Friday, February 20, 2015

Oh, how I wish to be sick

It has been a while since I wrote a blog.  Two weeks to be exact.

Part of the reason is the effort of running a business and looking after a husband with a dodgy heart, but part of it is de-motivation.  De-motivation of what you may ask.  The answer is simple:  I realised most people do not want to be healthy.  The average Joe Blog is happy to get sick and pay medical bills of thousands of dollars rather than prevent this sickness by doing a little thing called exercising.  And I built my entire business around showing people how to become healthy, it's what I do best.

The psychology fascinates me:  people will spend a lot of money on manicures, the hairdresser, massages, even a dog groomer (hopefully for their dogs) to make themselves feel better.  But when they look at me, a personal trainer, they make a big deal of telling me how expensive personal training is.  How they can’t afford it.  And oh, they don’t have time either, they are way too busy.  Too busy eating, too busy manicuring and pedicuring.  In short, exercise takes effort.  Pampering does not.  Pampering wins.

Unfortunately those are also the exact same people who will be most confused when they eventually fall ill.  Because sister, if you don’t look after your health you WILL get sick, whether you like it or not.  Your expensive hairdo and nails are not going to stop weight gain.  It will not stop diabetes.  It will definitely not stop the cold and flu.

Exercise.  That is what stops all those nasty things that will eventually bite you in the butt. Oh, I hear you say, I take the cheap road, I’ll go to the local gym and do my own thing.  Join a group class, walk on the treadmill while I read a book.  Fine with me.  But let me predict what can happen based on years of hard experience:

1. Your first month at the gym is great.  Everything is new, the instructors are cute, you are loving it.  Winter kicks in.  The days are dark and gloomy, and so is your will power.  You find one excuse after another not to hit the gym today.  Or tomorrow.  Or the day after.  In the meantime that gym is taking your money because you signed a contract, and let’s face it, they really really don’t care if you don’t show up.
2. You join a group class.  You love the vibe and energy, everyone around you is going flatout.  You don’t want to look stupid so decide to join the flatout gang.  But you forgot they have been doing it for a long time, and you have not.  You are too stiff to walk the next day, possibly injured.  You decide the pain is not worth it.
3. You don’t know how to use the machines at the gym.  They look so intimidating, you are convinced you need a degree in science to operate them.  You finally pluck up the courage and ask that cute instructor to help you.  They show you how to use the machines really quickly.  As in “let me show you how it works in 10 minutes”.  When you come back tomorrow you will have forgotten half the instructions.  So you feel stupid.  And feel everyone is watching you.  Believe me, they are.

After all that time you decide to spend money on a qualified and knowledgeable personal trainer.  Suddenly you see results (providing you listen to your trainer), and because your exercise is based on appointments you will show up.  Because bosses don’t cancel, right? You have a person who really cares waiting for you.  No more injuries, and there is variety in you exercises.  You realise McDonalds is no longer your friend, and your health improves by the day.  Imagine that…

My suggestion?  Stop imagining and spend your money on a personal trainer instead of a manicure.  Just book in for one session to see if you like the personalised attention, no contracts no fuss.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Real trainers

Thanks to “reality” shows (think Biggest Loser) a lot of people see personal trainers as yelling, oversized, intimidating bullies.  They see personal trainers as inhumane beings from outer space who are super fit and ready to conquer the world, hell bound on making you cry and suffer.  And humiliate you.  Don’t forget the humiliation.

Oh please.  These type of shows should be called “non reality” shows, or “let’s see how stupid you really are” shows.  Folks, a decent personal trainer does not go around yelling at you.  They won’t tell you how bad you are, how fat you are, or point fingers.  If they do, get rid of them.  Quickly.

The number of people who avoid me in a social environment because I’m a personal trainer can’t even be counted on the fingers of both hands.  When I eventually ask them what it is that scares them the word “Biggest Loser” pops up 98% of the time.  That oh so popular “reality” show succeeded in scaring people away from personal trainers in just a few months.  Wow, now that is what you call effective marketing…

The world “personal” says it all:  a personal trainer should be a qualified professional who is there for you, and you alone.  They are there to guide you.  To make sure you are motivated to turn up for an exercise session.  To make sure you do the best you can (all without yelling and calling you names).  To give you advice, and correct you if needed so you can exercise safely.

Did you know that qualified personal trainers spend years on their studies to ensure they are the best they can be?  They get to learn how the human body moves, how it is affected by injuries.  Yes we even learn how the mind is affected.  We spend hours and hours of our lives learning about you, often on top of full time jobs and families.  All so we can make sure you get the results you need, safely.  

The most common question I get from clients?  Hey Claudia, what did you do before you became just a trainer.  Just a trainer, I say.  It took many many hours of blood, sweat and tears to “just” become a trainer.  But thank you for asking, before I was just a trainer I was a software developer.  That little fact causes shock in most people.  You mean you gave up a lucrative career in IT to become a personal trainer?  Yes, that is exactly what I did.  It gives me far more satisfaction seeing people succeed in their individual goals than it is to hear someone complain about their computer software.

So the next time you meet a personal trainer, you know, “just” a trainer, spare a thought for the time that person spend away from their family to make sure you reach your fitness goals.  Safely and in one piece.  Then get your butt out there and exercise.  There is a reason this world needs personal trainers, and that reason is you:  you need motivation, dietary advice and safe exercising.  In a kind and supportive way of course, no yelling. Because without that exercise you will end up a weak, overweight and stressed out slob. Just saying…

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lessons from Leon

When I was at pre-school I met a boy called Leon.  We became best friends, inseparable. And when it was time to go to “the big school” we went together.  I spent my entire weekends at Leon’s place.  He lived far away from me, a good 30 kilometres, but I was a good cyclist, and always found an excuse to visit.  Leon’s mother was a single mother overflowing with kindness, and she was a great cook too.  My childhood memories are riddled with images of Leon and I playing superman, batman, wonder woman.  You name any super hero and we’ve done it.  And pancakes.  Lots of pancakes.

Slowly Leon and I moved towards our teenage years.  We cribbed homework, played pranks and still played super hero’s.  We became aware of the fact we were “different”. Awareness of boy and girl was growing, and one day I asked Leon:  what is different about you?  Leon, being the smarter of the two, had already figured this out, and said:  I’m not telling!  Wow, that was the wrong answer.  I remember shoving Leon into a corner of our school, and pulling his pants down.  Because surely any difference has to be down there! Yeah, I was right, the difference was right there.  Shock shock horror.

We turned 14.  My parents decided to emigrate to South Africa.  Leon laughed, said that in the future I will be married to a black man and have brown kids.  But will I stay in touch?  Of course.

Time went by.  Internet had not been invented yet, Bill Gates was still finishing school himself.  Leon and I wrote letters, but as time went by the letters became less.  And less. Eventually it dried up all together, and Leon and I continued our separate lives.  I missed him terribly, but mail was slow and my parents were always moving house.  When internet did make an appearance I searched for Leon but never found him.

Many years went by, and I eventually saved enough money to return to my hometown.  I went for a bicycle ride with my aunt, and with a shock realised the area I was in:  I cycled right past Leon’s house!  I stopped, told my aunt about Leon, pointing at his old house.  Oh dear, my aunt said, that was your friend?  Yes, I said, do you know him?  Yes, she said, everyone knew him….. turns out he gained a lot of weight and had a heart attack.  He died. His mother, sweet soul that she always was, found him.  And was so upset that she too died of a heart attack right beside Leon.  The town talked about it for years.

Did this influence my decision to start Basic Orange?  Deep down I believe it does, I still miss him today.  And we would have been 48 now…. It taught me at an early age that being overweight can kill you.  Does kill you.

So if someone says to you being overweight can kill you, and you laugh it off thinking that will never happen to you, well my friend think again.  Because your clogged arteries and excessive body fat can kill you any time, any day, no exceptions.  Just ask Leon.