Lee Sandford working out with a trainer from “across the pond”.
This Time It’s Personal
By Lee Sandford
I recently engaged a personal trainer. To train me, myself. Which I feel the need to clarify because I am in fact a qualified personal trainer and have led group fitness classes and trained clients in their homes for the past twelve years. So, it may seem odd to some that I’d hire someone else for services I provide myself.
A year ago, I invested in the TRX suspension training system to add to my repertoire of workout options. It’s a deceptively simple looking device, developed by a Navy Seal, but it has an endless array of drills you can do with it, which I muddled through using online videos. I knew I wasn’t getting the best out of the system and would benefit from a TRX specialist coaching me through the progressions, explaining exactly which muscle groups I was aiming to engage each move.
During the spring lockdown I had moved my own classes to Zoom and although my clients and I greatly missed our outdoor gym at Rye Town Park, it was certainly convenient, so I set about finding a personal trainer who would work with me on Zoom. Via a deep dive on Instagram, I found Michelle, a fitness trainer who specializes in TRX and functional training. We seemed to have so much in common apart from our profession. We are similar age, our kids are exactly the same age, and she’s a former expat now back living in London only four miles from my brother. I emailed her with a quick bio, and after a Zoom chat to discuss my goals, we started working out together twice a week.
It’s been a slightly strange experience being the client, the funniest part of it being the epiphany that having a personal trainer is awesome! You’d think I’d know that, since people pay me for the same service, and I have loyal clients who have been with me for years. But it’s been nice to be reminded of the enormous contribution trainers can make to people’s fitness, well-being, and happiness. I absolutely love my sessions with Michelle and tried to articulate a few reasons why.
The accountability and extra push are game-changing, even for someone who loves to work out and is used to encouraging clients daily. Nothing gets in the way of my twice-weekly time slots, whereas sometimes my own workouts slip down the priorities list, not to mention that during them, my phone is often a distraction. Having a professional who knows exactly where your limits are and pushing you to them makes an incredible difference. With Michelle correcting my form on drills, giving me helpful cues, and just encouraging me on, there have been times I’ve gotten through dozens of reps of tough drills, where I’d have struggled to do just a couple on my own.
I’ve felt very safe learning more about this discipline under an expert eye. In our industry there are plenty of self-professed “gurus”, and I have worked hard to educate myself in women’s fitness, in particular in the post child-bearing years, so I respect the level of education Michelle has undertaken to rightly be considered an expert in this field.
It’s impossible to separate the reasons I love my workouts so much from what’s going on in the world. Michelle has a warm and friendly personality and through our short chats before or after our sessions (it’s all business during the workout) I feel I’ve made a new friend that I look forward to seeing twice a week, and of course we’re certainly safely socially distanced being on either side of the Atlantic!
Like so many people, I’m experiencing anxiety, and like so many women my age, a lot of it is because the pandemic is layered over the problems of being part of the “sandwich” generation. I worry what the future looks like for my kids and grieve that my parents are so lonely and dependent because of the restrictions protecting their age group. Self-care is being advocated universally to protect our mental health. This is my version of self-care — for two hours a week, I’m thinking only about perfecting my TRX plank abductions, my low row, or my unilateral lunge.