LIFE IS AN ENDURANCE EVENT: TRAIN FOR IT. WITH A TRAINER IF YOU CAN.
I hate working with a trainer. Hate spending the money… hate the pressure… hate being told what to do. So I mostly don’t do it. Know what that makes me? It makes me A DOPE, that’s what.
Hate to say it, but it’s true. The message was brought home to me recently as I began training with the excellent Harvard rowing coach and author (The Red Rose Crew which is superb), Dan Boyne. I have been rowing, off and on, for 60 years, since college, so you’d assume that I have a bit of a clue. And by heaven I do. So it is even more astounding how much I have already learned from Dan.
No details (too boring) but what I will tell you is that it has made rowing – which I have always loved –
|Me training with Olympic Snowboarder Chris Klug. Rip Trainer = MUST have core strength
much more interesting and more fun. And much better exercise, as I think I mentioned in my last Fortnightly, because I am belatedly starting to use my legs and core about twice as much. (Almost all decent training for almost all sports is going to tell you to wake up and use – and improve – your core; it always makes a huge difference.) When I talk to folks about getting a trainer, the (mostly unspoken) response of many is, “Who gives a shit?” Who cares, they imply, whether I am a bit of a dub as a rower or biker or even a skier? I am in it for the exercise and the pleasure and I am never going to compete, at any level. So why bother? Why spend the time and the dough?
Perfectly good questions but there are good answers, too. I can’t explain why, but getting better at stuff makes it much more fun. That added effort – and attention to this and that – makes the whole thing more interesting, and you’re more likely to keep it up. And that is the main worry, as we get a teeny bit older. It is steadily more important to do serious exercise all the time, as we get older. And steadily more tempting to say, Screw it… and go watch daytime TV. Permit me to say – one more time – that the price of indolence and sloth gets alarmingly steep as we get older. Let yourself go to hell in your 70’s and you will be one stumbling, nasty mess, almost at once. And then it will get worse. Much worse. . And your life will be, you know, ruined. Training does a lot of stuff but one of the big ones is it keeps you going. Do whatever you can afford, but do some of it, just to try out the idea. Then adjust to suit your newly educated needs and your pocketbook. I hate to say it but it looks like more is better. It is dreadful how often the most successful followers of Younger Next Year and Thinner This Year tell me that they have a trainer once a week and that that is their great secret. No one sane can afford that, but it sure seems to work.
By the way, the one area where it really makes sense to work with a trainer once in a while is strength training. If you’ve read the wonderful last third of Thinner This Year (Bill Fabrocini’s great introduction to effective, modern, whole-body strength training) you have a real clue (and his dvd’s take you even further). But a few lessons with someone good is still a great idea as well. I know that first hand because, when I go out to one of our Aspen “Total Immersion Weeks” and work out with Bill – and other stars in that field – I am still learning like crazy. And if you have not looked at Thinner or seen Bill’s dvds, you really should give it some thought because this stuff is not intuitively obvious. And doing it wrong can – over time – make a horrendous hash of your back and some of your critical joints. When I go to a gym these days and see folks working out with weights, I want to call the cops half the time because
so many of them are doing it so wrong. AND they are going to
hurt themselves really badly, over time. Very badly indeed.
So…. my modest suggestion: if you can possibly afford a lesson or two a year (or a month), find a person who is terrific at your sport. There’s a good chance that you will get much better at skiing, biking or whatever. But most important of all, find someone good (not easy but possible) and take a few strength training lessons. There’s a good chance that you’ll learn a lot. And avoid some hideous reversals in the Third Act.
ASPEN WEEK SEPTEMBER 21-25
And now a brief, commercial (and thoroughly personal) message.
If you can begin to afford it (the “week” costs about $5K for everything, including elegant meals and a superb hotel), think about coming out to join me and Billy Fab and Jen in Aspen this September and get that strength training session (and a bunch of others) from Bill himself… and some of the best trainers in the world. Take a deep dive into everything from strength training, to aerobics, to food and wine (Jen will be there, the darling, and her talks are magical). These weeks are major fun for me, even after all this time. I am still learning like crazy…rededicating myself and all that. The company is inexplicably good, every time, and it’s fun. So, boogie on out and, you know, change your life. Couldn’t hurt.