Trust Me, I Know What I Want

Not too long ago, I decided it was time to work with a trainer at my gym, with the specific goal of learning how to do a deadlift, squat, bench press and military press.  It was a lesson in “know thyself” and also a nice little reminder when working with others: trust me, I know what I want.

My session with the trainer (GT) did not prove to be fruitful, because they did not trust that I knew what I was asking for.  I asked for a session to learn how to do a deadlift, squat, bench press and military press.  Pretty straightforward and simple request for a trainer, one which I would have thought the trainer would have been super jazzed about.  It was supposed to be a relaxed session focused on learning the technique.  I did not get what I requested… instead, I got a circuit training session.  GT had me jumping from learning how to do 3 different kinds of squats mixed between jumping jacks, lunges, and ab work lunges with weights was way too much for still-new-to-exercising-regularly-me. The session took a nose-dive about halfway through, picture this: more lunges with weights, and then GT decides that it is a great time to do a CrossFit style rowing machine circuit: row as hard as possible for 2 minutes, to “get my heartrate up”. No, no, no, no, no, no. I made it 1m15sec, stopped, said I was done, and that if we continued I *would * get injured and that this was not what I had asked for with my session at all, then I proceeded to cry.

Yes, I cried at the gym.

What made the whole thing even more terrible, and embarrassing, was that this trainer didn’t take me seriously. GT started to belittle my experience and told me what I was feeling, that I didn’t know what was happening with my body, that I was freaking out over nothing and I needed to keep going and ignore my body’s screaming signals to stop.

GT’s response was that they didn’t think that what I requested (learning the different presses and lifts) was what I wanted because I looked so young (“how old are you anyway? Oh, really? You look so young, like a baby”) and because “most women want circuit training, not weight lifting and I didn’t think that what you asked for was what you meant you wanted”.

Two questions:
1. What does age have to do with it? I hired this person to teach me four very specific things, how hard is it to deliver the goods?
2. If you have someone making said specific learning requests, don’t you believe them? Why would second-guessing, or completely dismissing, someone’s request and response lead to anything but a bad experience for that person?

As an herbalist, any time I work with someone (new or old), I believe clients when they tell me what they want to accomplish, what their goals and concerns are – all the things that brought that person to me to begin with. I don’t presume to know better than them or to tell my clients what their experience is and is not. Perhaps in time, as the relationship grows and goals change, the request and direction changes. The direction isn’t up to me to decide, dismiss, second guess, or judge with someone asking for help and/or guidance.  Let’s face it, asking for help puts one in a vulnerable space. We need to honor and respect that space: the fact that we’re invited into that space at all is something to cherish and nurture.

I say to you: trust me, I know what I want.  If I ask you for something, don’t tell (or hand me) something different and tell me that I don’t know what I want, that you know better than me, or that I look too young to not know what I want.  It is not for someone else to tell me what I am experiencing.

Chances are, if I’m asking you for it, I’ve thought long and hard about it, I’ve grappled with my demons, misgivings and research, and I damn well know myself well enough to know what I want and what my body is capable of handling.  Trust me: you don’t know my story or my journey – don’t presume to tell me otherwise.

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