Thursday morning and training with J, the last before he leaves on a well-deserved week of vacation/time away from the gym. Hence the title. No, he is not firing me nor am I firing him. Vacation happens, and mine is coming up next month as well. If I have anxiety about anything, it’s my own vacation and being absent from my home gym for a week. But that’s another post for the future.
For next week, I have known for at least a couple of months that he would be away and have had time to let mind adjust and craft a plan for the 2 extra practice days. In chatting with another member I see almost every week, she was saying that when her trainer went on vacation for 2 weeks she also did not work out during that time. Gave me cold and clammy kind of chills, imagining what sort of terrible shape I would be in after sitting around and not going to the gym for 2 weeks if J were absent that long. It would be so painful to get started all over again. I absolutely believe J would be able to tell I’d been slacking, if I just did not come right out and say so, which is far more likely. It is not something I am likely to pursue – I am far too invested now in my practice and training to let it go without really good reason – so it’s a moot point. But still. Just thinking about it causes quivers of anxiety.
Last week there was an unpublished comment stating that I had the luxury of personal training and that working with trainer J was more like the equivalent of status and arm candy than actually seriously exercising or working out. Because I consistently describe our sessions as fun. While I did not publish the comment, it stuck in my mind and has probably received a lot more thought and attention than it deserves, but oh well. Everyone has the right to their opinions, and on my blog I am the decider about whether or not those comments get published. It did not make the cut. Not because of the opinion, but because it contained other uncalled for rudeness that I simply don’t tolerate.
As to whether or not my fun-filled training sessions are effective, I would say anyone who thinks they are easy-peasy at my level of experience should test drive them on their own and then come back and tell me what a pansy I am right now. J is fabulous company; he’s an interesting conversationalist and someone I am perfectly comfortable discussing anything and everything. That in itself is a rare gift, one worthy of the training session fee. However, if I were some sort of naturally gifted athlete who could just divine how to do things safely and sanely on my own, yeah, hiring a training might be all about my ego and the cachet of saying I have a personal trainer. Since I am not naturally gifted at anything (or at least, nothing I have discovered thus far), I know J is not standing around coaching or teaching me how to exercise to feed my ego. Yes, we have a lot of fun. But by the end of our hour or time, I’m pleasantly buzzed on muscle fatigue and all that goes with it. I may be walking out of the gym with a big happy smile on my face, but anymore this is perfectly normal behavior for me 6 days out of 7, and on the seventh day I go to pilates and leave the studio with the same big happy smile.
I judge the effectiveness of a List by the impact it has on me when practicing on my own. Sometimes I struggle with weights that seemed easier in training itself. Sometimes I struggle remembering the cues and fine details of an exercise. And sometimes I hit my stride and have this absolutely AWESOME experience and feel all endorphinated from the practice and my potential for being an evolving badass in the gym. Is it easy? No, not by any stretch. We were doing one-arm rows this morning, a staple, and I have kind of drifted off the reservation and had to be reeled back in to proper form. Mind is influenced by what it sees others doing, and it adopts bad habits and repeats them later. Sometimes I catch myself and self-correct, but more often than not it’s J who will have the trainer eye with its laser focus recognizing the issue and taking steps to correct the problem before it becomes a bad habit that must be broken.
Yesterday I repeated Monday’s review day. It was fine, went well, but it was a lunge-heavy list and I dislike lunges. I also found myself wondering what to do with the little rest times between exercises, if I were “resting” correctly or too long or long enough. Most of my Lists have other fillers and things to do between the bigger things, and standing around or walking around between sets feels abnormal and very mildly anxiety-inducing. I like days like today much better, when we do something with the weight machines or with a set of dumbbells, then we pick up a stretchy band and do something else. This is what I am accustomed to, simply because J has taught me and trained mind and body to be moving with purpose at something all the time, so it just feels more natural and appropriate. Trust me, I’m not running amok like the Energizer Bunny on steroids and am utilizing the rest pauses as feels necessary and appropriate (or just because brain says “let’s rest, just because”), but the built-in rest between sets bewilders me. It’s just new; I will adjust and adapt.
And the calluses on my hands? I thought there was one on my finger that looked like it was turning into a blister, but no, just callus enlargement project under construction. I am ridiculously proud of these little tokens of my gym effort. Some girls go gaga over their nails, I’m showing M my calluses every week. He nods and smiles indulgently; it’s the little things.
Anyway, today was the last (maybe) of our Dr. Spencer routines review days. Today was back/biceps/abs, and we did:
A1. Wide or Narrow Grip Front Lat Pulldown (80 lbs., 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
A2. Band Rear Delt Pull-Aparts (green band, 3 sets, 10-15 reps)
B1. Cable Seated Row (unknown, 4 sets, 8-12 reps)
B2. Band Biceps Curl (green band, 3 sets, MAX)
C1. 1-arm DB Row (25 lb., 4 sets, 8-12/side)
C2. Alt Archer Row (red band, 3 sets, MAX)
D1. DB Pullovers (3 set, 25 lb., 8-12 reps)
D2. 1-arm Zottman Curls (12 lb. DBs, 3 sets, 8-12/side)
E1. Rope Facepull (unknown, 3 sets, 8-12)
E2. Speed Squat to Row (red band, 3 sets, MAX)
It was gloriously fun. And no, as professionally
cute attractive as trainer J is in all his red-shirted glory, I do not feel any more important or prestigious or my ego inflated because he is working with me. I have definitely graduated from feeling like the special needs member because I’m clueless about how to use most of the equipment in the gym, but that’s just 15 months of steady training and 10 months of consistent practice talking. It’s my regular Thursday gig – go to the gym, train with J, have fun and have a fantastic rest of the day. Tomorrow I will be back at the gym, List of the day in hand, and pursuing a big exercise fun on my own, and having another fantastic rest of the day no matter how train-wreck it may actually be in terms of events. Likely I will pass J and the another training tribe member and say hello, wave goodbye, whatever, and I still will not feel any more important, prestigious, or ego-boosted for it. However, I will go away feeling really good, endorphinated, and happy for putting body through it’s paces on List of the day. I will be thinking about what the exercises felt like, where I still need work and practice, or maybe it is time to try a heavier weight or another color of stretchy band. Because I do this 6 days per week and have the same thoughts most on my days in the gym.
The last time couple of times we have done this List we have used a long bar for a wide grip, but today we did the narrow grip front lat pulldown. I am kind of surprised at the difference in feel from the wide to the narrow; I had not anticipated being able to discern anything from wide grip to narrow grip. But sitting at my desk a few hours later and writing this recap, I now want to go back and try both one after the other and compare. Since J switched the order around since last time, that too could impact my perception.
The band rear delt pull-aparts are a standard. I use these in my warm-ups now, because the stretch just feels so darn good! I need to try and cement the muscle group name in my mind – I keep referring to it as the “round thing at the top of my arm.” Which makes me sound like an idiot, but oh well. M is typically the only one who hears me say it that way most of the time and he corrects me, but I’m usually so excited to be showing him some new little crease that I mentally round file it the second he says it.
Cable seated row are still sort of mystifying, but I am learning. Using an indoor rower for as long as I have, I keep waiting for the seat to move and having to adjust my position on the bench to ensure I am in the right place and feeling the right muscles working. Lean forward, pull back, chest up, etc.
Band biceps curl are another thing I do warming up, but it’s different when they are part of a List. Don’t ask me why, or how, it just is one of those feeling things. I am not a huge fan of bicep curls of any stripe, but I do them because they have purpose and do good things for my arms. That’s about the sum total of my thoughts on the subject. But maybe it’s time for me to advance to the red bands on these as well.
So the 1-arm dumbbell row is a standard; we have done these for months and months. Somehow in the last month I have wandered off the reservation and am so glad we did a review today. First, I always want to pick up the dumbbell with the wrong hand. Second, I was not hefting it upward enough. Seems like the last time I did these I observed a much bulkier person doing them as well and not pulling them all the way up the way J has taught me, and the message must have gotten stuck in my mind. Either that or my busy work schedule has turned mind and memory to mush. I seem to be back on track now, though, and will reinforce the next couple of days.
The archer rows are one of my current favorites. I have done band rows, TRX rows, cable machine rows, cable rows on the cable row machine, and I still think the archers are my favorite. Upgrading to the red band (yellow, green, red, blue from lightest to heaviest) is my latest achievement. But I like the basic movement pattern with pulling with arms and stepping with feet along with the peppy pacing.
The dumbbell pullovers are another standard, and yet today, when J was demonstrating them to me this morning, I totally thought we were doing the standing up version of a french press only lying down. Which is basically what the pullover is, but my brain completely blanked out on ever seeing them before, much less actually doing them. As soon as I got the dumbbell into my hands and doing the exercise, it all came back to me. How long has it been since I have done one of my dumbbell routines? Apparently being so busy has turned my exercise memory into swiss cheese.
Then we come to the 1-arm Zottman curls. These looked vaguely familiar, but again, it has apparently been awhile or work has hollowed out my memory. I have already warned M and everyone else that if I show up with bruises on my chin, it will be evidence that I have been doing Zottman curls. It seems to be so easy to slip and bang myself in the face with a dumbbell.
From the big boy room we wandered over to the cable machine and did rope facepulls. These are an ongoing challenge for me, another of those furrowed brow exercises that seem to linger into perpetuity. But oh well. I am getting better every time we have a review day that includes them.
The speed squat to row is another one of those super-charge-the-cardio exercises. Not that the speed in this is anything to write home about, especially at the end of this workout, but I think with some practice I will step it up. Either way, I find this one is another of those where body knows and does not depend upon mind to read off the directions.
So with all that fun done, I get home to find M and friend J skyping, as they do a few times each month, typically when I am away from home at work. But this time I got to say hi, and show off the round part at the top of my arms and the little creases in my shoulders. I happened to be wearing a tank top to the gym today so it was really cool to show off just a little to friend J. Plus he said I looked good, which thrills me to no end because I know he never says anything to me he doesn’t mean. I overhead M telling J that “this is what he hears at least a few times per week.” At least M says that with a smile in his voice; he’s pretty proud of me and my exercise efforts.
On the diet front, in some post this week I alluded to my being dumped from the healthy eating wagon in the busy work month. It’s nothing egregious – I was not working 14 hours a day fueled by bags of m&m’s and washing them with cans of coke and then spending quality time with pints of Hagen Daz. When I am monitoring my eating more carefully, it mostly means I have stay away from most cheese, dairy products, and superfluous carbohydrates and load up on protein sources, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Yet in the last few weeks I have eaten a fair number of meat and cheese sandwiches, pasta, chinese food, etc. These are my favorite convenience and junk food things I have avoided eating much of the time since I started down the healthier diet road.
But my high stress, high carb eating madness is not permanent. I’m slowly, surely migrating back to my protein and vegetables and fruit eating program. The biggest obstacle for me is planning and preparation, something that gets completely throw under the bus in favor of sleep and training/practices and August’s cardio challenge. I am starting next week’s meal planning now, with an eye toward grocery shopping and bulk cooking this weekend to make things easier for me. I thought today would again be a eat on the run day, but M thoughtfully made my lunch and packed a protein shake for mid-afternoon snack so I could make it to the pilates class tonight. It was a little bit of work – cleaning and packaging my strawberries, making the chicken salad mix I like, putting the crackers I like to eat with the chicken salad into a baggie.
I got the update on the woman who hurt her knee last week – she apparently tore something in there and had to have surgery to repair it and will be out several weeks. My worst burpee nightmare come true, so I remain an inch worm queen instead.
All in all, a really fun, productive, peaceful sort of day. Training was great, work was good, pilates on a Thursday turned out to be busier than I anticipated but I still had plenty of space between me and the people on either side of me. And no one hurt themselves, probably the best part.
This diet and exercise thing is complicated, for sure. Especially the eating part. It’s just so easy to get distracted with work or other aspects of life and backslide into habits of convenience that are like kryptonite to a diabetic. But my numbers are holding steady and I feel good about the way I’m managing my better health quest.
I am not sure about how the diet and exercise will ultimately help me look good or better, but since that’s never been a priority or a focus, it will be one of the pleasant surprises should the superficial aspects of a healthier lifestyle become a thing for me. What remains important and the highest priority for me – improving my overall health – remains in good working order.
The better looking shoulders? Pure gravy.