Tell everyone a little about yourself and how we got connected.
I got pregnant with twins and the last three months of the pregnancy I was on bed rest. By the time they were born, my body was so out of shape. I was feeling like I needed to get a professional on board. I had always exercised myself but this was totally different. I looked online and found you. You sounded like a great fit. As you know, we met — and now we have been working together for almost eight years.
What were you looking for in a trainer?
I was sort of skittish about working with the kinds of trainers you see on television. The ones who yell at you or only work with celebrities. I didn’t want to work with someone like that. I was looking for someone who would gradually work me back up to a healthy place. I wasn’t looking for flashy or pushy, or someone who was more involved in themselves than the person they are training. When we met I liked you a lot.
What kind of physical shape were you in before you got pregnant?
I had not been a big exerciser but I skied, I swam, and I walked a lot. I was in good shape. I was in normal shape. I was always able to do a gym class and it was fine. When I got pregnant I figured I would exercise throughout pregnancy. The bed rest, I can’t even explain what it feels like. You’re just in bed all the time and your muscles just completely disappear. By the time I did get up after I’d had my twins, I could barely walk because I had no muscles. I would actually be in pain trying to walk to the corner store. I would just be exhausted. I just couldn’t believe it. I would say to myself, “Oh my goodness, this is incredible that my body could just do this.” I wasn’t doing physical therapy or anything while on bed rest. I was just lying there. I remember trying to do a sit up with you the first day we worked together, and I had always been able to do 50 or so sit ups or whatever, and I could not do a single one. I remember that you encouraged me and said, “Don’t worry about it. We will get it back. We will get your muscles back.” I almost started crying because I was 38 and I was thinking “My goodness this is crazy. I am not able to walk, I am not able to do a sit up.” But now I am doing stuff that I never did before — even when I was in my 20s.
Tell us more about when you had to go on bed rest.
My twin boys are great and I love them. But you just don’t know what you are walking into when you get pregnant. You think “Oh, I will exercise throughtout the pregnancy and I will be fine.” Then suddenly I got the surprise news that I was having twins. Then I found out that I had to be on bed rest and I had to cancel everything. All of my work was suddenly canceled on a Friday. From then on it was just bed rest and watching Netflix.
Tell us about the process of regaining your strength.
I remember that at the beginning of the journey back we focused on my core. You very gradually worked me back with sit ups — the modified sit ups because I couldn’t do the normal ones. And you really taught me how to focus on those core stomach muscles. I didn’t even realize when I started to be able to do certain things again. And we did planks, which I had never done. At first it was really hard to do. It was a gradual thing. You were always encouraging and you paced me. You listened to me. If I said on a Thursday that I could barely move after our Tuesday session you would make adjustments and work a different muscle group. You always first asked if it was pain or just soreness. If it was soreness you said that was alright, but if it was pain you said we didn’t want to touch that area again for now. Over the years, you have just gradually introduced more and more exercises. Now, next year I am going to be doing one of those mud runs and I never would have done that before! I feel confident that I can do it. At this point, I can exercise with my husband and I have more endurance than he does. He has always been a soccer player and he has always been very physical. So even he has been surprised and said, “My goodness, I am finding it a challenge to keep up with you.”
It has been gradual. Nothing was sort of forced on me. It was a gradual steady work that we did. It was what I needed because I really started at zero. I was just saying to someone the other day that I am in such better shape than I was when I was in my 20s. Now I am 45.
Have you changed emotionally as you have changed physically?
Well, I have found you to be a very grounding, stable person. There have been times when I have been hyper focused on parts of my body that I wasn’t happy with, like my belly. You do things that are helpful when I am doing that. One, you always come up with exercises to sort of target that part of the body but you also will point out when some of what I am doing is unrealistic. You have even helped me with my clothing. Remember I used to wear really large stuff to sort of cover up? You have helped me to get to a place where I wear things that are smaller and more fitted. Now I know that they actually do look good and I never realized that before because I was so covered up. In general, you have also helped me with nutrition.
We take some of our cues from loved ones, friends, and people we work with about how we are doing with things we are trying to change. What has your husband said or what have others said about what they have noticed since we have been working together?
It’s mainly my husband who has been very impressed, one with my perseverance. He always says he is just so blown away at how I have steadily worked with you twice a week and there is nothing that I let interfere with that. He also comments on how I look more slender and more toned. He has been saying that constantly lately. He says, “Wow, your body looks really good.” He has been my main cheerleader and he supports me in continuing.
My mom, who can be a little critical of me, says, “It’s incredible that you work out twice a week every week and unless there is something major that comes up you don’t miss your work out session.” And she says I look more fit.
Even my boys have said, “Mom, you look skinny.” They are also impressed. They know on certain days when they see me leaving that I am going to work out with you.
Are you happier or more confident now?
Recovering my body has made me happy. Not just recovering it, but actually feeling really confident now physically. I feel I can do stuff and that’s a real change. Like I said, I used to ski, I used to swim, but I was never an athlete. I really didn’t like gym class all that much. I could do it but I didn’t ever like it. Now I feel very confident. The fact that I am going to run this mud run is totally out of character for me — but I just feel that I can do it. Just the sense that my body is fit and it responds to what I ask of it feels really good. The first time you put me on the treadmill I said, “I can’t run.” You thought that was ridiculous and told me I could definitely run. I shared with you that my ex-husband once saw me run and he said, “You run weird.” You told me I could get here and I believed you — and now I have.
What is your professional life like?
I am a psychologist so my day is usually spent in the office sitting and listening to people. I work with people who are not well so for me it is very important and helpful to feel physically fit and to have that personally positive experience . For my patients, I have become much more of an advocate for exercise. In mental health, exercise is very important. It has now become a part of my treatment plans. It’s important that people exercise and eat healthy and that’s a new aspect of the work I do. I never used to focus on that. Now I have for about the past three years.
What’s your favorite exercise that we do in your sessions?
I love kickboxing with the bag!