Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Training With Bruce

I worked out with my trainer, Bruce this morning and we talked about my goal to run a half-marathon this year.  He agreed that weekly cross country skiing would be excellent training in getting me used to two hours plus of continued cardio exercise.  He said for every mile you plan to run you should consider one week of training, so for me that means 12 weeks.  I have more than enough time no matter which marathon I choose to do.

These days I eschew the cushy comforts of a gym and train at the Balmy Beach Club, a social club situated on the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto's famous Beaches where I live.  The Balmy has been around from many, many years which Mark and I joined last year.  It has a bare bones fitness room equipped with weights and a few cardio machines.  It's not fancy but it has everything you need.  We used the fitness room all last winter and will continue to do so this year as well.  We hired Bruce to come in as our guest and train us when he's not running his three-season boot camp.

I met Bruce at Lation Fitness when he ran the first 12-week boot camp I attended.  I loved Boot Camp and any other sort of training paled by comparison after that.  Though Lation stayed in business for another six months after I finished Boot Camp, no other work-out I did there ever made me feel as happy. 

When Lation closed it's doors (the business had been struggling for quite some time, mostly due to mismanagement) I was at a terrible loss as to where to train next.  I got a few trial memberships for a couple of different gyms, including the big chain ones like GoodLife, but the work-outs didn't feel safe to me and the locker rooms were often dingy or overcrowded.  The more I shopped around for a new gym the more depressed I became.  I wasn't confident I would go on working out by myself and I didn't have the room to do it at home.  I actually found myself fighting tears on the treadmill at GoodLife one morning, mourning for everything I had lost; the close proximity (right on my corner) the friendly, well-qualified staff and the incredible support they had given me.  Finally, it occurred to me to get in touch with Bruce.  I emailed him and he offered to get me into the Adelaide Club which he had once managed.

The Adelaide Club is a very posh fitness club where executives train.  It's located in the sub-basement of the head office of Canada's largest bank.  It's the sort of place where membership comes with the job.  Bruce called the membership people who are old friends of his and arranged a special deal for me.  They waived the initiation fee and gave me a good monthly rate.  I was only a member there for six months but I always felt out of place.  There were hundreds of machines I had no idea how to use and no one would show you unless you purchased personal training sessions.  At Lation they had used only free weights and believed in a full body approach to fitness so these things baffled me.  The exercise studio space was cramped and airless.  There were some very good trainers and I enjoyed working with them but one played only heavy metal in her cardio classes and at 6:00 a.m. I don't want to listen to AC/DC.  When I gave up my full-time job and no longer found myself going downtown I gave up my membership at this gym and wasn't sorry.

When April rolled around it was time for Boot Camp to start again and this year Bruce ran it on his own without any affiliation to a gym.  I hadn't seen him in 6 months and was delighted to be working with him again.  I just 'get' his style of fitness; could have something to do with the high regard for the military both of us have.

Bruce is not my first trainer.  I first trained with Yolanta at Lation Fitness.  After the disaster with my back I was given Yolanta as my trainer because she had been a physiotherapist for 25 years and had taken up personal training as a retirement job.  Yolanta was an Olympic gymnast, earning a Bronze medal for the Polish Women's team back in the '60's.  She was a tiny, energetic woman who looked nothing like her 65 years.  She would have easily passed for 40.  She completely rehabilitated me, concentrating on proper form and stance.  She was absolutely militant about it!  To this day I can still hear her saying "Pull belly eeeen!!!"  Eventually she got through to me, building core strength in me and helping my not to rely on back muscles.  I worked with her for 5 months until Boot Camp started.  Then I graduated to training with Bruce.

Bruce is a great guy, no nonsense and very laid back.  He doesn't scream or yell like TV trainers do but he does push - and boy! did he push me today.  What everyone should look for in a trainer is good qualifications and Bruce's don't come much better.  He has a degree in Physical Education and is a Master trainer.  He believes in a solid, no frills approach to fitness that suits me well.  These days I train with him for an hour once a week.  He gives me a written transcript of the program we do which changes every week - and gets harder, as it should.  I repeat this program on my own once or twice more during the week together with one day I devote completely to cardio; mostly running on the treadmill, but when the weather gets better I will be outside on the boardwalk.  I also try to fit in one Pilates class per week.  When he's not training me, Bruce has other clients, including my husband, but we are the only people he trains at the Balmy.  The rest of his clients have posh home gyms.  Lucky them!

I honestly believe that every dollar I spend on personal training is money well-spent.  I didn't know anything about physical fitness when I first met Bruce and what he has taught me has changed my life.  I would forgo any number of vacations, meals out or other treats just o be able to go on affording him.  Fortunately, my husband feels the same.  He loves bragging to the young men he works with about how hard he trains and how fit he has become.  I know the feeling.  It's a good one.

Stay tuned for more fitness stories.

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