I’ve heard it said that getting yourself to the gym is the hardest part of your workout. Whoever said it is a big, fat liar. The hardest part of working out … is working out. My trainer Keith Sims starts me on a two-day a week weight routine, and a six-day a week cardio regime. I’m so heinously out of shape I want to cry.
Our weight routine starts with 20 minutes of lower body exercises, followed by 20 minutes of plyometrics and conditioning — exercises that combine fast, powerful movements that increase performance — and wraps with 20 minutes of upper body and abdominals.
Sims insists on a three-minute warm-up prior to beginning a weight routine which means I have to arrive early enough to hop on the bike or elliptical to ensure that I’m ready to go when our session starts. Sims doesn’t mess around. Our exercises are grouped into sets. Each set consists of three exercises (done twice or three times in a sequence), each exercise is 12-15 reps. First up: seated leg extensions. From there incline leg curls, then to the free weight area, where Sims hands me a 20-pound barbell. I’m scared just looking at it. Fortunately Sims demonstrates that I should use the barbell to get a good stretch on my hamstrings. “Head up. Chest out. Slowly lower the bar,” says Sims. “Keep your back straight.”
I have absolutely no resilience in my hamstrings, but Sims assures me this will change. It had better, because this stretch feels like slow torture. Next sequence: seated leg press. I have trouble with this machine from the get go. It’s not so much the weight — because there’s none on there — it’s the darn handle. You have to grab it and pull it toward you to release the locking mechanism. I’m so weak I can’t do it. If Sims is frustrated with my ineptitude he doesn’t show it. He just keeps encouraging me, “It’s OK. You’ll get it.”
From there we do squats. Sims says, “This is the one exercise that’s going to affect every muscle group. You’re going to become the Queen of Squats.” If this is what it’s like being queen, perhaps I should remain a peasant? There is nothing fun about squats. In fact, I try to go someplace else in my mind when we do them. They are very hard. These are followed by lunges. By this time, I’m completely out of breath.
“Follow me,” says Sims as he leads me downstairs to the aerobics room. My legs are quivering. In the aerobics room Sims sets up step blocks one on top of the other. This is the pylometrics portion. It leaves me reminiscing for the legs section I thought was so hard. We begin a series of jumping exercises. I notice a defibrillator on the wall in the lobby. “Keep that handy,” I tell Sims, who laughs. “You’ll be fine,” he reassures. I don’t feel fine. I feel like I’m going to fall over. When the jumping is done we head to the stairs.
Burn Fitness has a private stairwell that spans several floors. The trainers use it to run clients up and down the length of it. For me, at this stage, all I can do is walk. “OK,” says Sims, “That’s good.” I live for those moments when Sims tells me we’re done. But then I realize we still have upper body movements: chest presses, overhead raises, lateral raises, bicep and tricep curls … my arms are shaking.
“You’re really gonna feel this tomorrow,” warns Sims. “But just stay with it. It’s gonna get better.” After our session he puts me on the bike for an hour of cardio — which I do religiously.
Sims is right. After my first week — it is better, and I feel better, and on top of that I’ve lost two pounds.
Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.
By the numbers
Starting Weight: 182
Pounds lost week one: 2
Goal weight: 135
Pounds to lose: 45