Gym Lessons: Shout Out To The Teacher!

Monday I had an opportunity for another “gym lesson”.  I could call it Gym Lesson # 6, but quite possibly it is actually Gym Lesson # 487 and I just haven’t been paying close enough attention in class!  What I did realize during this particular lesson, however, was just how much of an impact a trainer can have on a person’s life that goes well beyond the gym.

NSCA certificationHere’s the deal.. I am not a trainer but I bought the book!  The book covers essentials such as exercise science, consultation and evaluation, exercise techniques, etc.  What the book does not address is the intangible of what makes a great trainer.

The intangible.. what cannot be taught by any book is the desire for another person to succeed.  It is about seeing someone’s true capabilities, understanding the goals and aspirations of that person, and taking a vested interest in helping him or her become the person they wish to be.  It involves teaching a person to believe that they can obtain a goal.  The key that the trainer knows well before the trainee is that this training is not all physical.. it isn’t all about exercise technique or program design.  It is about training a full self and that is why the impact a trainer has on a person’s life can be a “game-changer”.  It can be limitless!

Let’s face it, life as a trainer is not a piece of cake or even a birthday cake flavored protein shake.  The alarm goes off at some totally unreasonable hour such as 4 am.. it is dark, maybe cold, and just who really wants to get out of bed at that hour anyway??  The hours are challenging to say the least.  Work/life balance is most likely difficult due to the odd hours.  In some cases, a trainer may rarely be “off” work since often there is communication with their clients after the actual scheduled session.  For instance.. those urgent potato questions!Urgent Potato Question!

So today I want to give a shout out to all those trainers!  I would not be the person I am today without  trainers such as this in my life.  I am grateful for each and every one who were not only a part of my story, but also help me continue to write my story.  Each has played a huge role in my life.  To not include all of you in this post in no way diminishes your importance in my life.  You all mean the world to me and I hope to dedicate a post to each of you someday.

This post, however, goes out to the lone dude in the bunch!  The one who may actually shave his legs more often than the other trainers.. who knows.  😜

My story with Paul begins in 2012 in which through a series of events, I found myself living in a hotel room.. starting over yet again.  I was a broken woman and I was terrified.  “Fitness” and training had become very much a part of my lifestyle. At the time, I was neither eating or sleeping properly but I had to hold onto the one thing that gave me solace.. and that was the gym.  So before I had a place to live, thanks to the help of Kim (then my trainer.. now my closest friend).. I had a gym and a trainer, Paul.

I had just come out of a long-term relationship in which maintaining a certain look was emphasized.  This became exaggerated in my mind.  Therefore, in the aftermath, if given the choice between eating something that would have any potential of fat gain or not eating at all, I would opt to not eat at all.  I carried this burden along with many others into Brutal Iron Gym that day where I asked Paul to please help me put on some size..

Yes, my body has changed in the 2+ years of training with Paul.. Yes, I have become significantly stronger physically… Even more noticeable, however, are the many other changes that have occurred in those years.

pig penI am pretty sure what Paul saw walk into the gym in 2012 was similar to how Pig Pen looks.. except in my case it wasn’t a cloud of dirt but a cloud of defeat and sadness.

As we worked on building my body, he was slowly building my confidence as well.  Every squat that I thought I would fail, hearing “Maribeth you can do this.. you are strong!” carried over well beyond that squat.  Slowly I started to see that Yes, I am strong!  As we started to increase muscle mass and lose body fat, a new Maribeth would slowly unveil itself.  The misbeliefs of the old Maribeth would slowly shed away.  Just as one works to lose fat and expose the strong foundation of muscle, I came to understand that the core of who Maribeth was should be revealed as well.  As he pushed me to new levels and we broke new ground in the gym, he also pushed me to new breakthroughs outside of the gym.  Just as I would miss some lifts at the gym, I would also miss when I tried these new things in life.  Failure became redefined outside of the gym.. just as it did inside of the gym.  Trying and missing was no longer a defining moment that meant failure but walking away and giving up altogether was now the new definition of failure.  Taking chances, making mistakes, or stumbling would just be considered part of the process.  Quitting eventually became an unacceptable answer.. and this was Monday’s gym lesson when the word, “resolve” was once again re-enforced.

Thank you Paul!!

Just in case my story isn’t enough.. I want to share Laura’s story.

I was personally able to witness some of Laura’s transformation.. this evolution was and continues to be beautiful!  Although I followed her almost every day at the gym, I don’t think we spoke for the 6 months.  You see.. her and I are similar.  We are both fairly shy, could even be considered “wallflowers”, and we both have a tendency to “shrink”.  Eventually we broke through this and now are close friends.  She was nice enough to let me share some of her story through her words and these pictures.

The physical transformation of Laura is incredible and requires no commentary!!

Her mental transformation is a little more subtly shown in pictures and maybe better described in a story.  She asked me if I would meet her up at the gym for her first time to work out there by herself.  That lasted like one time before she was up there all the time on her own.. you couldn’t keep her away!  Very soon afterwards, she was taking others and showing them the ropes!  Now??  Shoot, that girl walks in there and owns it!

From Laura:

“Paul puts his knowledge of leadership development and the experience gained in his own fitness journey to great use as a trainer.  I was such a chicken and knew nothing of gyms or true fitness until I started working with him. 

Over the last 15 months, I’ve discovered I’m tougher and stronger than I thought and much credit can go to Paul for encouraging me to try new things and pushing me harder than I ever pushed myself.  Now I know I can do more and do it better.  When I workout alone & feel tired or weak, I know I have it in me to keep going.  My confidence and belief in my abilities has increased. 

Creating workouts for myself and making informed decisions regarding food is so much easier now as well because of what I’ve learned as well.  Even going out to eat is less stressful!

It’s about quality not quantity so now instead of trying for another lift or going for “just one more” rep when my form is breaking, I need to stop rather than risk injury.  Thirty minutes of quality, well performed lifts is far better than 60-minutes of bad form and injury. In the past I was all about the amount of time I exercised & it didn’t get me far.

Paul is a sincere encourager!! I laugh when he says “we” are doing X today. I know he means ME, not we, but it’s encouraging to know that while I’m the one busting my rear, he’s right there cheering me on and he’ll help if I get into trouble. His optimistic nature and sincere desire to help people achieve their goals is contagious. I find myself thinking more now about how I can make a difference for others because I know how much that has meant to me in my journey.

Paul provides sound advice to help me achieve my goals because he has the experience to back it up.  He seeks the advice of others he trusts to make sure he is guiding me in the right direction.  Some people would prefer their clients think all the knowledge is their own, but I appreciate that Paul thinks highly enough of his clients to provide them the best guidance possible and sometimes that means reaching out to someone else. 

The truth is I have learned a great many things and have become a better person all around since joining the gym & working with Paul. We believe mind, body, & spirit are connected and once one area begins to fall into place (through hard work and intentional focus), the others will as well. I will never be the person I was two years ago…I’ve grown out of her. Thanks for your role in this transformation, Paul!”

To all you trainers..when you are just wrapping up your day and going home at 8:30 pm in the dark, tired and worn out, knowing that your alarm will be going off in just a few hours to start again.. rest assured that your work is important!  It is appreciated.. possibly even more than you will ever know!!

  4 comments for “Gym Lessons: Shout Out To The Teacher!

  1. TK
    October 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    One of my favorite posts yet!
    Also, your back progress and general lean muscle mass progress is amazing! That is incredible.

    (And Laura looks incredible! Those obliques)

    • October 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you so much the kind words!
      Laura looks amazing, doesn’t she??!!

  2. Anonymous
    October 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

    wow! what an amazing transformation for Laura…awesome article 🙂

    • October 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Yes! Laura’s story has been amazing to watch! She’s been an inspiration in her tenacity!!

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