“Why is it called a medicine ball?” I asked my personal trainer, as he was hurling one in my general direction.
“I’m not sure,” he responded disinterestedly.
“Medicine is supposed to make a person feel better. This isn’t.”
He laughed, but in that appeasing way that made me feel small, both in body and in mind.
Personal trainers despise indifferent clients. I know this because I’m a card carrying member of the indifferent client club. In return, indifferent clients like me despise personal trainers. The trainers view us as undisciplined and unguided sweat-generators who use poor techniques to go along with poor attitudes. We view what they do as necessary, but we liken them to non-military versions of boot camp instructors. They have coiffed hair and wear t-shirts too small for their biceps. We are bald and wear large Led Zeppelin t-shirts to cover our expanding guts. They hug the more attractive gym patrons. We repulse the more attractive gym patrons. They yell—a lot. We beg them to stop yelling. They are serious. We are sarcastic.
So why utilize the personal trainer? The answer is simple and can be broken into two separate, but equally important pieces. The first piece is because, as part of the contract I signed, I get three sessions with a personal trainer. That’s right. We indifferent clients tend to be tightwads with our money, and if we are going to pay for something, you better believe we are going to use every aspect of it. The second is because, despite abhorring the idea of paying someone to yell at us, it’s a better alternative than using the machines wrong and straining something internal that turns out to be an important part of daily functioning.
It was never really my intention to utilize the services of any of the personal trainers. In fact, I took a perverse pride in turning down their repeated offers. In my younger days, using poor technique on the machines didn’t negatively impact my body. Lately, however, I develop a sore lat muscle just by looking at the machines incorrectly. So, I begrudgingly decided to accept the offer of one personal trainer, even though he looked like a cross between Ivan Drago from Rocky IV and Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day.
“Let’s start out on the bike,” he said enthusiastically.
I rolled my eyes and began pedaling.
“Great job,” he said, using two encouraging words to justify increasing the miles per hour by several hundred percent.
“Am I almost done with this?” I pleaded. “I could’ve biked home by now.”
“Five more minutes!”
“You said that seven minutes ago.”
He then asked me what my goal was for working out.
“Not dying,” I said.
“So, more cardio then?” he asked, smirking.
I don’t like it when someone uses my sarcasm against me.
The rest of the hour proceeded with the expected give and take between a motivated personal trainer who loved his job and an unmotivated exerciser who just wanted pizza. A little more cardio, an introduction on how to properly use the various machines, and finally the aforementioned and exceedingly misnamed medicine ball.
Then, it was over. He asked me to return for a second appointment, but I politely declined the offer. I had been yelled at a little too much. My body was sore and tired. My spirit was broken. My Led Zeppelin t-shirt had been ruined by my profuse sweating. Robert Plant would be so disappointed.