Personal Trainers and Women: Is It About More Than Working Out?

So, one year ago I found myself at the threshold of a gym with the intention of signing on with a personal trainer. Yes, I had been exercising on my own for years. And, like many other women I have attended yoga, pilates, spinning and countless other trendy exercise classes.

So why, on that day, did I find myself ready to sign on with my very own personal trainer? I had maintained my ideal weight for years and was proud of the body that fit easily into new jeans and tight silk dresses. I continued to ask myself -- so why am I here on this lovely day? Well, I had just reached an important birthday and was scared. Scared that I would wake up one day and find myself in pin curls, an apron and in a strange and amorphous body. And I felt that I better intervene quickly before I lost control of who I was and what I looked like.

I had inched my way up to the desk of the gym. The gym was bright, beautiful, and had an energetic vibe. Nonetheless, I was more than a little anxious as I waited to meet Andy B. My friend had recommended him and yes, I trusted her. I did consider heading out the door in those few moments before this Andy B. approached me. He introduced himself to me. I found myself shrinking in the presence of this hulking character with arms that seemed to be larger than each of my thighs. What could I possibly learn from him? Was he really interested in training the likes of me -- a small-framed woman used to body and beauty treatments that involved being pampered? I gathered up all of my resolve and decided to find out. I bit the bullet and signed up for two training sessions for the following week. Bring it on, hulk!

I returned the following week and was certainly in for an eye-opener. This trainer had little mercy for me. "COME ON BARBARA, YOU CAN DO IT," he urged as I felt my eyes sting from the salty sweat of my forehead. "DO YOU WANT TIGHT ARMS, TIGHT ABS ... ? Yes, I said somewhat meekly through my agony. I certainly do.

It is a year later, and I am proud to say that I continue to push through my sessions, some of which are more agonizing than others. And, yes, my sessions are punctuated by humor and connection. Not too much and not too little. It's all about balance. I now find myself addicted to these weekly struggles. Like the dutiful girl and woman that I always was and remain, I consistently schedule more of these sessions. And, yes, I still work with the same trainer. My body seems tighter and more sinewy. I have no added bulk, but I do have more body confidence. If I can do that in the gym, I tell myself, then I can certainly do something of an equally difficult but different nature outside of the gym.

I decide that it is now time to interview the hulk of a man who is my trainer. Nope, he no longer intimidates me. He is relentless but tender. I ask him what in his experience appears to motivate women to seek out a personal trainer. VANITY, he says without any hesitation, followed by some discussion of health concerns. Again, he returns to the discussion of vanity. Yes, he says, women who are entering a new phase of their lives want to look and feel better. And, a funny thing happens, he says, when they are being pushed to exercise muscles that they didn't know that they even had. They become a bit more vulnerable. They vent, they talk, and they appear to relax and release stress. So maybe it's not all about the working out, he says. Maybe it's about the ability to play a little, abandon a professional demeanor for an hour, and wander around in the sandbox of adult life.

He smiles. He has a formula. And now I, too, am on to his script.