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I’ve cleaned our house for years, not because I love cleaning, but because I love a clean and orderly place in which to live. And when it comes to exercise, it is not much different. I don’t love exercise, but I love an orderly and responsive working body!

Back in September of 2015, I started working with a personal trainer. We hit it off right away. The reason I sought her out is because I have Fibromyalgia* (since 1999) and a 62 year old body, which is not improving in condition. Despite my frequent walks and more or less consistent sit-ups, yoga and stretches, I could tell things were going in a negative direction strength-wise. I’m not ready to deal with an increasing number of preventable aches and pains or sit in a chair and wait to die.

I thought perhaps if I shared a bit about this experience with you it might be of some value. We all have weaknesses in our bodies. I don’t dwell on mine, just accept they are there and try to work with what I’ve got. I knew when I needed help, and that I had reached the end of my limited knowledge of yoga, aerobic exercise, and physical therapy exercises, all of which have actually helped me maintain a reasonable level of flexibility…but not strength. I just didn’t know where to go to get the help.

Gym ball doubles as office chair, floor doubles as exercise studio

Gym ball doubles as office chair, floor doubles as exercise studio

The fact that the nerve cells get overly excited with any kind of unusual movement means that most exercise classes and trainers who believe you have to ‘push through the pain’ are completely inappropriate for me. An added difficulty is, when supplementing new movements to my exercise regime I need to do them very nearly every single day for months before the muscles finally ‘remember’ the movement and don’t get sore when I skip a couple of days and then start up again, which is inevitable in life. I needed a trainer who understood all of this and could help me work with the abilities I have. As seems to be my current, very good relationship with the Universal Energies, Alexandra appeared in my life! She is a qualified ‘C.H.E.K.’(Corrective, Holistic, Exercise, Kinesiology) trainer, which is a particular protocol that tries to balance one’s movement with diet, sleep and chi, appropriately tailored to individual needs and goals. I filled out several hours’ of paperwork, and a 10 day diet diary at the beginning, so that she could evaluate my needs. Also I read a couple of books she suggested so that I could better understand her approach, but she tells me not everyone is amenable to the books, and that is okay too. 

Having worked on diet, sleep hygiene and some moderate physical movement for years, most areas of concern are in pretty good shape. We reviewed them and made minor changes. For the physical movement, however, we started with a whole new program of stretches and strength training. The stretches were specifically targeted to correct certain problems with back and groin pain, and began to help immediately. We are talking very targeted movements here. She started me with very low level core strength training and we began building. I was going great until November when my right knee didn’t like a particular move we tried and swelled up, and then in December my left foot had a problem and again recently the groin and back pain tried a resurgence. So we backed things up and did some remedial work. Such was the benefit I experienced with the core strength exercises and stretches, I pushed myself to continue doing what I could even while finishing the photo challenge—all very challenging indeed.

We are into 6 months of training now and I am pleased with the areas already improved. I can’t say enough good things about the process, even though I still don’t like exercise! I do stretches and strength building for about 25 minutes each day, and I take a walk. All up, the time invested is about 1hr to 1 1/4 hours a day. And now I am able to take one day a week off without the muscles reacting too badly. In fact a day of rest about once a week has proved to be very helpful…and normal.

2 kg free weights resting on yoga mat

2 kg free weights resting on my yoga mat

The cost and time investment are things most people, including me, think about when considering a ‘personal trainer’. It sounds so exclusive and, one assumes, expensive. Alexandra and I have only had about 6 one hour sessions (in addition to the initial consult) in the six month period. Partly, that is because I do the work. If I have questions she answers me via email, but would come if I needed her to. She visits me at home, tests my levels of accomplishment with the recent program, and supervises the new moves to replace ones I have mastered. A couple of days later she follows up with a pictorial summary of the updated program. All for $80 a session. The initial consult which took two hours, and for her, even more time afterward, cost $120. I have invested $100 in a gym ball, which now doubles as my computer ‘chair’, and is great for my back, and some graduated free weights which cost less than $60. It is very affordable, especially when considering the costs of going to the physical therapist and chiropractor which I haven’t needed since we started. In addition, my posture is improved, I feel stronger and, in the occasional instance where my old problems recur, the experience is brief and less intense than previous episodes. Usually I only miss one day of training and am back into it the next day with no pain.

I doubt I will ever love exercise. I have come to that realisation. I know it would be good for me to do more, like I know it would be good for me to never eat sugar again. But there’s a limit to these things.

(*Fibromyalgia is a muscle condition where the nerve cells become overstimulated very easily and cause a variety of symptoms. In my case if I overdo it, I ache all over and feel as if I’m coming down with the flu. There is an element of depression, too, which, thankfully I’ve only had to deal with a few times, but the symptoms vary with the individual. Also, most people who have Fibromyalgia also have food sensitivities, as do I)