skills J is teaching me and am slowly allowing hope to color my view that I will get there … wherever “there” actually is today on my horizon. Someday hope will be replaced with confidence, but I have no desire to push forward and get ahead of myself. I am happy and feeling sure-footed where I stand right now.

It was curious and endearing the way he put it. He noted I have crossed the line to his side of the coin, and if there was a caricature to display it, there would be the “give a shit” side and the “don’t give a shit” side. Which made me smile and made me think as well. Blog fodder at its finest.

I do not for a minute believe J does not give a shit about my progress or others in his stable of member clients, and it is more than likely that was not how he meant the comment. Knowing him, it’s more like training plans are written in pencil and meant to be edited, in the moment or into the future; there is no failure here if exercises are pulled back and away for now.

However, my brain processed it as a comment on progress, so that is how it gets written about here in all it overthinking glory. And there is a relevant point, too, other than my own verbosity in this post.

Lately here I am trying to ease away from comparisons with others in all things. But using training as an example, if I do not allow myself to think I am anything special as a client, that everyone else is doing their best based on their abilities and the circumstances of the rest of their lives, I have no capability to fall short of any expectations. That said, based on my own experiences as applied to situations like these, I do feel there is a gradient scale in that how those unexpressed expectations and interest in a client’s overall program. My thought is trainer enthusiasm is based a lot on the feedback and interaction and effort during and between sessions, yet I am absolutely sure we all get the same level of his best professional knowledge and judgment in writing and teaching routines. Not because I have any great insight into J’s or any other trainer’s mind and emotional state with regard to their jobs. I base that assessment on my observations of professionalism as well as my personal bias and experience in professional services consulting. While I could be completely full of shit on this observation, I doubt I am that far off the mark.

In my case and work, there are a couple of clients I will do just about anything within the legal boundaries of the law, because they are good, active, responsible, and responsive clients. With these clients ours is a professional partnership, where they tell me what they want, where they want to go financially, and I help them figure out how to make it happen. My A-list clients are those that really want to stay on top on their books even when they resent the regulatory compliance issues to continue doing business. When problems arise, they tend to respond to my requests for information and documents in a timely manner and be proactive about what can be done to avoid similar issues in the future. Our relationship is based on mutual respect, plus I really like working with them. The work itself may be the most routine, boring thing I will do this week, but my appreciation for the client and his/her efforts to ensure my work on their behalf goes smoothly is pretty rare. These clients, I genuinely care about their business and will put forth every effort to ensure they succeed.

Then there are those who seem to be very cavalier and not very serious about staying in business except as it benefits their personal bottom line. Compliance with regulatory filings is more my problem than theirs, and their only concern with their business’ financial health is how little they can expend to increase their profits. They are consistently late with their information and expect me to perform miracles after their extended procrastination. These clients are necessary but a pain to deal with and would be cut immediately if I had better opportunities to replace them. Every time they drop some bomb in my lap to diffuse with 24 hours remaining to respond and then do not answer the phone, reply to my emails, I remind myself they pay their invoices on time every single month. These clients are the first rates I will raise when the need arises. These are clients do not seem to care, therefore I find it difficult to muster any genuine enthusiasm for their work or their problems (usually of their own making) that are sure to arise. I cannot bring myself to completely not care about them or their business, because most I actually like very much as people and really want them to succeed, but their attitudes do tend to become an ongoing source of irritation I frequently want to avoid and ignore.

So for me, when I thought I might fall through the floor into second class training client status, I stepped up my game and got serious about regular, consistent practice. I was sort of scared straight. Periodically I overhear J working with another client and encouraging them to practice on their own, and it practically sends shivers of old anxiety down my spine. While I know J would not fire me (or anyone else) for failure to practice between sessions, I know how I think and I would not want to be seen that way by anyone I respect and admire.

Hard to believe it has been just over 3 months since that particular epiphany. I mean, really, who does not wish to be on an A-list when it really matters? Maybe the epiphany was that it did/does really matter to me.

From just that short time ago, it was impossible to imagine looking forward to tomorrow and trying this new List out on my own.

For today, though, I am in a happy place with exercise. M does not completely get my enthusiasm with gym training – he’d much rather be out on a trail somewhere – but he is delighted to see me so engaged and enthusiastic about my new-found skills. Other friends are still struggling to understand what has happened to me, where the “old” me that would eat, drink, be merry, and bemoan the idea of exercising … where has she gone? A thorny problem, one that requires some kind and thoughtful thinking to address directly in the future.

So yes, lots of progress today.

I am also working on a follow-up to unexpected consequences and response to yesterday’s post (see here) and will hopefully have that up soon as well.

2 thoughts on “Training #7 – LOTS of fun, new exercises

  1. This: “I believe the truth is I am now walking the walk about trusting J’s judgment in such matters” – so very true and good for you!
    I believe that a major part of my success to date is that I decided to trust D – that he is an expert and if he thinks I can do something – I should ignore myself and do as he says. I would never be where I am today if I hadn’t done that.

    • I hear ya, and you’re in a fabulously great place today. Funny, but I thought things were going so swimmingly, strings of great days where I felt good and happy and confident and making progress. The wham! Blown from the water by others in my midst.

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