I had what I call PTSD. Personal Trainer Stress Disorder.
I like to work out hard, but I don’t respond well to being in the zone where the red lights are flashing the entire time. Do you know what I mean? Those warning lights that start flashing “STOP” in our minds when the workout goes past a certain point. Challenging exercises are one thing. Non-stop level red is another. There is a point where I check out mentally, because I am teetering on the verge of a self-esteem crash.
I want to work hard, and I want results. But I want to feel like I am succeeding, not failing. This, I have found, is a small window and takes a lot of communication between trainer and client to find. And a lot of trust.
Over the years, I have heard the story of PTSD often from women in their forties, fifties and sixty-plus who have worked with trainers at big gyms. I am not saying all young, male trainers are insensitive to women over 40. That is not at all true. I certainly wasn’t being honest with Jack that his workouts were leaving me feeling bad about myself instead of empowered.
But if we’re going to work with a trainer, they must understand that jumping might make us pee. And that we’re terrified to hurt our backs, our knees or our shoulder again. And having our heart rates so high the entire workout sometimes leads to feeling out of control with food, especially sugar. And too exhausted or sore to function well for the next day or two doesn’t work well, either. We’re busy women.
I heard a story last week about a hair-stylist whose trainer worked her arms so hard, she was too sore to work for the next two days. I don’t know. That just doesn’t seem beneficial to me. You can get really strong biceps and triceps without having to call off work to allow them to heal.
There is a window. Not too easy, not too hard.
We must be clear that we are working out in part to strengthen our bodies, but what means even more to us is how we feel about ourselves and how we function in our lives.
Our self-love muscle must get strengthened, too.
So how do you strengthen your self-love muscle while working out? You honor who you are and you listen to your inner voice. If the red lights start flashing, take a break and walk on the treadmill until you feel ready to resume. If you feel fear that you are going to get hurt, tell your trainer. If you feel like you are failing the entire time, it is no problem to back off the level a bit. You have all the time in the world to get stronger arms, legs and core. This is a long-term journey.
What is most important is each workout helps rebuild your belief in the fitness process, and your ability to succeed at it. There is one gift that you should take away from every workout, and that is the feeling of, “I did it!”
Success. Victory! Do that over and over consistently, one step at a time, one day at a time, and your self-love muscle gets as strong as those beautiful arms, legs and core.