Sam isn’t sure about personal training but she’s going anyway

Shortly after I bought my first house, the phone rang. It was a salesperson asking if I’d considered “duck cleaning.” I declined his offer of one time free duck cleaning and laughed it off as something rich people must do.

Isn’t it okay if the ducks on the property are dirty? And further, we don’t even have ducks.

Of course it wasn’t duck cleaning at all. It was duct cleaning.

I tell you this story just so you can understand that in my mind there exists a category of actions that fall under the description, “things rich people do.”

And since I live in different financial world than the one I grew I up in, I sometimes struggle with whether these are things I want to do. To be clear, in the world I grew up in mostly people didn’t own houses, let alone houses with ducks. We rented apartments and then rented houses and it wasn’t until I was a teenager that my parents bought their first house.

My world is different. I’m on my second house, soon to buy another, and I got my first pedicure recently. That’s definitely on the “things rich people do” list.

What else is on the list that I haven’t tried? Car detailing. Having more bathrooms in your house than there are bedrooms. Catered dinners. Having clothes made for me. Having my make up done.

But also, there is personal training. It’s something that I sometimes have done but about which I remain ambivalent. I’m conflicted. It’s expensive.

My Y membership costs $50 a month. Personal training costs almost the same per hour. (Okay it’s not that bad. It’s $45 an hour but that goes down to $35 an hour if you book 10 sessions. But still.)

This isn’t my first time paying for personal training. I did way back when, when I started getting fit, at the age of 38, heading into my 40th birthday. That was the year, I lost 60 lbs and worked out a lot. I was triathlon training–running, swimming, and biking. I started weight lifting with a personal trainer named Randy at the Y. He was a big guy and a pretty serious lifter himself. He really enjoyed seeing me get stronger and faster and he liked that I wasn’t just running. Like lots of people who train primarily for strength he had a certain amount of disdain for thin running-only types. He taught me about interval training for speed and showed me how to perform some Olympic lifts. I loved that he taught me how to fail, how to drop weights rather than risk injury, and not worry about the fuss.

After a year or so of working out with Randy at the Y, I felt very much at home in the gym.

I did personal training again the year before my last sabbatical at a small studio close to campus. I wanted to arrive in Australia fast and fit since I was only there for a few months and didn’t want to spend the fist weeks getting into good enough shape to ride with my cycling friends there. But even then I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the choice. I still felt I ought to be able to go it alone.

I’m not claiming any special status to the items on my list of things rich people do. It’s an irrational list. After all, I pay someone else to colour my hair. That’s certainly expensive. I own expensive glasses and shoes. And don’t get me started on my favorite expensive hobby, cycling. There are bikes and shoes and cycling clothing and bike computers. All expensive.

But for some reason paying someone to work out with me feels like a self indulgent luxury. I don’t need someone to rack the weights for me. I don’t need someone to count reps or hand me the bar. In an ideal world, I’d be working with a training partner. But I don’t have that right now. I’d also love to train with a strength training club with a coach. But that’s not easily available. Bottom line is that I hate working out alone.

What do I like about personal training? It’s fun. It’s easy to just show up and have someone else make the plan. No motivation required. In that way it shares features with CrossFit and with the boxing gym. Someone else sets the workout. It also helps that someone else can help me work around my problem knees. It’s not the coaching I object to or the idea of expertise in this area. It’s the one on one part that makes me feel spoiled. Personal training feels halfway between physio and going it alone. Right now, me and me injured knee are happy with personal training.

Why does this make sense for me right now? Well, I’m super busy with work and the new big job. I’m worried about my knee. And I’m not paying for bike coaching at the moment. I’m seeing Tracy’s personal trainer Paul, Definitions Fitness who also works for this blog’s Kim, as well as for lots of other midlife women faculty members. He’s a great guy and I’m getting stronger. I like his focus on strength, not on my weight, and that feels good. I like being pushed to increase weights. He’s got lots of experience and he’s been doing this for years. Also, Paul’s studio is near my house, just 1.6 km away, so I bike there most times. If I was staying in London, I might even look at sharing the time with someone and going more often. It’s all good. It’s an indulgence but right now with all that’s going on, I’m okay with it.

As you can tell from this post, as someone who grew up in one set of financial circumstances but who lives in another, I’m challenged by choices.

I sometimes wonder if I could afford to pay other people to do things in my life, what things would I farm out? Definitely driving. I’d much prefer to be driven. Though, truth be told, I’m also happy biking and in transit. I think I just hate cars. Next up is cooking. I’d love to come home to dinner made for me.

Where does personal training fit on that spectrum for you? I seem to be drawn to it when I’m time crunched or I’ve got a specific goal or problem. Judging by my history I do it every three or four years or so for 6 months to a year. I guess I should be thankful and happy I can do it.

5 thoughts on “Sam isn’t sure about personal training but she’s going anyway

  1. By sheer coincidence, I have also signed up for a personal trainer! I started my sessions in September at Goodlife. We meet twice a week. After 13 sessions, I’m still not sure if it’s for me, but at least it gets me to the gym. I don’t know if I like the idea of “circuit training” and I certainly do not like the nutritional “advice” I get (sugar is toxic, milk is full of hormones, blah blah). It is nice having someone design a workout and getting the weights for you, but that’s about it. After my sessions are over (10 more to go) I think I’ll go back to designing my own workouts.

  2. I love having a trainer. I have mobility issues, and my trainer has been really working with me on those so I can move better and be stronger. I also do CrossFit classes and Olympic Lifting with a Coach. I enjoy all three, honestly. But I got to them with different goals. My trainer has knowledge I don’t – like how to build strength with my issues. He can also watch me and help me learn good form so I don’t risk injury. He gives me progressions that I couldn’t come up with on my own. He also tracks my progress – I can’t always see it and would become frustrated otherwise, but he keeps me mindful of progress of made and where I am on my goals. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s one of my few indulgences and if it helps keep moving, I’m all for it.

  3. How funny you should post this. For the first time in 40 years, I’ve been contemplating personal training. In my case, it’s because of some arthritis issues I’m dealing with. I’ve lost some mobility in my right arm and even if I can’t have it back 100%, I’d love a little back. But…..I think I might need more of a physical therapist /trainer as opposed to your standard gym trainer and I’m not sure I can afford it. I mean, I could, but something else will be sacrificed. It’s funny you mention a list of things rich people do. I have that too. For me, it’s paying to have any house are services done. Maid, Gardner…but, lots of people have that that aren’t necessarily “rich”. But those things seem decadent to me.

  4. I’ve never used a personal trainer.
    If a person could afford it for short-term jump-start advice and planning to do certain exercises/sports in a safer way with useful tips. The trick is to find one that is good in terms of what they advise and how their motivation techniques jives with a trainee’s personality.

    I prefer a course with a good/skilled instructor since one gets to share experiences with others. But that’s not possible because of scheduling conflicts, etc. I have taken 2 courses (only) in the past 30 years — tai chi, combined yoga-pilates. Both helped give ideas for certain exercises to practice ….for life.

    I have in the past spent money on bikes, clothing, etc. So I’m well-supplied and don’t need to spend much annually anymore. 🙂 It’s been put to good frequent use over the decades.

    As for the guilt re “rich”, etc.: best I can do is to advise others in a less barrier-prone way: focus on bike fit, making sure all parts work, saddle is comfortable (or change it) and to heck, with bike jacket. Just have a bike helmet. Over focus on expensive cycling clothing is a barrier to newbies and low income. That’s the newest mantra among cycling advocates in North America. Otherwise Canada and U.S. cannot grow cycling mode share like Europe.

Comments are closed.