Yesterday, as I worked on accomplishing my task - the second to the last independent assignment of the day - of slamming down and picking up 1,000 warrior ropes, I let my mind wander to take my mind off the discomfort.
89, 90, 91, 92 ...
One of the things that flitted through my brain as I huffed and puffed and kept counting silently, is I wished I'd kept a workout baby-book of sort, something that would have tracked my progress from the first day I set foot in Align Private to where I am today.
My recollection is that when Matthew R. Lister first had me start doing the ropes, he assigned me something like 50, which was a major push. Within a few months I was doing 200, and that felt like a big deal. Now I'm doing 1,000 (my method is 200 at a time, then rest, then repeat that process four more times).
I'm a creature of habit. For example, if I go to La Cabana Mexican Restaurant or Woody's Brew Pub, I don't look at the menu. I get the same thing every time: A fish taco salad and Cobb salad, respectively. If I go to Starbucks, it's either a flat white or a non-fat chai latte. If I'm getting a cocktail (though it's been since last year), a Sidecar is my go-to drink of choice. Meat, rare. Tea, Earl Gray. Coffee, Peet's French roast. Eggs, scrambled. Flower, Stargazer lilies. See's candy (a mere memory), butterscotch squares.
If I were left to my own devices at a gym, I'd settle into a comfy routine where I did the same thing every time. I probably wouldn't push myself much beyond my comfort zone. Why would I intentionally make myself physically uncomfortable, such as by doing 1,00o warrior ropes?
I know. We push ourselves it because it's good for us. And although I'm aware there are high-functioning folks who walk among us who possess the kind of self-discipline to push themselves to more difficult workouts without adult supervision, I'm not one of those people. I need backup. I need prodding. I need workout buddies.
Most of all, I need a trainer to actually make me do things that I would be convinced were impossible.
At least a few times a month Matthew comes up with something that, when he first describes it, or demonstrates it, I am screaming in my head, "No freaking way!"
Case in point, this week there was a move he asked me and my buddy Laura to do: Lie on our back, one leg out straight on the floor, the other bent with the foot flat on the floor. Hands overhead. Now shoot up into a bold-upright sitting position, pointing your straight arms to the ceiling for a full extension. Now lie back down and quickly do it again. Make that 10 more times, or 12, or 15.
My mind protested, and showed me an image of me struggling to sit up even once, and failing.
But that's the weird thing about our brain: sometimes our body is smarter than our brain.
I tried it. I did it. And it wasn't terrible (at least the first 5 or so were OK). If I'd have put money on my inability to do those weird sit-ups, I would have bet against myself.
Then came the TRX straps, which super-planker trainer/client Andrea Charroin was doing in a face-up table plank position, feet on the floor, directly under the contraption, as she grasped the TRX handles and pulled herself up, then touched her butt quickly to the floor, then pulled herself up and did it again, and again. Wow. I couldn't believe it.
She suggested I try it.
"I don't think I can do that," I said.
"Sure you can," she said.
So I tried. I did it. I was shocked. I did 10 reps, with my team yelling encouragement to me as I struggled with the last few.
"Come on, Doni! You can do it!"
I did do it. I felt so proud of myself; just as proud as that day I began doing 100-pound dead-lifts, and 10 consecutive military push-ups.
Another thought that occurred to me during my 1,000 battle ropes is that the best trainers - whether it's Matthew, Tina or Andrea at Align, or a good trainer anywhere - they know when to nudge, when to push, when to let you hold steady, and when to make you give it all you have. And then bump you up again.
It's like that children's book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".
Nearly one-and-a-half years into my Align Private Training what I've finally realized is that once a trainer knows you've mastered one thing, you'll be asked to do more, and more, and more.
If you give a trainer a sit-up, he'll want two more this week, and two more the next week. By the time a year has rolled around, who knows, you may be doing 1,000 ropes.
997, 998, 999, and 1,000!
I should have been celebrating, except I'd just received some disheartening news, an alert of sorts.
"You know those TRX floor pull-ups Andrea showed you how to do? She wanted me to warn you: Matthew is having her do those with only one foot on the floor now."
I trust that by the time Matthew asks me to do those TRX contraptions with just one foot, I'll be ready. Or not.