For $100 an hour, trainer needs sense of humor

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Good health is getting more expensive, at least for me.

My personal trainer, Neil, just informed me he took a few more certification courses and now charges $100 an hour.

I've got a couple problems with that. First of all, anyone who makes that much money should be legally permitted to write me prescriptions for painkillers.

Second, for 100 bucks an hour, I demand a complete personality, or at least a sense of humor.

As we've established before, Neil is extremely good looking and perhaps the finest physical specimen I've ever seen. That's probably because he lives in a gymnasium and doesn't eat anything but organic food.

He even takes his girlfriend to the Rollin' Oats natural foods cafeteria for special occasions.

Sure, we'd all like to date hot guys, but I'll overlook the love handles if he doesn't say, "It's your birthday, Hon! Let's go all out for some soy burgers and wheat grass smoothies!"

When we last left Neil, he'd just given me the second of three strength training routines and was on the verge of tears due to my unchanged fat/muscle ratio. I swore I'd lose 10 pounds by our next meeting.

I didn't. And, like the crazy fat person I've become, I sent him an e-mail outlining my reasons why he wouldn't be allowed to weigh me at our next meeting, basing them on legitimate psychological research plus a fair dose of melodrama.

He wrote back that not weighing would be fine, but he'd gone up to $100 an hour.

That's when it started to go south.

He arrived at our appointment with the news that my new exercises were in a book titled "Eat, Move and Be Healthy" by Paul Chek, which I was supposed to have purchased a month ago but didn't.

Luckily, he had one on hand. There went another $25.

Turns out Paul Chek is a "holistic health practitioner" who, of course, lives in California. The book is full of apparently hand-drawn "graphics" that rave about the evils of tap water and microwave ovens.

At least I think that's what they rave about. Maybe the processed foods I eat are blocking my understanding.

But the worst part were the exercises Neil selected for me.

My first two routines, neither based on the book, looked pretty normal. He did give me one where I stand on one leg and squat with the other, but even that wasn't horrible.

This time, it's really embarrassing. I think he's getting back at me for not losing weight.

In one, I look like a cross between a ballerina and a gorilla. In another, I look like I'm getting electroshock therapy.

But the last one is the worst. I have to keep my torso straight while rocking my pelvis back and forth, side to side, and then in a figure eight. I couldn't keep a straight face as Neil demonstrated.

"Tell the truth, Neil," I said. "You got this out of the 'How to Dance Hip Hop' instructional video."

No smile at all.

"Yes, this may appear to be like a dance, but it's actually an exercise," he said.

At least people at the gym are getting a laugh as I slink off to the corner with the Swiss ball Neil has me violating.

My next personal trainer is definitely going to drink sodas.

Heidi Hall is a former managing editor for the Southeast Missourian. She resides in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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