Category Archives: Out of the Kitchen

Taking the First Step

A little more than a year ago, I joined a gym and started working with a personal trainer. I never intended to work with a trainer; I walked into the gym and joined because it was next door to my office, it was cheap, and they had a swimming pool where I could do laps. One of the perks of membership was a complimentary (read: included) fitness assessment with a trainer.

His name was Quayshawn, but he went by Q. I was more than a little nervous when I met him, but I maintained an aura of confidence and calm. I had worked with a trainer before—one who pushed me to the point of injury, and another who pushed me to learn how to box, and quite well at that. But he had flaked out on a few too many appointments, and eventually disappeared.

Q went through some basic warm ups with me, and then wanted to do push-ups. I shook my head vigorously. “I can’t do them,” I said. “Not in 7th grade gym class, and not now.”

But instead of insisting I put myself in a plank position and push, he had me stand near a bar that came up to about my hips. He stood next to me, leaned over and demonstrated the move, showing me how to position my shoulders directly over my hands and keep my abs tight. Go down, then push up. Simple.

It took 5 tries and a whole lot of sighing, but I did one. And 10 minutes later, I forked over a bunch of money and signed up for 24 sessions of training.

And so the work began.

Today, I am still working with Q two mornings a week at 7:30am. He left the gym next door to the office, and I followed him to another one ten blocks north. Not only can I do multiple reps of push-ups on a lower bar, I’ve also learned how to do sit-ups and Sumos and kettle bell swings, chest presses and deadlifts: exercises I could never do before, and never thought I would do. And what keeps me from hitting the snooze button every Tuesday and Friday when the alarm wakes me at 5:30 is knowing that by training muscles I never used and pushing myself to keep going, I look and feel better now than I ever have. And admittedly, I like it when I hear, “Wow. You look great. What have you been doing?”

I have Q to thank for a lot of this—he’s an excellent teacher and a great motivator, not a bully. And by showing me that I could do a lot if I really pushed myself, he inspired me to maintain the discipline to get out of bed early and just do the work, to have patience and trust that the results I wanted would come if I kept working at it.

I’ve tried to apply the “it’s just working a different set of muscles” idea to writing, but I haven’t been able to maintain the discipline to do it consistently. I think I’m afraid of producing bad material.

Today I took the first step in lighting the fire under me (or within me) to kickstart this blog writing and keep it going. I registered for a food writing class with the Institute for Culinary Education. It’s only two sessions, and they don’t meet till December, but if I’m going to meet a bunch of new people and workshop my writing, I want to be ready.

Today the work begins.