One of the many reasons I hate working out is that it inevitably brings me into contact with that most loathsome of creatures, the personal trainer. My apologies if you are one of these people … but you should probably drown yourself. I’m trying to think of anyone else who, in the course of their job, thinks it’s OK to wander up to someone who is sweating and miserable and offer them advice. And I just can’t.
Today, the trainer got me before I was sweating. (You can safely assume misery: I was at the gym.) My friend Caryn and I had just arrived at the gym, and were sitting on a mat stretching. I was trying not to groan too loudly or complain too much. Caryn was pretty happy. She’s a much nicer person than I am.
The trainer came over to us, crouched down in front of me and said, “Now, ladies, you know better than that! We don’t stretch when our muscles are cold!”
I grimaced at him, and in the brightest possible tone said: “I’m sorry, but I actually don’t like it when people give me advice while I’m working out.”
“Oh, you’re one of those, are you?” (And here he gave me one of those smiles where the person’s eyes stay all cold and hard and, just looking at them, you can totally understand how there are serial killers roaming among us for years and no one notices.) “Well, I’ll just tell your friend … but I’ll speak up, so you can hear me too.”
I’m not kidding. That’s what he said.
Caryn inclined her head politely and asked him why we weren’t supposed to stretch before working out.
I interrupted: “Whatever he tells you won’t be true two years from now. They change their minds all the time.”
He laughed. (Soullessly.) “That’s true! That IS true. But that’s because science advances all the time and–“
“–They have no idea what they’re talking about. NO IDEA.” I sprung up and headed over to the elliptical trainers. Caryn trailed after me, looking at the trainer apologetically. “And since I’ve been working out since I was six*, I think I know what I’m doing.”
Basically, I’ve stopped listening to anything they’ve “figured out” about health and exercise. Here’s what you can count on, and the rest you can toss:
1) Don’t do a lot when you haven’t been doing anything at all, or start doing a lot more when you’ve only been doing a little.
2) If it hurts, stop.
3) If you do more and eat less, you’ll probably lose weight.
4) Smoking is bad for you.
5) It’s better to eat fresh food.
6) If you deny yourself all the time, you will go insane and eat the entire dairy section at the neighborhood bodega and they’ll call the cops and by the time the cops get there, you’ll be sitting in the middle of the floor in your fat pants, covered by ice cream, crying and rocking back and forth. That’s just what I heard.
7) Having a drink now and then probably won’t kill you. But that’s a drink, Chuckie.
* Doing the Jane Fonda Workout with my Mom totally counts.