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My trainer owes money all over town (maybe)


January 19, 2012

I couldn’t say for sure, but I have a hunch that my trainer, Mike, is involved with some shady people. Last week was the second time in the four months I’ve been seeing him that he showed up with a black eye. The first time I asked him what happened, he uncomfortably told me that he didn’t want to talk about it.

“I am an idiot,” was the only explanation he offered.

The second time, I didn’t ask.

Mike is in his late 40s, tall and thin. He has a silver-tinged beard and long hair that he keeps tucked behind his ears. He wears glasses and dresses like all of the other trainers in athletic pants and sneakers.

I like him because he is older than the other trainers and works hard to compensate. I like him because he has bad knees and patience for me. I like him because he takes pride in his work. I can also tell that he needs the money.

I joined the gym after looking in the mirror and realizing that I had recently gained a considerable amount of weight. Something had to be done, I thought, and quickly.

In my brain, I would blame the whole thing on quitting smoking. In actuality, who knows. It also could very well have been my terrible diet and lack of exercise. It’s a fairly common joke that editors get fat eating all day while sitting comfortably behind a desk. It’s not far from the truth.

The first time I went to the gym I stood awkwardly in my new sneakers and shiny shorts. It felt like everyone was staring at me. I didn’t know where to begin. I tooled around with some weights and ran on the treadmill for a mile and a half. Not very good.

The gym membership came with one free training session, so I set it up and arrived on time feeling good. It was a Saturday and for a (not so) nutritious breakfast I had had a bagel and large coffee. I was done after the warm up. By the end of the hour-long session I thought I was going to die. I literally couldn’t lift my arms. The next day, I felt great.

I signed up for eight more sessions. It was slightly more affordable than I thought it would be, and if I wanted to get serious about getting in shape, I needed someone to teach me how to work out. That someone was going to be Mike. I liked his goofiness immediately; he made bad jokes and danced in place while we trained.

It was a few weeks before he asked me what I did for a living. Gradually, we got to know each other. I found out that he recently moved back to NYC from LA. He likes movies, watches a ton and we bonded over the must-see-titles available on Netflix Instant.