Trigger warning for food/exercise stuff.
A little over month ago, I had my first personal training session. Whenever I do a Q&A I get a lot of questions about how it’s going, so today I thought I would share how it’s going.
A Month of Personal Training
Training isn’t something brand new to me. Five years ago I worked out with a trainer 2-3x a week. I really loved the experience, but when I moved to Brooklyn a) my rent went up quite a bit (ahhhh the delightful jump in rent from studio to having an actual bedroom door) so it was the first expense that I cut. That is right about when I got really into yoga (Sky Ting was right down the street from me. My former trainer remains a good friend and even did a (really informative) Q&A post for the blog a few years ago.
The past year has just left me out of shape, tired, cranky, short-fused… I could go on. I did go on, if you want to hear me whine, read this blog post. In fact, I did decently well during lockdown… I took a lot of stress walks and did Melissa Wood Health almost every day. It was the move that did me in… I pretty much quit all physical activity (besides walking) when I moved here. I’ve tried quite a few workout classes here in Charleston but haven’t found anything I really liked… and also have at-home workout fatigue.
I met Liz through my building and have been really happy working out with her. We use the gym in my building and do two workouts a week together and then she gives me two homework workouts (usually circuits; a mix of cardio and weights) plus suggested yoga flows.
I really need accountability!
For me, the fact that I am paying for these workouts and that someone is waiting for me is what keeps me consistent. Obviously there are a lot of perks to working out with a trainer (form is another big one… I don’t have the greatest form right now so having someone to adjust/correct me is really helpful). With the homework workouts, she’s reasonable – but if I miss one without any good reason, I have to do burpees (least favorite!) so I haven’t missed one yet!! The accountability is definitely the biggest thing for me. Of course there are other ways to get your accountability fix (having a workout buddy, meeting friends to take classes together, etc!) but right now, this is the best option for me.
I am a beginner again and that kinda sucks.
It’s been a little over a month and I’m not quite as sore as I was in the beginning. But in the beginning I would feel like I couldn’t walk properly!!!! Legs day is particularly brutal. My form also really sucks but that is improving. Muscle memory comes back but in the meantime I really like that Liz watches every move like a hawk and is constantly adjusting my movements. This is something I really need.
It’s frustrating at times. I have always been relatively fit. I was a life long runner, I ran marathons in my twenties, and before lockdown happened I had signed up for a half marathon with my girlfriends. So like, I know HOW to work out, I am just not good at it, and everything is SO much harder than it used to be. Sometimes I just want to lay on the floor when we finish a circuit and if it is a tough workout day, I have to go to bed early as I’m just exhausted!!!
I can be really critical of myself and get frustrated with myself for not being where I want to be. Years ago I ran a marathon at a 9:37 pace. Right now my mile pace is around twelve minutes. I try to just remind myself that it is a journey and I’ll get back there! (Well I don’t know that I’ll ever run another marathon, but running 3 or 4 miles at a faster pace will be doable!). Baby steps.
And then there is the food! Such a departure. I was always a pretty healthy eater but during the pandemic I just kinda stopped eating protein and subsisted on a diet of bread, cheese, and vegetables (still my favorite food groups TBH). I have no idea why or how this happened, it wasn’t overnight it just kind of happened over time. I’m not a vegetarian but don’t eat meat very often.
My fridge is now full of protein. Cottage cheese. Greek yogurt. Cottage cheese is a savior because it’s salty and almost tastes like cheese… I eat a LOT of it. (It’s really good on an english muffin with everything but the bagel spices!) I sometimes have to set timers to remember to eat (fibrous carbs, an hour before my workout, protein immediately after!). And I will tell you that changing how I eat has made the biggest difference in my energy levels and how I feel.
I realize this isn’t for everyone and that I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who’s always had a good relationship with food but keeping a food diary has been SO valuable. It’s mostly a tool to remember to eat more – there will be times where I work out and feel faint and then I realize I didn’t eat enough that day. I don’t think the food diary is a long term thing and I don’t always remember to log my meals every day (and when I travel I don’t write anything down) but (for me) it’s been super helpful… mostly so that if I am tired or have a stomach ache I can look back on the day’s food intake and usually pinpoint a reason.
Thanks for posting this. We’re in a similar place and I’ve been feeling really down about it. Like you I was athletic at one point. I played club soccer through college, l rowed in high school and college, and ran races in my 20s. Pre-covid, I went to the gym minimum 4 days a week, ran, lifted heavy, and did circuits.
When covid hit, I was good about keeping up home workouts and even bought an elliptical that 100% did not fit into my apartment. But it’s not the same as having a real gym. Now for the first time in my entire life I feel intimidated in the weight room at the gym. I am a total beginner at this thing was a huge part of my identity for a long time. I got covid two months ago and was hospitalized despite being vaccinated and in my 30s. I’ve basically given up since. I cant even run a mile. I can never seem to get enough air in my lungs. I feel exhausted. And now I’m recovering, and it’s so hard to tell what is a real physical limitation and what is me telling myself that I’m still recovering and not pushing myself. It makes me feel really sad and just like I’m not myself. It helps to read that other people have been feeling the same and esp what you’ve done to combat it. Maybe I’ll hire a trainer, or at least try an in person class.
I am sorry about your Covid struggle. What helped me when I was sick was looking at Instagram #covidrecovery stories. Watching other people hike and run gave me hope that I would be able to do it again soon. It takes time to recover, and there will be ups and downs, but you will recover. Just go slow. When I first started walking outdoors again, I couldn’t even wear a bra because of the chest constriction. I would just go around the block a few times and work up from there. I’m back in a regular sports bra now. : )
Ugh, I am so sorry you’re going through that. I’m so glad you’ve recovered. Two months ago is still very recent, be gentle with yourself and take things one step at a time. My training workouts are so basic that sometimes I’m really embarrassed. I try to shift my mindset to be proud of myself for doing it because even though it’s something that once upon a time felt very easy for me and is now hard, I did it, and I’m making progress!!!!
I just started working out again with my trainer, after many months of very little exercise, and agree that one of the most frustrating things is having to start as a beginner. Things I used to do very easily now leave me winded, but hopefully we’ll get back to where we were! Good luck!
It is so frustrating. We’ll get there though. Good luck!
Thank you for this post! I feel right there with you! I was in a great routine pre pandemic, found one during the pandemic, but have dropped off all of this year. The thing that I hate most is how I feel – sluggish and blah. I know I’m a less frustrated person who sleeps better when I work out so thank you for sharing your process. And reminding me it’s ok to invest in myself (ie. personal training) because sometimes it feels too costly. Cheering you on from Boston!
It reallllly helps me feel less sluggish and also just nicer/less cranky!!!!!
I find these posts inspirational. I got Covid at the beginning of the year and while it was a mild case, it completely derailed my already skimpy, lockdown-era, workout routine and I gained the quarantine 15. I now have my booster and I am ready to get back to better workouts. I joined my gym again, and even though all classes are still cancelled and we still have to wear masks, I am committed to weight-training regularly. I’ve also been dropping in on local outdoor workout classes, like Zumba and Barre once a week as well. I am trying to do at least 4 exercise days a week, even if it’s just a walk. Thanks for talking about this. The struggle is real!
Oh man, I’m sorry. Baby steps – we will get there!
Chiming in here to agree with the others – this post really inspired me! I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a trainer for a while but keep pushing it off. I also caught COVID in 2020 despite basically never leaving my apartment complex, and after that I couldn’t even spend 20 min on my exercise bike (when I used to do 45-60 min a day!) without feeling like I was going to die. Having to basically start from scratch is so intimidating and frustrating, but I think it’s time to just jump in and do it!
I’m so glad it inspired you! It seems we are all feeling the same way!
Have you tried Longevity Charleston? The classes are fantastic. The space is lovely, the trainers tough and the clients super as well. It is my favorite fitness spot in a long time.
I haven’t! I have a friend who goes and loves it but it’s a 25 minute walk from my apartment and I just can’t do that on a regular basis (I don’t have a car!)… I need it to be close to my apartment (or with the case of the trainer, in my building) or I just won’t stick with it!
I love cottage cheese. None of my kids every liked it which is good because I never had to share.
It’s SO good!!!
I can totally relate to feeling like a beginner again. You are doing really well with your comeback, it will start to feel easier again soon I’m sure. I used to run 40km a week (for fun, mostly with a group) but after experiencing some health issues I had to stop all exercise for 8 months. I am just now getting back in to walking and some HIIT and it feels SO GOOD, despite being much harder than it used to be. I did not work out once at home during the pandemic but I was lucky that I could get out and run on my own as that was allowed.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Yesss, thanks for sharing! It seems a lot of us are in the same boat and went through the same thing. I am about a month into a workout program, myself, and MAN does it feel good to be exercising regularly again! I’m starting to feel like myself again. It has been difficult to feel like I was starting from such a low level of fitness, because usually I keep up with a workout routine. Covid lockdowns messed up everyone! Glad you’re sharing your journey because we all feel the same, we just didn’t know until we read your post and left comments!
It helps me too… there’s solidarity in knowing we’re all in this together!