Recently I gave in to months of peer pressure (at least it was positive peer pressure) and decided to join a gym. Okay, I actually wasn’t pressured that much. I was talking to a friend of mine about how I wanted to try taking yoga and spinning classes. For months she had been going on about how great her gym membership is because it gives her access to all sorts of classes including, you guessed it, yoga and spinning, and it’s cheaper than getting individual memberships to various exercise studios. So finally I joined. Joining was surprisingly easy. I wasn’t talked into anything I didn’t want and there wasn’t much pressure to get a personal trainer. At least, there wasn’t until yesterday when I had my so-called “fitness assessment.”

Now, like most overweight people, I’ve had a gym membership before. When I was 16 I joined a women’s only gym. The fitness assessment at that gym included taking in my weight, calculating my body fat percentage, and testing my strength, endurance and so on through a series of short fitness tests. The fitness assessment at this new gym only assessed my weight and body fat percentage along with asking me a series of questions about my family’s health history. It was all pretty average. And then it turned into an hour long live infomercial about why I NEED to get a personal trainer.

Yep, I sat there for over an hour listening to one of the trainers explain what kind of plan I could do and claiming, “You could work out on your own but a trainer will help to keep you motivated and will teach you the best exercises to burn off fat.” Obviously I had told them that losing weight was my main reason for joining a gym but I also felt like a bit of an easy target because I’m so overweight. As the session went on it started to make me think that maybe I couldn’t do this all by myself. But the idea of getting a personal trainer is impossible for me right now. The “plan” for me to meet with a trainer three times a week for one year would have cost…wait for it…$8134.37.

Um, excuse me?! That’s more than an entire year’s tuition! Never mind that I’m a student whose minimum wage job contract has just ended. Somehow they actually expected me to say, “Sure, that sounds great! Sign me up and while you’re at it, here’s a written contract stating that I’ll hand over my firstborn as well.” I was seething at this point. What was even more frustrating was the trainer claiming that my parents should “be supportive” by possibly helping with the payment. Yeah, my middle-class parents who are already dealing with a ton of financial obligations and my brother’s upcoming wedding. Obviously they have a ton of money to spare. By the time I left I was almost shaking with frustration and what’s worse, I didn’t have time for an actual workout because I had to head straight over to my doctor’s office.

This is where everything gets much, much better. At the end of my appointment I told my doctor that I had decided to join a gym. I explained that I get bored with just doing cardio and weights (which I could easily do in my building’s gym) and that I wanted to try a variety of classes. I also told him about my BS “fitness assessment.” He was great. He told me that first off, he and his wife go to a gym and they had to deal with the same pressure to hire a personal trainer. He also told me that if I wanted, he could give me a referral for a real health assessment at the nearby sports clinic, explaining that it would be completely objective because no one would be trying to sell me anything. Apparently I would be tested on four levels of fitness including strength, endurance, power and flexibility. They may also be able to give me a lot of resources about different kinds of exercises to try and tips for healthy eating. I’m definitely going to go for it.

I realize that it may be kind of cheesy to sit here and write an entire blog post about how great my doctor is, but he deserves some props. He’s thorough, helpful, understanding and most of all, he actually listens to me. That’s why from now on, I’m referring to him as Dr. Awesome.

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