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Sunday, January 27, 2013

hot or not?

I recently witnessed a rather heated online argument about whether or not it was unthinkable for a personal trainer to be overweight. (Started, as you might possibly imagine, by a personal trainer who was built more like Mr Blue Shorts above than Mr Green Shorts.) Plenty of people said they didn't care what their trainer looked like as much as what their trainer's clients looked like in their "after" shots.  Other people said they didn't care what their trainer looked like as much as they cared what he or she knew. Some people said it would depend on their goal. If they were aiming to lose weight, they'd prefer to train with someone who had been overweight themselves and had managed to change their body rather than someone who'd always been effortlessly thin. If they were aiming for maximal strength, they'd prefer an experienced powerlifter, whether said trainer were the stereotypical beefy, big-bellied powerlifter or a twig who didn't actually looked like she or he lifted when in normal clothes. And a minority of people agreed with the author of the original post: they thought a trainer should look like a fitness model, more or less, and they wouldn't hire someone who didn't.

So, what do you think? Does a trainer need to have a typical "hot" athletic-looking body*** for you to hire them?

I am perhaps biased in this, in that my beloved former trainer, the woman that turned me on to lifting heavy shit, was not particularly thin.  But holy crap, was she strong.  And she was encouraging and personable and enthusiastic about exercise.  She didn't need to look like Jamie Eason for me to trust what she told me and to look forward to working out with her. In fact, her looking like an average woman was probably even more encouraging.  It made me believe that I, also an average woman, could get strong too (well, maybe not as strong as her) if only I put the work in.

My old trainer doesn't train people any more, having taken a promotion in her other job, but the other trainers at my gym don't exactly fit the fitness model mode either.  One's a skinny middle-aged endurance athlete.  I wouldn't personally care to look like her, though many many women would, but if I wanted to eventually run a half-marathon or something, I'd be pleased to learn from her expertise.  One's a somewhat chunky young woman with a degree in exercise science. I don't know for sure, but I wonder whether she was a college athlete in one of those sports where having a bit of extra weight on you is to your advantage.  If I were an overweight person who wanted to become more fit, I'd be really comfortable training with her, someone who isn't thin but is very fit.  There's an older male trainer who looks utterly average in every way and a younger male trainer who looks relatively athletic but isn't overly ripped or muscular.  I see no reason I wouldn't train with either of them provided they could help me with my goals and our personalities clicked.

So, yeah, I guess I am firmly on the my-trainer's-looks-don't-much-matter side.  Which I suppose is fortunate, since I'd like to get into training people and I am in no danger of looking like Jamie Eason myself any time soon. Or, y'know, ever.


***let me make clear that I don't think looking like a fitness model is necessary for actually being hot. In fact Mr Blue Shorts there has a little too much pec and visible abs for my own personal preference.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

dear mr obama

Oh, DON'T WORRY. I'm not about to get all political up in here. No, I'm just gonna engage in some of my usual self-indulgent whining. Because everyone likes that even better. Right? Right????!!!???

Ahem. Okay, so I've been back in the gym for about two months now and back to heavy lifting for six weeks or so. In some ways I'm happy with my progress. My squats aren't back at pre-op levels, but they're coming along nicely.  I hadn't dumbbell benched in six months or probably longer, but when I tried it the other day, I shocked myself at how much I didn't completely suck.  My lat pulldowns are very close to being back to where they were in September.  Because I haven't been able to deadlift much (more about that VERY SOON), I've been doing a lot of direct trap work I wasn't doing prior to surgery and my shrug and farmers walks weights keep increasing nicely.  I've discovered a great new glute exercise--kneeling squats--and every single time I do those, I add weight to the bar.  So, yeah, certain things are coming along nicely, and since my intestines haven't yet fallen out of my hooha in the middle of the gym floor, I'm getting less nervous about that possibility by the day.

But. (Of course there's a but.) Certain things are really fucked.  Even though I had only the tiniest of external incisions, my abs still apparently took a beating. And not being able to lift anything heavier than my freaking purse for 5 1/2 weeks (and I wasn't even lifting that at first!) didn't help. Since I've been back to lifting, every time I've experimented with any deadlift-type movement, like RDLs or rack pulls, even with for-me baby weights, I've had the sensation that I was this close to effing my back up seriously or I was out of proportionately sore and wrecked for days after. All I can figure is that my core is so imbalanced right now, my back so much stronger than my abs, that the low back is completely taking over in stabilizing me during deadlifting as well as, y'know, doing the work it's supposed to.  Apparently when I squat the fact that my low back is stabilizing my core disproportionately skates by because my low back isn't also doing most of the work of the lift. That's my theory anyway.

Oh, and I can't even do one chin up any more, when I used to be able to do 8 or 9 in a row and 4 or 5 pull ups. When I tried on the assisted pull up machine at the gym, I had to use 25lbs of assist. Which is just too demoralizing, yo.  Since, as I mentioned, my lat pulldowns are almost where I was pre-op, it's not a lat issue. It's got to be my core.  Or my fear of engaging my core that much? Feh.

It's not all of my ab/anterior core muscles though, either. I can still plank without much trouble. I went to a trx class last week just for shits n' giggles and I busted out a bunch of crunches in it without any trouble (which frankly surprised me) but then we did this other ab thing at the end that involved keep your legs up off the floor and after a couple, I just laid back down till everyone else was done. Lulz. So maybe it's a hip flexor weakness? Did my gyn do something to my psoas??!????! Horrors! (Lulz again.)

Which brings me back to our post title. Dear Mr Obama, can we get universal health care to cover post-hysterectomy physical therapy for old women who still want to powerlift? I really would like a professional who's smarter than me to do a shitload of tests on me and tell me exactly what muscle imbalance I have and how to fix it, but I can't afford to pay for one.  Kthxbai.

Alright, if you suffered through all that whining and self-absorbed navel-gazing, here's my real navel and scars for your trouble. Pretty tiny, huh? Modern surgery is the ballz. Even if it did disrupt my psoas or something.

And here's my new favorite exercise!

See? Just like hip thrusts without all that embarrassing lying on your back on the gym floor humping the air business.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

the intersection of two obsessions

I've been organizing the FUCK outta my house post New Years, spurred on by approximately 5,483 different blogs and websites that I regularly read that made declutter your shit, yo their theme for the month.  If you haven't been forced to view the pictures of what I've been doing to my kitchen cabinets or made to listen to me wax rhapsodic about the Container Store, well, count your blessings, reader. Count your blessings.  However, some of this has also gently snuck into my gym life as well.

I give you, the GRID-IT:

See all my gym essentials neatly corralled so that they won't end up in a jumble at the bottom of my bag?  I saw this online (on one of those 5,483 websites telling me to get myself in order, of course) and had to have it. Had to have it so much I paid the extra $4 to get the color I wanted. I mean, the red one was on sale, but that would clash with my iPod. God. A person has to have some standards.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed that this thing doesn't hold more, but that's my own fault for not having a smaller log book, huh?  I'll report back and let y'all know how this thing works out in practice. Right now I'm just busy being smug about how all my stuff has a place.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

back to our normal programming

Happy New Year, boys and girls!

As my close personal friends may know, New Years Eve and I do not get along. I have had many crappy ones in the course of my life from the truly horrible (the one with the vicious family argument, the one with the stroke of midnight in the ED when my stoned future ex-husband managed to put some glass through his hand, the one spent drinking alone and crying and entertaining some mild suicidal ideation) to the only-funny-in-retrospect (the year our Chinese food delivery took five hours to arrive with phone calls from the restaurant every 45 mins promising that it was really on its way this time so our hopes kept being raised and dashed, my senior year in high school when I had a little too much fun and woke up the next morning at 6 am for my nursing home housekeeping job still buzzed after 3 hours sleep and proceeded to spend the next 8 hours throwing up into every fourth toilet I cleaned) to the merely banal (freezing my arse off at First Night with a cranky kid or kids who could have really given a fuck about the ice sculptures and puppet shows, freezing my arse off at First Night with adults who thought it was perfectly reasonable to stand around in 15 degree weather waiting for some damn fireworks). At some point in the last several years, I faced the fact that New Years Eve is not for me. Since then, I have treated it like any other night, albeit one with a Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy channel. This way happiness lies.

It occurred to me this morning, however, that long before I learned to hate New Years Eve, I actually hated January 1st. When I was just a kid, New Years meant vacation was over and the return to school was imminent. And because we only had maybe six tv channels then, all that was on tv was bowl games. Since I had even less interest in college football when I was a little girl than I do now (less than zero? hmmm) this meant I didn't even have anything to distract me. New Years Day meant boredom, anxiety, and sadness.

As an adult, none of that applies. Oh, January 1 still means the holidays are coming to a close and there's a certain sadness to that in a way: at least here in The Land of Crappy Weather, the beginning of January means at least a couple of months ahead of cold, snow, ice, freezing drizzle, and darkness without the distraction of celebrations, sparkly decorations, and people giving you prezzies. It means the slog of winter is upon us. But it also means the psychological promise of a fresh start, a blank slate. There's a sense of hope. This is gonna be the year I'll [lose weight, learn French, start running, get the finances in order, make the bed every day, insert resolution here].  Of course most of those resolutions fall by the wayside sometime before mid-February, but on January the First they all seem so promising. Everything seems to hold just a little bit of promise, bitter experience not withstanding.

This is why I ordered a bunch of stuff from the Container Store. This is why the front desk of the Y has been clogged with people signing up for new memberships for the last week or ten days. (Oh sweet baby Jesus, I just want to get swiped in and obtain a locker key. It shouldn't take 4 minutes and 17 seconds.) We all have a wee smidgen of hope and a big pile of soon-to-run-out determination that this year we'll kick ass and take names. Hey! It could happen.

If you need me, I'll be inside a kitchen cabinet putting my pot lids in order.  Probably best to avoid the gym for a day or two while the newbies are learning not to walk too close to the squat rack.