A little while ago I entered a competition on Fitness on Toast’s Instagram page. The prize was a Personal Training session with Faya herself and as I entered I thought it would be something I would really enjoy doing. I’d been lucky enough to train with her already at adidas’ The X earlier and thought she was great at motivating me to push that little bit harder and to make sure I did all the moves correctly. I was over the moon happy when I found out I won – after all a PT session with someone I like? Yes please!
And then the nerves kicked in. I know that a PT’s goal is to help the client (in this case me) reach their own personal health and fitness goals but hot damn, I am most comfortable as a solitary creature by the watering hole. Recently things are slowly changing but I still prefer to exercise on my own, by myself, with no one who knows me.
Does anyone else turn into an insecure and also (surprisingly) highly competitive mess when they work out with someone else?
Just me then. It’s a like a natural reflex, a way to defend myself. At least in a group session even if I know everyone there eventually I forget about what they are doing on concentrate on me but this PT session was 1-to-1. Nowhere to hide and I would have to suck it up and, in the words of Nike, just do it. Of course that bravado vanished when the day (a beautiful Saturday morning) rolled around. I’m not ashamed to say I even thought of cancelling. Well I am a little ashamed, since I am an adult and need to adult more often, but hey-ho I didn’t cancel and that is all that matters.
The session was taking place on a track in Regent’s Park which was a twenty minute walk from Baker Street Station. I could have taken the bus but decided to walk there in case I got lost and couldn’t make the session (hope springs eternal). Strolling through the park was the perfect way to start the morning – as I mentioned the sun was shining and runners and cyclists were the only people in the park at that time in the morning. I could hear the breeze rustling the blossoms in the trees and the birds in the massive lake which cuts through the park. It was calming and peaceful and put me at ease.
I knew then and I know now that I didn’t need to be put at ease at all but this was my first PT session ever – I genuinely had no idea what to expect (shouting, tears, lack of movement) so obviously thought the worst (death, embarrassment). When I finally reached the meeting point (early) Faya gave me this massive hug and I hoped the whole session would be like that. We made our way to the track and Faya had with her a mat, a kettlebell, and a bag with something in it that I couldn’t see but would find out about soon enough.
At this point I was more relaxed than before: I was here and it was happing, that I couldn’t change so it helped but still nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I don’t know if Faya could sense my absolute terror (only a slight exaggeration) but she was warmth and kindness itself, chatting to me and explaining exactly what would happen. As I had arrived early would I be fine with a longer session? Of course I replied and surprisingly was fine with that. I remembered how much I love working out and Faya’s lovely demeanour had made me start to think that this would not just be OK but also be fun.
Faya already knew about my knee injury and before we started she made it a point for me to let her know if anything we did hurt my knee and I promised to do so. This is such a little thing but I have been to so many classes and one particular event where injuries are not in the slightest bit important to the instructor. When that happens it always feels as if I am not allowed to say that my knee hurts and need to take it easy, which is stupid I know but the fact that Faya brought it up without me having to could have made me weep with gratitude.
We started the session with a run around the track to warm up – even though the sun was shining it was early and May in London so pretty cold. The run around the track was followed by Bear Crawls, something I had never, ever done before. From a position of all four on the ground with knees not touching the ground but very close you step forward with opposite leg and opposite hand, then the next step with the other foot and leg. The goal is to crawl forward using steps as small as possible so your trailing leg is never fully extended. It sounds easy, it really does but holy crap on a stick that all needs to be done without lifting your hips and bum into the sky. Mine wanted to do nothing more than salute the sun and it took all of my core strength to keep my back and bum level.
Then it was the reverse, so with my face and chest facing the sun and sky and crawling back. This was followed by reverse mountain climber kicks, as fast as possible with Faya counting to 30. This was all repeated and I no longer had the energy or breath to be nervous or worried. What followed was an hour of intense sweat and loads and loads of laughter: sprints with the contents of the bag, resistance bands (so me sprinting and Faya holding the bands around my waist), sit ups, squats, kettlebell thrusts, kettlebell squats, narrow and wide press ups, and some more bear crawling thrown in for good measure.
Faya knew exactly when I needed distracting and entertained me with stories and anecdotes (we even had a brilliant discussion about Beyonce’s Lemonade) but more than that she knew when I needed motivating and I found myself holding myself accountable to her and loved that feeling. Maybe that’s why having a PT is so popular and effective, you hold yourself accountable to someone who wants to see you succeed. However the one thing I have taken away from the session (more than how to do a Bear Crawl properly) was how to squat properly. When my knees hurt I don’t squat properly but when they don’t hurt I compensate for previous pain and don’t do the move properly. Also I didn’t know there was a right and wrong way of squatting – you just bend your knees and that’s it.
Well no, that isn’t it and Faya showed me exactly where my weight needed to go to do the move properly. I will never forget this: the way to strengthen my knees is to do more conditioning exercises but they will only be effective and pain free if I do them correctly. I am genuinely so grateful for that because in this case ignorance is definitely not pain-free bliss.
When the session was done I was dripping in sweat and very, very happy. I had never wanted to go to a PT session and wouldn’t have if I hadn’t won this competition. I am so glad I did – not only is Faya a wonderful person and PT but I learnt a boat load of new moves and how to do them properly. This is a definite win.
The next day I groaned when getting out of bed – I think my legs were on fire!