Saturday, December 31, 2016

Fitness after 50. Week 3. Working with a Personal Trainer

These posts take a lot of courage to write.  Here is the premise.

2016 was quite a year in the health department.  It began with strange, lower abdominal pain and ended with two surgeries six weeks apart, along with a challenging three month physical therapy regime.  Hoo boy!  What a year!  During this down time, I gained a couple of pounds each month.  'Probably normal given such circumstances.   Now that I've been released to work out again, I am not quite sure what to do or where to begin.  If you'd like to read previous posts, here they are

This moment in time is quite overwhelming.  The goal of physical therapy was to get my injured side back to 80%, so there are some balance issues, one side is weaker, and, frankly, quite a bit of fear.  I've decided to write a series of posts about my journey, both physical and emotional.  I am certainly not an expert, but I'd like to tell you what works for me.  What am I?  A fifty something grandmother that enjoys mud runs, heavy lifting, and aerial fitness.  You can expect to see recipes and nutrition ideas along with book reviews, basic workouts, flexibility and running schedules.   I hope I have the courage to talk about the failures and disappointments, too.  We'll see!  Suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.  Right now, I need all the support I can get!

Week 3.

Let's talk about what comes with gym memberships.  Since my physical therapist was asking me to spend time on specific machines daily, I had to look for a gym with those machines in it.  I did some research online and emailed questions to a few locations.  One was found with everything needed, so I asked for a tour just to be sure.  The poor owner seemed a bit startled when I wobbled in with my big crazy brace.  He asked lots of questions during the tour and offered to write a plan for me, at no charge.

This is a very common practice.  If your gym has a "Get Started" free session with a personal trainer, take advantage of that!  If you went to a hardware store and weren't sure about hammers, you'd ask someone that worked there, right?  If you went to a craft store and were confused about glue, you'd find an  associate in one of those smocks, right?  Same things goes for gyms.  If you're uncertain, ask one their employees.  Not only will they answer your questions, they are comfortable demonstrating correct form.  Is it easy to ask for help?  Nope.  Well, at least not for me.

Allow yourself to be a beginner.  

It's OK to not have all the answers.  Really!

(That pep talk was totally aimed at me!  I'm not very brave these days!)

This trainer had LOTS of questions for me about my injuries, surgeries, and wanted to read my physical therapy protocol.  After a bit of time with the protocol, he suggested a full body workout plan focused on range of motion with strict instructions to begin slowly and immediately stop any movement that made me uncomfortable.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday

5 minute warm up of my choice (usually slow stairs or stationary bike)
Body Weight Squats - 20 reps
Push Ups - 15 reps
Hip Bridge - 20 reps
Assisted Pull Ups - 15 reps
Body Weight Lunges - 10 reps on each side
Plank - 30 second hold

Complete Circuit 4 to 7 times

Tuesday and Thursday

Stairs - 10 minutes
Row Machine -1000 meters
(rowing slowly, focusing on full range of motion especially in my lower body)
Stationary Bike - 20 minutes

Before attempting, I ran all of it past my physical therapy team.  They gave their blessing, but repeated the trainer's warning to begin slowly and immediately stop any movement that made me uncomfortable AND reminded me these movements were in addition to what they requested.  ;-)

This plan was a good tool for me.  I definitely needed a specific set of exercises to get me past my fear of moving again.  When I first began, I could only crank out three rounds.  It wasn't painful during the workout, but I was somewhat sore the following day.  Nothing horrible, just my muscles adjusting to the exercise.  On the days the trainer happened to be in the gym at the same time as me, he would ask how I was feeling.  One morning he noticed I was leaning toward my strong side when doing squats.  He kindly let me know and gave some helpful tips on staying balanced.  His support was really nice.

If gyms are not for you, for whatever reason, I found a book and a couple of videos for beginners.  If you choose one, will you please heed the warning to begin slowly and immediately stop movements that are uncomfortable?  I said "Please".  ;-)

My public library offers several fitness videos, and, of course, has a nice selection of books about different types of exercise.  I always check my library first!  ;-)

Have you ever taken advantage of a free session with a personal trainer?  If so, what was your experience like?  If not, what do you think would be most helpful?

;-)  -Marci


  1. You are braver than you know. Every time you write about facing your fears, getting help when you need it and following through; you are encouraging someone else who is fearful of trying something hard! Bless you!

    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving an encouraging comment! Writing about this struggle has really helped me move forward! -Marci

  2. Happy New Year!!
    I stopped by to thank you for visiting and was pleasantly surprised t read this series that you are posting!!
    I suffer from many health issues and I decided to look into the book that you mentioned. This lead me to find out that the author has a PBS show that is on daily so I have now taped it to see if it would me something that I could do.
    Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi, Debbie - I love seeing the posts on your blog, especially at Christmas! Your attention to detail is so impressive. I had no idea about your health issues. Will you please let me know if the "Forever Painless" program works for you? I hope you feel better soon! -Marci

  3. Happy New Year and bravo to you. Never easy, always hard - at least to start. In my case hard always, think is more of flaw in me.
    Having had 3 joint replacements have my own issues with physical therapists. With first knee had p/t that pushed me to agony and several tears. Takes time for those new knee joints to limber up/loosen a bit. Then with 2nd.knee year later my leg blew up like balloon, at least twice as big, not able to bend at all. At least found out what in heck was wrong with foot and lower leg, have had lymphedema for few years before , no doctor could seem to figure out what was wrong, Had major swelling after surgery and many times for weeks before. P/t was agony, ended up doing better moving as in real life to get that stubborn knee to work. Still have lymphedema but have learned to live with it, just have calf/foot twice the size of other. When am sitting try to always have leg elevated. Also have severe arthritis in left ankle.
    Third joint replacement was right shoulder which was very painful constantly for months before surgery. Had very hard time raising arm over head or in front of me. Had been 7 yrs.since 2nd.knee replacement. Also when I went to p/t therapist was pretty annoyed with home health and therapist for not sending me to p/t one week after surgery. Still cannot raise arm straight up or in front of me. Range of motion is still poor. Head therapist where I was going took me on since I had so much difficulty. Would lie down on my back, he would gently pull my arm to side and behind me, then hold for few seconds to minutes, that hurt so much. Finally had to quit as couldn't afford to keep going without any progress. I seem to do better exercising on my own and with aids at home. Therapist told me might not ever get range of motion back as it was but to keep working at it. I am 76, have severe osteoarthritis.
    Won't be too much longer before have to have left shoulder replaced and am left handed. One good thing, didn't have to have rotator cuff replaced in right shoulder, understand that's real hard recovery.
    Have to commend you for your efforts and sticking to exercise, reading your posts is encouraging me to try harder, and sometimes don't work at it at all. So thanks and keep up good work, all your efforts, you are a champ in my eyes. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. What a journey! I hope you can get more mobility in your shoulder. It's interesting that you mention some therapists being more effective than others. I found that to be true as well. Even though they were all very professional, I worked best with the ones that gave me directions, but stayed back. The more I felt in control of the movements the better the sessions went. Thanks again! -Marci

  4. Praying for health and happiness for you in 2017

  5. This summer when I quit my day job to start blogging FT I began a workout routine. It's only 15 minutes MWF but I've stuck with it and it has made a world of difference. At 53 I feel so much stronger and 15 mins 3 times a week can do it. Good for you and I'm sure you are helping so many by sharing your experience.

    1. I would love to blog FT! Congratulations! Do you mind to share what movements you are doing during those 15 minutes? -Marci

  6. So excited for you, I have been working out since I turned 55 and it has made me feel younger! I feel in better shape than i did on my 30's. Great post, Maria

  7. Happy New Year and what a way to embrace it! Good luck with the new regime. I hate gyms but have decided that I am going to walk more and take up swimming this year in a bid to be more healthy. #POCOLO

  8. Happy new year and wishing you all the best with this and your health this year. I agree with others I bet you're more determined and stronger than you think, and you will do it I'm sure. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo


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