First workout session

My first session with Bernard, my new personal trainer, ended just about an hour ago and it was a tough one.

I was up at 4:40 AM. Bernard told me to eat something at least an hour before my workout, so last night, I bought one of those energy bars, and I ate that while getting ready this morning. (I also bought a combo lock for a locker, a small bottle for shampoo, and some soap for showering at the gym afterwards.)

I caught the 5:17 AM train and was at Pentagon City by 5:50 AM. I headed straight to the gym, put my stuff in a locker, and then headed for the bikes, because Mike, the guy who I worked with to sign up for my membership told me it was a good idea to warm up on the bike for 10 minutes.

At 6:15 AM, I met Bernard. I immediately found out that I shouldn’t have done the warmup because one I’ve done some exercise, you can’t do a body fat test. So that test is scheduled for next time. In the meantime, Bernard took my various measurements, none of which I recorded, but which I’ll try to remember to get next time. Actually, the only one that I remember offhand is my weight: 65.45 kg (144 lbs. for those of you still hooked on the English system of measurement).

Next was a fitness test. I did poorly in all areas. First was a 5 minute ride on the stationary bike. I needed to keep above a certain level, which I did, but which, in the end, I was rated “very poor”. Bernard said that was because the level was too easy. It really didn’t bother me too much, however. It just means that there is plenty of room for improvement. After the bike, I had to see how many crunches I could do in 1 minutes. At this, I was abyssmal, but I knew I would be going in. I did something like 20 or 25 in 1 minutes, which also rated me poor. Finally, there was a flexibility test. Of all of the tests, this one was the worst for me. I am probably the least flexible person I know. You sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your feet flesh against this device that has a slide on the top of it. You then extend your arms to touch the slide, and see how for forward you can push it. You get 3 tries and the best one is taken. I was barely able to budge it.

Once the fitness test was done, we moved into the workout for today, which was focused on upper body. This included several sets on a shoulder press machine, an inclined chest press, and one other machine that I can’t recall the name of. On each machine, Bernard showed me how to use to the machine properly, as well as the proper form for the exercise. Reps were between 12 and 15 depending on the machine. The second time around, reps were fewer. Occasionally, I’d get to the 5th rep, really struggling, and Bernard would say, “just one more,” and I’d be done.

Between these sets, there were other activities. I did curls with free weights (2 sets, one with 15 lbs weights in each hand, the second with 20 lbs weights in each hand). The second set I think I did 4 reps and could do no more. There were pushups between sets as well. Reps of 10 which was no problem the first time, but the second time, my arms had begun to feel like rubber and I think I had to stop after 4. Also between sets were crunches. I’d get down on my back, with my legs straight up in the air (Bernard holding my feet) and then reach up in a crunch, in a vain effort to touch my toes. Reps of 12 or 15 and I had no trouble with these. There were curls with a big bar (no weights, but it was heavy enough). Finally, there was three sets of jumping jacks, 30, 20, and 30.

At the end of the session, I stretched. Bernard was a big help here, able to pull back my arms to get my triceps, or other muscles properly stretched. That was the most satisfying part of the workout, because I could feel the muscles being well-stretched. When stretching was done, we scheduled two appointments for next week, one Tuesday at 6 AM, the other Thursday at 4 PM. And I got my homework: at least 1 half-hour session of cardio and abs work between now and Tuesday. And I also need to start keeping a meal log for which Barnard will use to gauge my nutrition, and by which I will be totally embarassed (and don’t worry, I will post the log here).

When the session was over, I headed to the locker room to shower and that in itself was interesting. I’d never showered in a gym locker room before, not since high school anyway, and I was not used to the fact that there are no shower curtains and that all the guys walk around completely naked. It took about a 20 second mental adjustment while I stood at the locker, and then I thought, “When in Rome…” and everything was fine thereafter. It’s probably what it’s like being in the Army. It did make me wonder, thought: is it the same in the women’s locker rooms? That would certainly seem more interesting.

Now I’m at work with instructions to eat something within 30 minutes of my workout. I grabbed a bottle of water and a banana on the way up because I was not feeling very hungry, but I will probably grab something with a little more substance in another half hour or so. The one side-effect so far is that I don’t feel as though I can stretch my arms out completely, they seem to curl up like a bull dog’s front legs. But that will pass.

All-in-all, I feel really good. Bernard told me that while my fitness scores were poor, he could really see me putting in an effort during the workout. He said my form was good and that he didn’t think I’d have problems with that. Of course, it’s his job to encourage me, but I still felt good coming out of my first session.


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