How A Fear of the Gym Turned Into Success and a Healthier Lifestyle
Working in sales at Anytime Fitness in Luling, I like to think I have a formidable understanding about people from all walks of life. I see people who are younger, older, shorter, taller, skinnier and not so skinny. I refuse to say the F word and I am not talking about fuck. The other one. The one you should NEVER EVER EVER say in a gym.
I wish I could say that every person who walked through the door achieved all of their goals and all of them were happy. Unfortunately, that is not always the case despite the effort from myself and the team I am a part of.
When I decided to venture off into the world of personal training, I was ready to change lives. Not just physically, but mentally. One of my clients (also my first), Brandy, has been on quite the roller coaster since joining the gym. I hope her story will inspire you to better your self. You’re already awesome, but nothing wrong with a little improvement.
I remember the day Brandy walked through those doors with her friend and wanted to see about joining. I took them on a tour to show them all of the equipment and explain the different services we had to offer. From the second she walked in the door, I smelled one thing on her and it wasn’t perfume…it was fear.
Unfortunately, walking into a gym is not easy for many people. In fact, I would be willing to say the majority of people are scared shitless at the idea of joining a gym. I could tell that with her. As I sat there talking to her and her friend, I couldn’t muster up many words from her as the lump in her throat probably kept growing every single second she was in that office. She probably sat there thinking “what the hell am I doing?”
Both of them decided to sign up for 3 years, this was a huge commitment for them. I knew that right away. I got them set up with one of our trainers. I kept wondering to myself if they would sign up with a trainer. Personally, I was hoping they would. I enjoyed talking to them and in all honesty, I felt bad for Brandy. I could tell how scared and unsure of not only the gym, but how unsure of herself she was. That isn’t a feeling I ever want anyone to have.
Unfortunately, she decided not to do personal training. For the record, this is common with most people. In fact, statistically most people who sign up for training do so around the three month mark and not at the point of sale. I think part of that stems from the fear.
Well, her three months happened six times. For 18 months, I watched this woman walk in and head to the treadmill and that fear never went away. I could tell how uncomfortable she was. I would smile and say hi when we crossed paths and we would be on our way. She didn’t seem like she wanted to be talked to. It is probably because she didn’t. Again, that fear tends to consumes you. I get it. I see it ALL THE TIME.
I had just received my certification to personal train when I received a call. When I saw the name on the caller ID, my initial thought was “I hope she is not canceling.” I knew who it was. To my surprise, she asked about personal training. Every day I saw her on the treadmill, I kept thinking to myself “why isn’t she training?” Here it was. She finally reached out for help.
She and I talked for a minute and she had asked about two people who could not train her. One was scaling back on clients and the other was no longer with us.
Remember that fear I talked about? With us having a few new faces in the club, she wanted no part of that. So I said, well I just got certified, what do you say about doing a fitness consultation with me? She was all for it. She had no idea I was a trainer and said had she known that, she would have asked me before. After a great conversation on the phone, I knew this was the last chance to help her.
My own fear began to set in because I felt like I failed her for the last year and a half. I felt like this was the last straw. It is either we fix this now or she is walking out as the same person who walked in. She would feel disappointed and I would feel like I let her down. I kept telling myself “don’t fuck this up.”
We met for the fitness consult. We talked about her goals, both short and long term. We talked about any limitations she had. Once I got the rundown on her, it was time to work. We went through our hour session and when I tell you this woman gave me ALL she had, literally left it all our there. I was so happy for her.
Everything was going good (at least I thought) and I had her attempt a modified push up. After multiple attempts she could not do one and this was after holding a six second plank. After not being able to do the push up, she sat on the floor and began crying. Keep in mind this is my first client EVER.
In my head, I am freaking the hell out. I am like “oh no, water is coming from her eyes. WTF did I do?” I sat down on the floor next to her and just said hey, what’s up?
What she told me broke my heart, “I am mad at myself for letting it come to this.” I told her “Don’t be. This is the best thing you could have done for yourself. You just gave it your all and that’s all you can ask for out of yourself.”
We sat there for a minute, she gained her composure and we finished the workout. I thought she might walk out and she will tell you that she thought about it.
We walked into the office and before I said a word, the tears started coming again. At that point, I closed the door to give her some privacy. I just sat there and asked her why she was crying. She said she can’t do this because it is too hard.
I told her she can look at it that way or she can look at this way…
You walked through the doors. That is a big deal. I explained that there are so many people who can’t even gain enough courage to do that. You did.
You made a good choice when you called to ask for help. That is another victory.
You could’ve walked out the second you broke down, but you didn’t. You finished the workout. Another victory there.
You held a plank for six seconds. When is the last time you held a plank for one second? These are all victories. The smallest ones can sometimes mean the most.
After we talked, I did what any sensible human being would do. I gave her a hug and I told her she did great and you should be so proud of yourself. Don’t focus on the negative. It is time to focus on yourself and focus on the positive.
We started discussing the options. I suggested twice a week for a year and without hesitation she said yes. Based on her goals and where she wants to be, I felt like we could reach them in a year’s time.
Anther victory for the day. I just locked in my first client and I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous. I mean she just invested her time and money in me. I was not about to fail her.
I knew this was going to be a long road. Physically, we were starting from ground zero. Emotionally, same thing. I have to know when to push and how to push. I also have to know when to scale back. This was something I vowed to figure out…quickly.
The first few weeks were rough for her. I knew that. And She had no problem telling me. She kept using the dreaded “c” word…can’t. I would get texts that read, “I can’t do this. I am ready to quit.” I just kept reassuring her that would be a terrible mistake if she did. I would remind her that each day she made it to the gym was a victory.
In the first few weeks, although she didn’t believe it, I could tell she was getting stronger which was going to help us work through more advanced workout regimens.
We still faced our bumps in the road as she had another meltdown or two but we worked through it. Her back had began to hurt when we were doing our workouts. One day she ran out into the parking lot in tears and hysterical. I followed her out and she sat in her car and cried. She apologized to which I said don’t do that. You don’t have to apologize. I know how hard it is. I was ready to send her home and not count the session because tomorrow is another day. Let’s refocus for the next session. She toughed it out though.
She decided to go to a chiropractor, which helped. So we were back in business.
After getting to really know Brandy and becoming more comfortable with each other, she felt what we were doing wasn’t working. I could visibly see the changes whether she believed it or not.
I decided to ask her if she wanted to do measurements so we can have some tangible numbers to get a grasp on. She said yes. For me as a trainer, I don’t like asking people to do measurements too early because it honestly feels invasive to some degree. I believe in baby steps. You have to walk before you can run.
When Brandy saw her numbers, she was taken back and it gave a little punch to her confidence. That is very common for most people, which is why I don’t always suggest it right away. I just told her I guarantee these numbers are much better than when she started. One way or another we were going push through this next obstacle. The only problem with numbers is we can obsess with them a little too much.
For Brandy, it was the number she saw on the scale. We reached our first plateau because she told me she had not been dropping weight. We began talking about adding a third day to her training. Here she was, this shy woman who had anxiety walking through the doors talking about doing a third day of training. I also gave her a cardio circuit she could do on the treadmill on her days she was not with me. We were going to get past this plateau.
Not only was Brandy changing physically, but mentally. The I can’t became I will give it a shot. The tears of regret turned into a burning desire to change. She got a small taste of what she had been capable of all along and it ignited a fire in her.
I have always said this since becoming a trainer, “the physical side of health is great and I do believe in it, but I would much rather someone be comfortable in their own skin over looking like a super model.”
Brandy was getting there. I remember one Saturday she told me she had wore a bathing suit for the first time in years. It was a suit she was not able to fit in the previous year. In fact, I got that text the day of the gender reveal for Finn, my son. I remember thinking well shit, this really is going to be a good day. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was for her. I told her to rock the fuck out of it and enjoy some drinks by the pool. I am pretty sure she did. This was her first real good taste of having a positive body image. You can’t put a number on that.
I began to hear more stories of friends and family telling her how good she looks and not just that, but her attitude was changing. I believe it was her mom she was visiting when I received a thank you text from her. She had told me her mom said she noticed a difference in Brandy not just physically, but she seemed happy for the first time in a long time.
The mental health always takes precedent over the physical health for me. I think it is important for people to feel comfortable in their own skin and once you have that, you can really dive in. This was Brandy.
After working on three days per week, we talked about adding a fourth. This girl is on fire! The numbers keep going down and she wants it.
Although we were doing good, I wanted to test Brandy in another way. We had begun talking about September Slimdown, a group-based training program focused on building a healthier lifestyle. I know the word “group” still scared the hell out of her.
I was not going to take no for an answer on this one though. I told her, you keep telling you’re thinking about it, but I promise you’re going to do it and I am not going to let up until you do.
I had participated in the program before and I have seen people who were thinking about quitting and they did that program and it changed them. You meet people within the gym. It gives you an added sense of pride for our club. I knew this would be good for her. I thought this could be the tip of the iceberg for her. This would break her from her shell. I pushed her onto one of our other trainers because my time slot was not feasible for her.
We were already making incredible progress by the time she decided to do it. At this point, Brandy had reached the under 200 mark, a weight she has not seen in 20 years. She had hit her first MAJOR milestone in less than six months.
We recently just had our weigh ins for the competition and she has dropped even more weight, body fat and inches. We are officially rolling.
Remember when I said I like seeing the mental changes more than physical? As great as it is to see someone achieve an amazing goal like that, she is getting a loud mouth in the gym and I have to tell you…FUCKING. LOVE. IT. I love that she will jab back or talk smack to other trainers. We had a member BBQ last weekend and we do an obstacle course and the person moving around and having a great time with a large group of people isn’t the same person I talked to in March.
That person was scared, intimidated, shy and wanted no part of the gym. That person wanted nothing to do with anyone in the gym.
Now we have someone who is diving into all areas of the club. September Slimdown has given her the courage to go into the group fitness classes and Brandy joined our Burn program which is part of our Live Programming sessions.
Who the hell is this person? I liked old Brandy, she was great. This new Brandy is a different beast though and with her being my first client, it really feels good to see her crushing it in every sense of the term.
Here’s to getting to a healthier place. I can’t wait to see what 2018 is going to bring us.