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January 22, 2004

Working Out Solo Not Working Out

http://www.jewishjournal.com/health/article/working_out_solo_not_working_out_20040123

I'm an exercise addict who does it all -- hiking, running, spinning, dancing, aerobics and Tae Bo. I run the Santa Monica stairs and jog the UCLA perimeter. I'm hooked on Pilates DVDs, "Buns of Steel" tapes and hit the gym three or four times a week. But this September I hit a wall. I no longer found my workouts challenging or effective. I wanted to do more than lose five pounds. I wanted to sculpt my abs, firm my figure and mold my Jew.Lo tush. So I settled down and started seeing a personal trainer.

I'd experimented with a few trainers in the past, but each was more underwhelming than the last. The sessions felt more like a Stepford tour of the gym than a custom-tailored workout.

Marcus was different.

"What are your fitness goals?" he asked.

"I want Jennifer Garner's body. But I'll settle for wearing a smaller pair of Seven jeans."

Marcus laughed and said, "This is going to be fun."

After reviewing my exercise history, Marcus explained that my current workouts were building muscle, not burning fat. If I continued these routines, I would always look toned, but never get thinner. To decrease my measurements, I needed to keep up my heart rate during resistance training, ditch the weight machines and use my own body as resistance. He created personalized interval workouts, alternating three-minute cardio bursts with 10-minute resistance sets. Cardio, legs, cardio, arms, cardio, stomach, cardio.

Marcus challenged and encouraged me. He was fun, supportive, and my bod looked rockin'. But after eight weeks of whipping me into shape, Marcus broke off our relationship.

"Carin, I'm sorry, I can't see you anymore."

"What? Just like that, you're leaving me? You're leaving my abs?"

"Something personal came up."

"Something or someone? Is it another client?"

"No, it's another woman -- I'm going on 'The Bachelorette.'"

In Los Angeles, men usually ditch a relationship for a hotter woman or 10 minutes of fame. Marcus was leaving me for both. He was leaving for two months and taking my goal of looking hot by the holidays with him.

I was crushed. I was dependent. I felt totally abandoned. Marcus made me sweat and burn and push myself beyond my own expectations. Even during my off-day workouts, I felt his presence over my shoulder. My "looking really sexy now" shoulder.

How could I workout without him? I got great results from our sessions together and didn't believe I could sustain those results on my own. I'd get zaftig and soft and I'd never wear my skinny jeans again.

After my disaster with past trainers, a trade-in trainer was not an option. So I went cold turkey. I sweated it out solo without a patch or a 12-step aerobics class to help with the transition. At first, I suffered from trainer withdrawal; I felt less motivated and quit each set a repetition or two early. But slowly, I regained my discipline. I diligently followed the workouts Marcus choreographed for me. I recalled his tips and hints and tried to emulate our sessions.

My solo workouts were fairly effective, and I mostly maintained my slimmed down shape. But now I'm jonesing for the real thing. Marcus' small adjustments to my form resulted in huge changes to my body. His specialized workouts addressed my specific needs and our scheduled appointments made me take responsibility for my habits.

So when Marcus returns from his reality show stint, I'll work with him weekly until I meet my fitness goal. I know, I know trainers can be addictive and my weekly fix is a wallet drain, but this bachelorette is falling off the wagon. 'Cause I never know when I'll need to look svelte for a rose ceremony.

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