Every quarter, students in the Personal Fitness Trainer program at the college where I work need practical experience for their certificates and degrees. In other words, they need people to train. Usually the email to faculty and staff from the Personal Fitness Trainer program manager comes either in the afternoon, when I’m not at work, or right when I’m in the middle of something and can’t respond. The time slots are usually claimed within the hour. Assuming that I get the email at a time when I can respond immediately, I haven’t had the time to take advantage of the opportunity. Finally, in April, the stars aligned just right. I signed up to be a lab rat.
I was expecting my trainer, Marissa, to be young enough to be my daughter. She is. But what I did not anticipate was the camaraderie we developed and the easy way she and I worked with one another. That said, Marissa pushed me hard and didn’t hesitate to ratchet things up a notch or five if she saw I could handle something more or less easily. But she was so nice and sweet about it. Her encouragement and high-fives made my day and pushed me to the top of my game.
Marissa confided to me that the college’s program has students learn how to design a program while they are developing programs for their “clients.” It’s a learn-as-you go deal. There is something to be said for that approach to learning. From my end, I really wouldn’t have guessed that’s the Personal Fitness Trainer program’s methodology. Marissa did an excellent job creating my program and revising it as I progressed. She has all sorts of numbers written down about my body measurements, the pounds pressed, the miles ran, and I’m sure all her numbers point to one thing – I’m better off for having worked with her.
Certainly I’ve been pushed out of my “comfort zone” a little. One of my sensei (instructors) used to nudge me every now and then to try weight training. I ignored that nudge. Now I see why he enjoys working out in the gym. I spent a couple of seasons training hard with karateka (karate peeps) who were going to Nationals. But I didn’t maintain that level of fitness. I loathed jogging and dropped it altogether. Marissa had me jogging or on the elliptical strider a lot. Now I’m seeing a difference in my performance in the dojo (karate school). My sensei has noticed a difference too. He hasn’t actually said that he’s noticed a difference, but I can tell because he’s been pushing me harder and harder in class.
There are loads of things I’ve gained from the time I’ve spent as a lab rat. I’ve learned that I can make significant gains in a short period of time. Of course I’ve learned a lot of very specific exercises, but I’ve also learned how to structure a workout. I’ve resolved to use this knowledge in my personal workouts outside of the dojo. Now I have a few more fun little things to have my fellow students do whenever I lead warm ups for Karate class. And if I want to go to the college’s gym and track after work, I won’t be completely clueless about what to do. I have a feeling that I’d better invite Marissa to my black belt test, whenever that will be. If she’s still in the area!
Marissa has a dream that I hope will come true. Yes, she wants to open a gym. But not just any old gym. She wants a commercial kitchen tacked on. The idea being that after a personalized workout, Marissa can hand her clients custom-tailored meals to take home. Not only is Marissa studying to be a personal fitness trainer, she is also studying to be a nutritionist. Marissa used to be a cook at a restaurant. She jokes, “I used to make people fat, now I want to make them healthy and fit.” Whenever I tell people of Marissa’s dream, they are enthusiastic, and invariably say, “Sign me up!” I’d like to see a studio added to Marissa’s business so that there’s room for yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and gee, maybe even Karate. Marissa’s future looks bright, and I’m glad to have helped her on her journey as she has helped me on mine.