Tag Archives: lift

Clientology: A Top 10

There are a few clients on my roster that I would like to drop for a small selection of reasons. Not to be rude but as with all public service jobs, the people will make or break it. On a good day, personal training can be great, but on a bad day it can be 12 hours of listening to people complain and argue with you.
Lucky for you, I have made a list of the top ten things that will anger your trainer and you should probably avoid all things on this list at all times. Or find a new trainer.

1. “Oh no, the physics is all wrong”.
Do not pay me to train you and then tell me that I don’t know what is best for you. One of my clients in her 70s refuses to do Lat Pull Downs because “the physics and angles are wrong”. I kindly reminded her that I was there to teach her how to properly use the equipment, followed by a 15 minute scientific explanation and demonstration. She began but then decided half a rep in with a dramatic sigh of disgust that indeed, no, this was not a biomechanically appropriate exercise for any human. Another elderly client rules out step ups because she has stairs in her home and could do them on her own.
Me: “So, do you do step ups on your own?”
Client: “Well, I could.”
And hypothetically, you could be fit, too.

2. “That WAS 12”.
Do not count. Me trainer. You client. You do the exercises and don’t tell me my count is wrong because it isn’t. If our counts are different and you choose yours over mine I am instantly enraged and in return I will no longer laugh at your jokes this session. My job is to count over and over and over again. While you are working out I am involuntarily counting everyone’s reps because I can’t turn it off. I have caught myself counting breaths, counting steps, and counting other people’s reps by accident. I can tell you stories, respond to your questions, and cue you meanwhile I actually cannot lose count if I tried. Nothing makes me angrier than a client finishing three reps short and telling me I can’t count to 12. I am literally standing and counting to 12.

3. “My son can deadlift more than some NHL guys”.
Well it’s too bad you aren’t as strong as your son. How about you start working out and then you can brag about how much you lift.
After being told this exact line every time we did deadlifts I snapped at my client that it was too bad the NHL wasn’t a deadlift competition. I don’t care if you know someone who is strong because it does not make you stronger by association. I spend as much time in the gym as I do in my house, please don’t think I haven’t seen some people lift heavy things.

4. “Can you lift this?”
Do not ask me if I can do your workout. I made your workout.
When clients ask me if I can lift as much as them or if I could do their workouts I want to straight up tell them it is too stupid of a question to answer. Unless we are the same age and gender, with the same background, injuries, and trying to reach the same goals, these questions (and answers) are pointless. These questions always come from the guys that just want a big pat on the back, so don’t make me embarrass you and just ask me how it looks. Yes I see you lifting heavy things, I was the one who taught you.

5. “Sorry I’m late, you can still do a full hour, right?”
No. Don’t show up late and think I won’t make you regret your life choices.
Yesterday a client was running late, then got caught in traffic and showed up 15 minutes before the end of the session. I’m not kidding. No we can’t do an hour now because you paid me to watch TSN for 45 minutes. 15 minutes later he had sweat dripping off his nose and was laying in the corner.
Come on time.

6. “But this is haaaarrrrrrd”.
Yes I know.
I push myself harder than I push most of my clients so it gets hard to listen to someone who spent their life getting fat complain about how hard it is to sit on a bench and stand up again. I love people changing their lifestyles for the better and it is a process, but please don’t cry your way through it.  This is a waste of both our time, but mostly it is beyond boring for me to watch you sit on a bench and whimper. It is extremely painful for me to try to motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. And TSN is on the TV behind you. You do not want to make me choose where to focus my attention.

7. This is not therapy.
When I ask you to move heavy things I don’t mean put your emotional baggage on my back.
I have a degree in Kinesiology and no I don’t know what you should do about your bad decision making and poor life choices. My clipboard is for tracking your sets and reps, not your emotions. Please don’t use your session to tell me every shockingly intimate detail about your life; sometimes exercise can help you de-stress HINT HINT. I’m flattered you want to confide in me but I’ll pass.

8. I did not make you fat but I would like to help you.
Do not blame me when you don’t lose weight instantly because you did one workout then you pounded back beers and wings all weekend. This is a team effort but I am not your babysitter, I am not your mother, and I did not force feed you for the first 40 years of your life. You should consider that I see you 2-3 hours out of the 168 hours in a week. No matter how good a trainer is, they cannot account for the other 165 hours a week you aren’t with them.

9. Accept critique.
Or tell me in advance you have paid me to high five you and tell you that you are perfect the way you are.
I let a client do an entire disaster workout (not to the point he would get hurt) because he came in to train in an aggressively terrible mood, and he took my form cues as a personal attack. One rep in I told him to make a change to which he got mad and said I didn’t even give him a chance to do it right. A second identically terrible rep followed, then a defiant “OKAYYY?!” accompanying more incorrect reps. It is mind blowing how much money people spend to ignore me.

10. “But my friend says this way is best”.
Oh your friend sounds qualified. This isn’t NASA but I did a four year Honors Specialization degree and your friend ripped the workout page out of a Cosmo. This goes back to my point to let me do the job you are paying me to do.

I bet my clients could come up with a good list of their top 10 pet peeves about me… 🙂

 

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Ch-ch-changes

The worst thing we can do to ourselves is get too comfortable. Despite my lack of philosophical insight or all-knowing wisdom, I speak based on experience.

We underestimate our capabilities and overestimate how ideal repetition seems to be. I doubt that anyone laying on their death bed would say, “I regret all those times I tried something new”. It is hard to look back on a year, month, or even a week, and feel like your feet are in the same place wearing down footprints in the ground. Our footprints should be spaced far and barely leaving a mark before the next one is planted.

Today, D and I worked out at a different gym. New faces, new equipment, completely different atmosphere, and most importantly- new people to race on the treadmills. Even though we are going from one gym to another gym, it allows enough fresh air and change of scenery to clear your mind. Because nothing clears your mind like body odor and the sound of weights crashing, am I right?

This was a great time in discomfort, just in a small scale, one day type way. Finding new things, trying new things, and accommodating this with strangers’ schedules are all things that should happen daily. I found it really surprising that even as a trainer, I was intimidated at times. Maybe it was because I spent a lot of time wandering to see where everything was or maybe it was because I was the only female not doing cardio. I ended up doing deadlifts just right in the middle of the gym since the racks were taken and I wasn’t sure where to go to be out of the way.

As a bonus, today was the first day I saw what happens when steroids go bad but that is a whole other story.

This is about more than just fitness.

I am itching to be uncomfortable.

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Gravity

Gravity goes sideways in the gym.

It is like I can’t control my head cocking to the side when I see some people working out.

Everyone starts somewhere, as my mom and I were just discussing. You just can’t know how to do something when you first start, it is that simple and that difficult. People stroll from one machine to the next, casually looking at the pictures and doing just enough reps to not get too tired.

Just like gravity, there are certain things you can always count on in the gym…

It is leg day and there are two squats racks. One will have several times your body weight in plates loaded onto the bar. Sometimes the person here can actually squat it but probably not. Either way, you can’t work in because the workout will be changing the plates. The other squat rack: someone curling the barbell. This gives me a Hulk-esque rage but unfortunately not the strength (which I would use to remove this person from the squat rack).

If you know what you’re doing (or if you look like you do) someone will follow your routine right behind you. This always makes me want to throw a bunch of handles behind me in a trail to throw them off. With my business card mixed in. They will always catch up to you and it will be awkward. Just get a trainer.

The talker. Every gym has one. This person has no concept of time or social cues and they thrive on those who are in a rush. Three seconds to go on your rest break? All of a sudden the talker is between you and your weights telling you about his trip to the planetarium six years ago.

We all know the guy you can hear before you can see him. He will take all of the plates in the gym to load up a barbell and be as physically loud as possible while he pounds out two reps within one quarter of his range of motion. Grand finale to follow with a smashing of the weight and a final scream,  followed by fifteen minutes of “recovery”. He earned it, just ask him.

My favourite is after work when people who aren’t really done work rush to the gym. Benches become offices as cell phones go off but there is no working in because obviously this bench is in use. How dare you interrupt a meeting.

chestday

This list needs to mention the hunter- gatherer. This unsuspecting exerciser appears whenever it is busy or just whenever you need something. They will claim everything that is available no matter whether they can use it or not and sharing is not an option. If you ask to work in with something in their pile: “just twenty more minutes, bro”.

There are three of you in the change room. Your lockers will all be in a row. No exceptions.

No matter the distractions, they all turn into stories to share later once the rage passes.

Did I miss anything?

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Fixed with a Flex

Today my weight was down half a pound. Not really a big deal, but that in combination with having a week that made me zombie-esque tired, I took the day off from working out. Things are still going well considering my weight is still up from the start of this week but I need to pack down some more calories before I start lifting heavy things against gravity again.

If you had told me a year ago that I would excitedly be sharing my weight gains with strangers, I would have thought that was crazy. I do like to affectionately call my blog followers my imaginary friends, so maybe I do have a little streak of weird.

I am now tracking my weight and workouts to a degree that some may have described as “obsessive”, to which I give a big thumbs up and then I flex. Next you can listen to me list a million things worse that I could be obsessed with.

While working out yesterday, D and I were getting all sorts of looks. Some were rude, and some were confused, but all felt like a really big compliment to the effort we were putting in. He said he felt like barfing, and I was holding on to machines to stay upright between my last sets while the gym- goers surrounding us were using the machines as theatre chairs, probably betting on me to go down first. I have found that in some cases, there is no bigger compliment than a dirty look. Take it in stride, and keep going. Then flex at them. After all, you don’t have success if you don’t have critics.

Ah, yes… reading that last paragraph back I now understand the obsessed descriptor.

Also, don’t bet against me.

Let me add in a very important point here: pushing to failure is a phase. When done right, these workouts are very draining, especially on the Central Nervous System and I don’t encourage this as a permanent method of training. As long as that is clear, I would like to add that there are few feelings that match the rush of knowing you worked as hard as you could, without peeing your pants.

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Tomorrow is a new day, another workout, and a chance to reach a new high. If you haven’t ever had the borderline-wet-your-pants-in-the-gym feeling then I strongly urge you to go for it, but in a safe way. Not safe like wearing Depends, but safe like working out properly. Get yourself a trainer or shoot me a message. Let’s squat and trot together, friends.

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Haaayyy Girrrrrl

Some people may say that my standards are high but I just know what I like.

I don’t need a Schwarzenegger, but I like to be the girl in the relationship. So naturally, you would think, I could find all the macho men I could ever want in a gym. Not the case, as I am consistently only approached by the guys who gave up on the grocery store and decided to use their gym memberships to test pick-up lines. Why me? Not sure. Can anyone answer this. No, really.

Picking up in a gym is actually hard to do despite how often people practise. For the most part guys get their adrenaline pumping and get all hot to trot but then girls don’t want to be approached when they are looking their “worst”. That is subjective, and also off track. It is surprising how often I get to watch attempted date invites go awry and so I am going to clear up the basics here.

Lucky for you, I am egotistical enough to write a blog entry about the men that have hit on me in order to share a small slice of wisdom.

1. “Haaayy girrrrrl, you got ankle weights here?”
Wow, nothing makes me more weak in the knees than a man in ankle weights. Oh wait, no… everything else does.
Tip: Maybe you need ankle weights and that is fine but don’t present it as the most macho piece of equipment. Ask a girl where something is to start a conversation, that is fine. Only ask where something heavy is if you can lift it.
Tip #2: Gyms don’t have ankle weights. Your masculinity is overwhelming.

2. “You must be new here.”
No, you must be new here because I have worked here for a year and a half and never seen you before.
Tip: Try honesty. Don’t say you work out 5 to 6 days a week when your body says “what is this place?!”

3. “Can I show you some exercises on the cables?”
Actually, I am a trainer.
Tip: If you want to get rid of a know-it-all, tell them you have a posterior Bankart lesion and torn labrum so please take that into account. Then watch them awkwardly back away. Better yet, make up a body part.

4. “You have great shoulders.”
If asymmetry, scars, and misshaped bones are your thing then here I am!! Just kidding, I’m not a freak but my shoulders are literally the only place on my body where I have a visible issue.
Tip: Compliments are great but select your body part carefully. (Booty is off limits, trust me.)

5. “Hello, angel.” *chest bump*
Select if you are going to be the dreamy boy band guy or the bro before you approach a girl. This is no joke I had someone say this to me and gave me a “hug” that was an aggressive run-into like I was between him and his football.
Tip: Have a game plan. Try to stay relaxed while executed said plan. Do not chest bump.

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After being approached/ seeing others get approached/ contemplating how to approach, this is my best advice:

1. Never interrupt a set.
This will mean immediate dismissal from any consideration of any relationship of any sort.

2. Be normal.
This might seem like an obvious tip, but people can get intimidated in the gym, hormones get excited, and sometimes weird things result.

3. Do your regular workout.
Lifting heavy is only impressive if you can actually lift it.

4. Eye contact.
You will fail if you ask someone to take out their headphones before they have made eye contact with you. Big fail.

5. Keep coming back.
If you see a person often then build rapport slowly and casually. Don’t do the panicked won’t-see-you-again-I-need-you-number thing.

The gym is not a dating service and the mirrors are not to help you scout. However, if you need to go find your dream lifter, take these tips into account.

barbellkiss

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Weights to Mates

Observe; the muscular man attracting a mate in his natural habitat.

He sees the weights he wants and quickly advances towards them. He maintains eye contact to make clear his desires yet acts casual as best as he can by walking with a swagger. Once he has claimed his irons he can take as much time as possible to check his phone, watch his reflection, and speak softly to himself in his best tough guy voice. Timing must be precise so that women may be safely distracted by his masculinity, as determined by the size of the weight he has chosen. A male specimen who is not as strong as the others must make up for his lacking bicep circumference by extra bold clothing color selections or obscenely loud music with his headphones. The female may notice one of these secondary characteristics.

Now it is time to lift these weights; form and function are irrelevant. The sound of the effort is most significant, as the male grunts with each repetition. Grunts may be replaced by yells, words, or curses as long as they can be heard throughout the gym. The more attention he can attract the better as his admirers look on. Other males stare with looks of disdain as he beats his chest by letting the weights fall as loudly as possible. Now he must strut the gym floor to show his dominance by the swagger in his walk. If a suitable female has not approached him, he must continue. If a potential mate has been met with eye contact, he can retreat to a quieter exercise to let another male make his presence known. This will repeat until a mate is found or until the male concedes protein shakes for beers and search for a female that doesn’t squat.

For the record, a lot of my friends are big guys who lift heavy, grunt loud, swear a lot, and slam the weights. I wrote this after a session with one of my clients where there were many men being extra loud and we laughed as they tried to outdo each other. The gym really is a place to attract attention to your physical strength and I see guys hitting on girls all the time this way (the other way around too of course)! National Geographic should be looking into this, really.

'Pain And Gain' - Film Set

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Annie Get Your Guns

Okay, enough already. Women can lift (and they should). Strong is the new skinny, my friend.

Stop waving your 2.5lb dumbbells around and wondering why your flab is getting flabbier. Here is a completely scientific argument (okay it is based on science) listing why women are just as tough as men and have even more reasons to pump some iron. It is okay to sweat and it is okay to grunt, and most of all it is okay to try something new when your strategy isn’t working. I challenge you to avoid the treadmill for a few sessions and get out of your routine. Here are the best 10 reasons for women to lift:

1. Burn that flab! Bigger muscles burn more calories and the workout will boost your metabolism!
2. Get toned! You do not have the testosterone of a man, you will not get all jacked up. Trust me I have tried.
3. Help fight injuries! Learn proper form and strengthen your body to help protect joints.
4. Burn more calories! Research shows more calories burned post workout versus a cardio workout.
5. Get stronger! Build muscle for endurance, strength, or power.
6. Lose that belly fat! …. you know crunches don’t work so just stop.
7. Feel confident! This is a high that is legal, healthy, and free!
8. Fight osteoporosis! Particularly in post menopausal women, fight bone loss!
9. Get out of your comfort zone!  If you need to read why you should be lifting, you probably aren’t.
10. Get the body you really want.

I hope the exclamation marks got my point across.

If another woman tells me that they don’t lift heavy because they don’t want to get bulky then maybe I will have to start considering that all of these women know the secrets of bodybuilding. Until then, I will believe that strength training is largely misunderstood.

“The myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy is only perpetuated by women who fear work and men who fear women.” – Source Unknown

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