Trust.

Today was a body part at the gym day.  (I honestly don’t know what part of the body we worked out today because somehow GunShow managed to make them all sore.  Maybe shoulder day?  Maybe bicep day?  Pretty sure it wasn’t leg day, though he did still manage to get them involved and they are now steadily twitching as I sit here typing in agony.)  He was a bit under the weather with a sinus infection and he decided to take his unhappiness out on me.  Ok, I don’t know that last part to be completely true, but it is a very likely scenario.  I told him to take the time off to rest.  He told me I wouldn’t work out if he weren’t there.  I told him I would.  He apparently knows me too well. I would have gone to the gym.  And I probably would have half-assed it in a virtual class.  I love the virtual classes.  But, I also admit that I don’t push myself in nearly the same way he does.  Hence my need for his services!

But, the conversation also got me to thinking.  I sometimes do weights when I’m not training at the gym with him.  Again, it’s not the same way.

wheelchair lat pull downwheelchair lat pull downI don’t do some weights because I would need help (i.e. a seated lat pulldown [I’m sure the “seated” ).  I need help pulling the bar down to even do the exercise.  Sometimes I lose my balance.  I’ve never fallen.  Or even come close to falling.  But it’s still a really scary feeling when you have no control.  And that’s why I like having him there.  I know GunShow won’t let me fall or hurt myself.  I trust him.

 

I know that I’m a different kind of client.  I need more attention because things that aren’t an issue for other people are possibly problematic for me.  Like sitting on a weight bench.  A normal client can just sit down.  I have to transfer off of my wheelchair onto a narrow bench.  I have to know that I’m not going to fall off equipment.  Or that I’ll be able to get back up if I get on the ground.  These are considerations that I think about nonstop when I’m at the gym.  And that’s why it has to take trust.  My trust in him has grown as our relationship has developed while I’ve trained with him.  I’m willing to try different things that push me way [read: WAY WAY WAY] past my comfort zone because of that.  If I don’t trust my trainer (physical therapist, doctor, whatever) I’m not going to push myself or let them push me.  I’ll play it safe.  It’s once we’ve established that level of trust that I’m willing to go out on the ledge (so to speak).  And I don’t trust everyone.  Or many people, for that matter.  And if I don’t have the trust connection with someone, I will completely shut down.  That’s why I left a couple physical therapists prior to joining this gym.  No trust = not pushing myself = wasting my time and theirs.  But you have to understand how scary it is doing things when you can’t feel that you’re supported on the ground by legs that are meant to stabilize you and having a core that isn’t quite up to snuff.  It’s intimidating and daunting.  Even though past therapists would tell me to trust that my legs are there and still supporting me, it’s nearly impossible to trust that when you can’t feel them.  So when I can’t trust my own body, I have to trust the person who is working with me.  I have to trust my trainer.  I have to trust GS.

Another example: today we did timed bicep curls and I set the weights on my legs for very short breaks.  I had the weights resting on my hands because it’s scary putting weights on my legs and not knowing if they’re hurting my legs or not.  GS didn’t want me to cut off circulation to my hands by holding the weights.  I told him my fear of accidentally hurting my legs and not knowing and I could see him thinking about that.  I don’t think that’s something he had thought of before.  And I could literally see the wheels in his brain turning.  And then he said “Do you think I would let you do something to hurt yourself.”  It wasn’t accusatory like how dare I not trust him.  And it wasn’t feeling sorry for himself like he was sad that I didn’t trust him.  It wasn’t even really a question. It was a statement of strength.  I know he wouldn’t let me really hurt myself.  He knows that I know that.  And I moved my hands and let the weights rest on my leg.  And I did not get hurt.

Well, My legs didn’t get hurt.  My biceps are completely on fire.  But I suppose that was intentional.

Ode to GunShow

I love my new gym.  Seriously.  It’s just a really comfortable place with good energy.  (No, I’m not getting all new-agey. I just mean people there are super friendly and they usually play good music.)  I like everything except for my new personal trainer: GunShow*.  (Please see below for *.)  I hate him.  I’ve never hated anyone so much in my life.  I thought Drill Sergeant and 5-0 were rough on me.  But they were physical therapists and were more inclined to not push me too hard. (Drill Sergeant was a little more aggressive than 5-0.  But I still had some tricks that worked for leniency.)  I think personal trainers are just built differently.  Literally and figuratively.  Pain is gain. Sweat is fat crying.  And other such motivational sayings.

What makes GunShow even worse is that he was in the Army and had to rehab after an injury.  There is literally no pity in him for me.  He pushes me to my limit and then adds 5 more pounds.  He is quick to tell me when I have “4 more” but neglects to tell me when I’ve stopped counting and did 2 more than he instructed.  Jerk!

The hubs was his teacher in high school so on some level I think it’s payback for long held grudges.  I asked him and he denied that, though I swear I saw him rubbing his hands together like some evil genius.

The worst part is that there is no distracting him.  With my physical therapists, I could always get them distracted.  I had one who I could get to massage me for the entire session.  I would just tell her that my legs and shoulders were tight from sitting and pushing all day.  The next thing, I’m snoozing on the table.  The hubs would get so mad that I would get away with that and tell me I had to stop that.  What I heard was “Do that every time?  Challenge accepted.”  And 5-0 loved to talk about the physiological aspects of everything I did.  He’s roll over the skeleton and show me how everything worked.  That took up half the session.  But, with GunShow, I can’t distract him for anything.  I do try too!  His response “You think I can’t multi-task?  Keep going.”  I think I threatened to punch him like 3 times today because of how hard I had to work and how sore I was from Monday.  That’s what happens when I work for the straight 60 minutes and become sore and tired.  Maybe once I give him nice throat punch he will let me have more breaks.  But, somehow I think that would lead to more reps or some new torturous activity.

I hate this guy so much that I spent the last hour looking up personal trainer memes to bombard him with.  That’s the first passive aggressive step before throat punch.  You have to work your way up the aggression ladder.  Here is the first one from my new arsenal of memes:

personal trainer 10 more

 

Ok, and for those of you reading this, replace hate with love.  It’s only been one week and 2 sessions with him (though the soreness in my muscles would indicate differently) but I think he’s actually an amazing trainer.  And I’m always up for a challenge and looking for opportunities to fight when someone doesn’t give in to me and let me have my way.  My physical therapists (specifically 5-0 and Drill Sergeant) were so amazing and I loved working with them.  But, it wasn’t enough to make me stick with it.  I can already tell that this is going to be a much, much different experience.  And I’m not just saying that based on today’s conversations about metal music and festivals.  The fact that I enjoy talking to him is just icing on the “get me in shape” cake.  [And yes, I am aware that I probably shouldn’t be using sugary cake metaphors when talking about getting in shape and my personal trainer.  Give me a break- it’s only been 1 week at the gym.]

*GunShow was his choice of name for this blog.  He’s a goofball but since he wouldn’t stop increasing the weight on the machine I was using, I gave in.  I was hoping he would reward my generosity by going easy on me for the rest of the session.  He did not.  So for now I will acquiesce, but I do reserve the right to rename him “Jerky J” at any point in time if he becomes too hard on me.

Wide open spaces

I’ve been slightly MIA for the past month as I was spending a few weeks on a much needed vacation in the great state of Wyoming.  When one thinks of handicapped accessibility and wheelchair convenience, they don’t often think about Wyoming.  That state is more often associated with cowboys and dusty trails.  This picture seems to sum it all up quite succinctly:

wyo ramp

My take on Wyoming’s theory of accessibility is “Look, we’ve given you a ramp.  You figure the rest out.”  There are ramps, but many have inch or more lips.  Or the handicapped spots at curbs don’t often have ramps to get onto said curb.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love this state.  In fact, I seriously want to move there.  It just isn’t for the faint of heart.  A state full of hearty, hard-working people means that they don’t roll over (pun intended) when adversity hits.  Many places have gravel drive-ways and roads.  This is hard to wheel over.  Hard, but not impossible if you have upper body strength.

The hubs tried to help me so many times.  But I would always snap at him to not help me.  He probably looked super rude to other people.  The kindly cowboys probably judged him for not pushing me.  My motto is: I don’t need no stinkin’ help.  Maybe I should have that made into a t-shirt.  Or a bumper sticker for my wheelchair.  And he can just point to it when people look.

For all of the accessibility drawbacks, Wyoming is so nice.  The people are beyond nice.  If there’s a place I can’t go, I’m sure someone would offer to pick me up and carry me.  In fact, that kind of happened.  At one touristy spot, the ramp was so steep and the doorway so narrow that I needed not only the hubs to help, but a complete stranger.  She’d asked me several times to help and I turned her down.  When she saw us struggling she finally just came over and helped.  I felt so bad, but I guess I need to start realizing that some people genuinely want to be helpful.  It’s hard to not feel like you’re putting them out.  I refuse to ever be a burden.

Maybe I’m going to start a new exercise trend called the Wyoming Wheelchair Workout.  Wcubed.  Everyone gets a wheelchair and pushes for 2 miles up and down hills on a gravel road.  I did that once (and in the name of honesty, it was only 1 mile) and I was sore for 3 days.  It was amazing!  I’m going to do a video and write a book about it.  Get some celebrity endorsements.  This workout is going to make me millions!  No one steal my idea.

Gym rat- day 3

Today was day 3 at the gym. 3 days in a row! I think you get a medal when you go 3 days in a row, right? Yesterday we went in the afternoon and the gym was full of big muscly guys. I think I prefer going in the morning where it’s more women and older people. That’s more my speed. I’m not quite at the “lift 300 pounds and grunt really loud so that everyone knows you’re lifting 300 pounds” phase. Give me a couple weeks. One of my clients is a big muscly guy and has promised to train me once I win his case. I’ve bartered with him- I won’t charge him anymore for his case and he will train me. He said he’d train me for free if [WHEN!!!] I win his case. I have 2 witnesses to hold him to that!

This morning the owner of the gym was there and was super excited that we were there too. I know this because he exclaimed “HI!” and waved with both of his arms over his head. Not quite a 3-day medal, but close.

Me on the arm bike at the gym

Me on the arm bike at the gym

I’ve learned that people are more awkward around me at the gym. They don’t want to crowd me or offend me by assuming things. Case in point: This morning I was using weights in a free weight area. I happened to be next to a balance ball apparatus. It’s the thing that looks like half a balance ball with the bottom being a flat board. (In looking it up, I see it’s called a Bosu Ball.) I think you stand on it and try to balance. I used one back in the day during PT (like 2006). I was never any good at it.

Anyway, a woman came up to me nervously asked if I was using it. I tried to not laugh when I said “no” because she was so sincere and nice about it. She probably felt awkward because it was right next to me and didn’t want to offend me by assuming that I couldn’t use it.

This made me realize that people generally are nice. And respectful. And nonjudgmental. She could have easily just assumed I wasn’t using the thing. But she was worried about hurting my feelings. That was very nice.

So, I think I’ll go back for day 4.

Arm Bike

I love the arm bike.  I used to hate using an arm bike when I was walking.  I felt defeated- that I should be using the regular bike or elliptical but because my legs weren’t as strong, I was using the arm bike.  But now that I’m wheelchair bound, it’s become an awesome workout!

The arm bike at my gym requires me to transfer to the little bench.  I don’t know if it’s removeable.  The arm bike at my physical therapist’s clinic has a removeable bench where I can wheel right up and stay in my chair.  I don’t mind transferring though.

The workout I did today (3/29/15) consisted of 15 minutes:

1:00 warm-up

4:00 forward [moderate] (L4)

4:00 backward [moderate] (L4)

1:00 forward [rigorous] (L5)

1:00 backward [rigorous] (L5)

1:15 forward [moderate] (L2)

0:45 forward [rigorous] (L5)

2:00 cool-down (L2)

This definitely got the heart rate up and the sweat pouring.  Trick: keep your back straight and your abs tight for a great core workout.  Don’t twist from side to side.

Gym Rat

Ok, that title may be a *bit* optimistic or even *slightly* misleading.  I went to the gym today.  First time.  I guess that doesn’t quite qualify me as a gym rat or a regular.  But, I do intend to go back.  So that’s something.

Just like a majority of Americans, the Hubs and I joined a gym at the first of the year.  There’s a small gym by our house which is owned by a super nice guy who is really excited about helping me get healthy and in shape.  He even moved weigh equipment around for me.  We dutifully joined in early January.  Today was the first time we went.

I’m really good at excuses. “I don’t feel good.”  “Tomorrow I have PT and don’t want to wear myself out.”  “It’s Tuesday.”  Whatever the situation, I can come up with a great excuse to talk myself out of going.  I actually packed my gym bag one morning and went to the gym on my way home from court.  I pulled into the parking spot which is literally in front of the door to the gym.  I sat there for a minute and then chickened out.  In my head, people were going to stare at the handicapped girl in the wheelchair and judge me for being there.  The hubs has been busy with work and we hadn’t found any time to go to the gym (Sounds an awful lot like an excuse, I know).

Going to the gym is always a good idea.  I never get there and think “Man, I’m bummed I went there today!”  Even if I’m sore, I don’t regret going.  The soreness lets me know I actually did something!

Cut to today- we decided to go.  I put on my gym clothes as soon as I got up.  That’s always half the battle.  Luckily, the hubs as motivated to go.  I’m always on the fence.  It sounds like a good idea, but do I really want to?  Today he wanted to.  He put his workout clothes on which got our dogs super excited cause they thought it meant that they were going on a walk.  So, 20 minutes later, after he returned from a quick walk with the dogs, we left for the gym.

As we were parking, another car came into the handicapped spot next to us.  Out comes an older man with one leg.  Not even a prosthetic.  Just one leg and crutches.  The reason why this is noteworthy is because I kept seeing him all over the gym (again, it’s very small).  He would balance on the one leg and do the overhead pull down bar weight thing (yes, that’s the technical term I believe).  Nothing makes one feel like a whiner than to see a one legged man killing it in the gym.  Talk about inspiration!

I did my thing on the arm bike.  I used to think the arm bike was kind of a weird machine.  But now that it’s my go-to gym aerobics machine, I appreciate it.  Talk about an arm, shoulder and core workout!  The trick is to sit up (not propped up on the backrest) and flex your ab muscles the whole time.  Yikes! I also used a pec machine, which made me feel like I was going to fall off the little bench thing.  I did not.

This little outing taught me A) I’m able to use quite a bit of machinery in the gym; B) I should definitely stop feeling sorry for myself; C) I should also stop being so conceited and thinking that people are looking at me, cause the only people who glanced my way were just waiting for me to finish with my sets.  [Well, I also caught a few glances when I took a selfie to send to my mom and dad as proof that I was in the gym.  They tend to not believe me unless there’s photographic proof.  My dad said I used photoshop and my mom said I took a photo in front of a gym poster.  Haters!]