Ode to the Personal Trainer You Didn’t Know You Needed

Henry Luehrman
by Henry Luehrman
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Ode to the Personal Trainer You Didn’t Know You Needed

Dear Scoop, my randomly matched, relentlessly optimistic “free-trial” gym trainer —

I’m worried you may have missed the part about my interest in just this one sample session. What began as an innocent ploy to outpace Sweaty Dan on the treadmill has finally come to a head: I am about to spend every dollar I have in the name of fitness.

Our session left me uneasy, Scoop. It’s not the fact that you made me guess the age of your hairless, Spartan body (62, incredibly) within minutes of meeting you. It’s not the fact that no shirt seems able to contain your Mr. Clean-size torso, nor that you have black belts in “actually, I forget how many” martial art practices. It’s your stoic, unwavering confidence that I could look just like you with “a few small tweaks” to my lifestyle.

Perhaps you’d admit to understatement: In the span of 60 short minutes, I’ve learned that most of what I know is wrong. My standing posture undermines my right lower back; my “walk is impressive but needs work.” All the cardio I’ve indulged in the past few years has been “inefficient” at best. I am “drinking the wrong kind of water.”

I want to at least dialogue with you on all these points, Scoop, but I’m scared — and you’re holding the bench bar above my chest as you speak. You’ve chosen to skip adding weights this round (“don’t let them control you”) and instead are just pushing down until all my muscle groups “hit complete failure.” You clench your eyes shut to feel for that (temporary?) point, and I worry you aren’t seeing the panic in my eyes. “Breathe,” you say, and I’m glad for the reminder.

Later, you throw me a towel as we review this fever dream of a Monday morning. I’m going to buy, you say:

  • a jar of plant-based protein powder
  • five gallons of oxygenated alkaline water
  • a jar of men’s multivitamins (“Put some hair on your chest!” you laugh, then — “seriously, write it down”)
  • and three months of meal-replacement supplements (you don’t bother to explain those).

“Three months,” I say, looking at the brochure. “I don’t know if I can…”

“Yes, you can,” you say with a nod. “Don’t ever underestimate yourself.” You get up and offer a painful handshake. “I’ll see you next week.”

I guess that’s it, then. Because I want to tell you just how low the funds are in my bank account, Scoop, but this handshake is excruciating and I now remember how good of an investment you say this is. Maybe I don’t need to fix that strange-colored water coming out of my kitchen faucet. So I smile and say “absolutely,” and then stagger over to ring everything up.

On my way to the locker room I give Sweaty Dan a wink. Dummy doesn’t even know what kind of water to drink.

About the Author

Henry Luehrman
Henry Luehrman

Henry Luehrman is an LA-based hamburger enthusiast and lover of plush armchairs. He often starts his runs with absolutely no idea where or how far he’s going. Usually, he finds his way back again.


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