Sunday, November 13, 2005

Struggles with exercise... (not "feeling" the moves...)

So, if you've been following this blog, you know that I started trying to get some regular exercise, starting about the time I knew I'd be going back to school in the fall. I struggled with feeling completely overwhelmed and intimidated about even going into the gym and it constantly felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps backward.

I hired a trainer, who showed me some machines, stretches and designed a program I could work through.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that the last training session left me a little frustrated. That was an understatement, actually.

That last session has been playing on my mind ever since it happened last Tuesday. There's something that I can't put my finger on, but I'm very close to throwing in the towel, so to speak, and just saying, "Screw it! I'm quite happy living in my head. To hell with trying to have a fit body, too!"

The problem arose when we were going through the workout and I was attempting to do the one free weight exercise I'd been shown.

I don't do it right.

Worse yet... I don't know what is "right" (as in, correct form or position) and what is not. I struggled with it. Chris struggled to get me to understand. And it didn't work.

He asked something to the effect of, "Can't you feel whether it's right or not?" ("It" being either the weight or my body or both.)

In any case, the answer was, "Er... no!"

I made the mistake of telling him that I simply try to mimic what I see and memorize what's written down on my sheets of notes. The thought of trying to "feel" anything never really crossed my mind before.

My trainer seemed flabbergasted. He took it for granted that I "felt" when things were either "right" or "wrong". I took it for granted that I memorized my sheets of notes and perhaps "heard" (as in, replayed in my head) the verbal tips he'd given me for corrections in our sessions. We simply took different things for granted and realized that we had completely different understandings of "training".

I asked, "What's wrong with just memorizing what is written down on my sheets?"

He didn't really seem to know what to say, other than, "That's not where I want to go with this. You should feel it." He did say that was something that came so naturally to him that it was hard for him to understand that it wasn't that way for me... kind of looking at me in a way that said, "How can you not get this?"

Those words were never said... but...

I felt about two inches tall. I felt like saying, "I'm not stupid, you know!" But I didn't... I did, however, "feel" embarrassed... even ashamed. I suddenly felt as if I'd let out some deep, dark secret... that I didn't even know was something bad!

Don't get me wrong... Chris is very professional and is a good trainer. I am quite sure he had no bad intentions. He just seemed genuinely puzzled.

This has been playing on my mind a good deal. I have come to the following conclusions:

1) I always knew that my "learning preferences" or "learning styles" were primarily visual and then auditory. I prefer to gather information by reading, then by hearing it. (This is probably one of the reasons I like having my iPod with me when I exercise... the auditory input of the music helps me to focus and enjoy the activity more...) Kinesthetic learning is not something that comes easily to me. I simply do not process kinesthetic information very well -- and apparently, I'm worse at it than I thought!

2) I really have no idea what it means to "feel" whether I'm doing an exercise right or wrong. (Do any of you? Am I really a freak?!)

3) I am completely frustrated and I feel even more incompetent now than when I started training. No one told me about this part of "training"! I thought training was just that -- training -- as in, train the muscles to do certain things. No one said anything about "feeling" it. I don't get that -- and I feel nauseatingly stupid that I don't get it.

The fact that I have a new throbbing pain in my left knee has got me thinking that this "feeling" in my knee might be a sign from above that maybe getting fit is not for me after all...


Elliot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ipodmomma said...

I am not a weight training exercise type... I'm barely an exercise type at all! just do it, so I can have a piece of cake... :)))

I think the best way, as elliot pointed out, is to do what makes you feel good.. I tried running last year, and it just wasn't me. but I love walking... you have to find what fits into your lifestyle, and what you enjoy, or it won't last long...

might this be a bad time to enquire if you still want some fruitcake? :))) on my profile page there is an email link... let me know... and you'll be in my thoughts!

btw... where can I see "Shalom y'all"?????? sounds fabulous!!!


madcapmum said...

Huh. Well, I'm much more like you than your trainer, Sarah. You're now thinking about what it means to live in your body - do you figure he's considering what it's like to live a more cerebral existence? Sounds like the trainer needs a little more training, to me.

Sarah Elaine said...

Elliot - I agree with you in that no one can tell anyone else how to "feel", but as for designing my own plan... well... that's why I hired a trainer! I have little to no idea what I'm doing in the gym... I am vehemently independent in most aspects of life, but not when it comes to exercise. The only thing I lack more than confidence in the gym is knowledge about what to do!

iPodMomma - Will hook into your blog shortly. And yes, would love fruitcake!

Madcap - You always have good food for thought. You're right... I do have a rather "cerebral existence"!

ipodmomma said...

wonderful!! BTW... can I add you to my list 'o blogs?


kt said...

SARAH: you are tooo funny! i dunno about feeling it. after reading about kinesthetic vs visual...i can't figure out what I am. but i too love the ipod. i wonder why? & when my bro (consummate weight lifter/all-around work-out-aholic) starts listing stats & muscle groups & lectures on heart rate, etc...i start to glaze over. don't get it...don't know if it want to get it. i just wanna be able to run! never have gotten into wts. according folks like bro: TIS VERY GOOD FOR YOU! esp. good to do wt-bearing exercises as you age! osteo--and all that yuk. i wish i could stall the clock (actually back up a few yrs, less saggy), stay at this stage of my kids' lives, not get any more saggy, grey, or wrinkly...and have joints in working order to run my brains out. i always think, when i lose a bunch of this flab, then i'll start doing wts. i dunno sarah, it might never happen.

what about asking some of the others in the gym. i remember everyone looking like they knew what they were doing...but not having a clue myself. i'll bet WE are not alone! i think the BEST CASE SCENARIO for wt lifting is when you have a PARTNER. one that will spur you on, yet not indimidate you! try it baby!
love your vim and vigor! keep it up. do NOT give up! see, once you master the INSIDE of the gym, you will be the master of all the worlds of working out! then you can teach numbskulls like moi!
kt=) GOD bless you, little chica!

A. said...

Sounds to me like your trainer needs a little more time reflecting on how best to instruct his students. It's never good to belittle them, no matter what!

As for you Sarah, how about giving yourself a pat on the back for having been going to the gym steadily for several months now. There's no way you can now look me in the eye and say that this whole experience has taught you that you're not cut out for the gym...whatever! You're already doing it! And you've been doing it for a long time!

Chris provided you a great introduction to some basics in the gym. That's what you needed and it sure sounds like you've got tons of support to keep going - with or without a trainer!

You've done great so far -- now the challenge is to keep it going! (and I think we all know or at the very least, suspect, that you're not one to shy away from a challenge...)

Sarah Elaine said...

KT - You're the one who is funny, girl! As for workout partners, I have one, Carmen, who's been great. Was going with someone else, but it didn't work out. Oh well! And you are hardly a numbskull! You're my inspiration!

A. - OK, let me be clear. Chris has been a good trainer. (I thought I said that?) I can't blame my inabilities on someone (anyone!) else.

As for challenges... sigh... you DO know me (sometimes better than I know myself), don't you?!

sissoula said...

It's always surprising when sth that seems so self-evident to you proves to be totally veiled to sb else. These moments when perception pivots actually provide the best opportunities for teaching and for learning, if you let them -- I just wonder if your coach thought about it after the fact the way you did.

Are you going to talk to him about it?

Sarah Elaine said...

Sissoula - Your points are always insightful.

I did talk to him at the end of the session. I made a point from the beginning to be honest. (No point in lying, is there?)

Whether or not it is discussed again remains to be seen.

H. Stallard said...

I think what your trainer is trying to say is that when you do the exercise correctly, body position, posture, technique, etc. then you "feel" the specific muscle or group of muscles as they are being worked. I was having the same problem on one exercise, the trainer told me to arch my back and immediately I could feel the tension of the weight on the target muscle group.