Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Catherine Jane is going to kill me for saying this, but I am totally not into personal trainers or instructor-led exercise classes/boot camps to inspire or increase my physical fitness.

Don't get me wrong. I think a lot of people get life-altering benefits from both personal training services and workout classes, and I recognize the importance of these for some people. I just happen not to be one of those people.

I've tried many fitness classes in the past - all women classes, co-ed classes, beginner classes, small classes, large classes, yoga/step/aerobics classes - but for some reason I've always come away from these dissatisfied and a little bit bored. Though I've never had a personal trainer, I've consulted with a few in the gyms that I've been a member of, and on occasion I've even received a complimentary "session" with some of these folks. I have to admit that on more than one of those occasions, I've become quite annoyed with my "trainers" in a matter of minutes.

I believe I've found the root of the problem for me - external and internal motivation cannot co-exist in my world of fitness. Either I have to succumb to extrinsic sources to get me pumped and psyched and pushed to my limits physically, or else I have to tap into intrinsic motivators to do the same. I cannot have both operating on me simultaneously, since one will inevitably cave to the other, and in my case, it is always the intrinsic that wins out.

Usually, I am such a driven and determined (some might call it stubborn) individual that there is no way to turn off the internal drives that inspire my actions; if I am at the gym to get into shape, and I've made up my mind that I am going to go hard, then there is little benefit to having someone else there to cheer me on or give me pointers. I will do it and do it hard just because I've set my mind to it. The presence of a trainer or an instructor would simply be an annoyance and an obstacle to the efficiency of my intense workout.

If, however, I attempt to allow the external influences of a trainer or instructor to spur me into action, I will inevitably give up and surrender all intrinsic motivation to get into shape. I will then do nothing, or as close to nothing as I can possibly get away with, and I will resent the individual assisting me, and conclude the entire experience to be a boring waste of time and money. Call it the anti-authoritarian in me, but I have a hard time getting motivated by someone outside of myself, and an equally hard time respecting someone for giving me information that I already know. I may not have a diploma in Personal Training or a degree in Physiology / Phys. Ed., but I might as well be given an honorary certificate for having done as much reading as I have on diets, exercises, muscle formation and development, supplementation, and proper form.

I sometimes wish I could be more respectful, more docile, more submissive to the professionals in fitness around me. I know Tejanamama gets a lot of positive results from her workouts with her trainer, and I know for a fact that Catherine Jane is one very educated, effective, and ripped personal fitness consultant/trainer. However, my constitution just won't allow it. I've never seen any results from the times I've joined classes or worked with others to get in shape, and yet on my own I managed to (at one point..though you wouldn't know it now) drop over 40 pounds from my frame while maintaining some semblance of muscle mass.

Luckily, a fire has recently been lit inside me, and now I am feeling that intrinsic, burning desire to return to my skinny proportions. I'm pretty determined to make it stick this time around, so if I am able to maintain that drive from within, I have no doubt that I will be seeing results before the fall. Of course, this means I may need to quit that stinkin' boot camp class of mine... ;)


Curlz said...

Not only do I NOT want a personal trainer telling me what to do at the gym, but I get highly annoyed when there are men in little orange vests standing in the middle of the street pointing out the obvious direction in which I should go. If you are riding in the car with me you might hear me say under my breath, "Don't tell me what to do!"

Anti-authority issues? You tell me.