Not your average suburban mom. I’m more your typical, normal, commonplace, everyday, garden-variety suburban mom. With a thesaurus.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Oh Dwayne, stop. I saw you in Tooth Fairy.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! WELCOME TO THE 2014 PERSONAL TRAINER SMACKDOWN EVENT OF A AT LIFETIME. IN ONE CORNER WE HAVE MIKE (*echoes* Mike...Mike...Mike). IN THE OTHER IS KEMPER (Kemper...Kemper...Kemper). WHO WILL BE CROWNED CHAMPION TRAINER OF THE ENTIRE WORLD? (Stakes may be written higher than they actually are for dramatic purposes.)

My month of free personal training is officially over. (Because remember how I won that raffle and Lifetime Fitness gave me a month of free personal training?!) I was assigned a trainer (for the purposes of this blog we will call him Mike because that's his name). I figured out pretty quickly that the way Lifetime assigned this particular trainer to me was that they asked all the trainers who was willing to take free clients, and the brand spanking new trainers who have not built up clientele were the ones to volunteer. This was in hope that the free clients would turn into loyal paying clients. I was basically the biggest bust of a free client ever because there was no way I was ever going to become a paying client unless I was assigned to Elliott Hulse or his equivalent.

(However, I was really interested to work with another trainer because I've been wondering if I'm really objective enough about Kemper. I mean, we all know I love him to pieces and think he hung the moon, but am I just the average Fat Mom who fell in love with "quick" results or is Kemper really as good as I think he is?)


My first session with Mike started on the treadmill. This is all I learned about Mike during my ten minutes on the treadmill:

- his full name
- his place of residence
- his employment history (former insurance salesman turned PT)
- his age and upcoming birthday (49 going on 50 this summer)
- his kids and their interests (3 kids including twin boys)
- his divorce and dating history (slightly bitter, getting back with his girl across state)
- his ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, and sister are all named Kelly (because it's an awesome name that means "warrior woman")
- he hates Obamacare (because it destroyed his career in private health insurance)

This is what I learned about Kemper in the first six weeks he worked with me at Lifetime:

- his first name
- his thoughts about my diet
- his thoughts about my exercise
- he is 22 precious years old (to be fair, I totally asked him for that info)

I'm not saying Trainer Mike is verbose, because he's not especially. I don't mind talking about life and other personal stuff (because honestly it's my bread and butter and I really kind of love getting to know people). There was just a marked difference between the two trainers in their focus of our training sessions. Mike wanted to sell Mike as my new personal trainer. Kemper wanted me to reach my weight loss and strength goals.

Round one decidedly goes to KEMPER.


*Ski Machine
The first five sessions with Mike: Because I was trucking along nicely with my strength training workout schedule, I was pretty firm in telling Mike I was interested in sticking with abs, back, and learning to use new equipment during our sessions. We got off to a rocky start because Mike wants to train how Mike wants to train (which I understand), but he has been pretty cool about accommodating me, and I had a lot of fun during our sessions. I've been introduced to the ab roller, the Ski Machine (hated it*), the Rowing Machine (LOVED it), the t-bar, the TRX bands, the ropes, and a few new machines. He is completely opposite Kemper in his ideas about training (Kemper is low rep, high weight and Mike is solidly in the 15 rep zone for everything) so it was a bit weird adjusting to the question, "How is the weight, Kelly?" Because I'm thinking, "I could totally do a full set of this!" as I struggle on rep 7. Mike usually responds, "That's too heavy" and stops me and adjusts my weight so I can do 15.

The last three sessions with Mike: This is when Mike and I clicked. I think he was finally just all, "Eff it. She's totally not ever going to hire me. We'll just go ahead and Imma MC this party anyway." The last three sessions he started strength training with free weights (mostly chest and back) and letting me lift heavy. He actually even challenged me to go heavier than I thought I could a few times. It was awesome. But our sessions still had the feel of working out with a training partner, and not so much a personal trainer. I felt like I had a buddy, not a mentor.

Ohmygosh, Gene Wilder, I'll get there.
Give me time, man.
My sessions with Kemper are crazy informative. I'm there to learn, and he is there to teach me. It's not all business, because I do have fun and enjoy Kemper as a person, but I know I am not wasting my time with him. He is focused on pushing me and not on getting in his own workout or texting other clients while I'm doing 15 reps of something (*cough*Mike*cough*). With Kemper I have learned how to deadlift, squat, and how to do assisted pull-ups and dips. He started me on a simple strength training schedule and helped change it up in order for me to progress when I was ready. When I'm training with Kemper, there is no doubt that he is leading our session, and I feel comfortable following, because I trust him.

I just felt overall that when I was being trained by Mike, he could honestly be training anyone in the entire world in that moment, but when I am with Kemper he is specifically training ME.

For all the above reasons round two belongs to KEMPER.


Round three is going to cover the technical aspects of personal training, of which I know nothing about. These are things like proper form, the science behind how the body works and the best techniques in which to take advantage of those workings.

Funny, but this is totally what I wear to squat.
#onesies #twinsies
I think my biggest beef with Mike was that he was iffy on form. I'm totally a proper form nerd. I google the mess out of how to do different lifts and exercises. This is for sure so that I don't look ridiculous at the gym, but more importantly, so I stay safe. Whenever I would ask Mike a question about form, he would inevitably answer, "Do what feels good." Or he would think about it, try the move himself, and then tell me what he was doing. I'm not gonna lie. It made me nervous.

*you can't out train a bad diet*
*the best ab exercise is walking away
from the kitchen*
*insert your own fitness cliches here*
Another red flag is that Mike never ever talked with me about nutrition after his initial assessment, not even to check in with me at our weigh ins. Like, for a whole month. Again, we had differing opinions on food, but I found that Mike's take on nutrition was seriously laissez faire. He would go an entire day not eating; not because he is a purposeful intermittent faster, but because he was busy or didn't get around to it. To me, if you have made your career about fitness but don't give any mind to food, well, it's like being a painter that has no paint but doesn't go get any because they were too busy trying to paint without it. Food is fuel, and nutrition is a HUGE part of health.

On the food tip, Kemper is so about proper fuel that he owns a backpack that stores and cools six meals at a time. He food preps. He practices what he preaches. And he minored in nutrition in college so the man literally has a degree in it. When Mike tells me, "You should eat XXXXX for breakfast," and Kemper tells me, "You should eat YYYYY for breakfast," I'm totally eating all the YYYYY.

With form, Kemper not only shows me how to do something, but he also stops and corrects me if I'm not doing it right.  (Because this is just another huge post about me jocking Kemper - HAHA shout out to the '90's, y'all!- I want to include that I took advantage of Free Trainer Day at Lifetime a few weeks ago. I hunted down a trainer named Dan to teach me how to bench press and how to do bent over barbell rows. Dan was just like Kemper. He knew the lifts, knew how to teach them, and watched as I did them. He took me seriously. Dan is also going to be a winner in this round by osmosis.)(Or something.) Kemper introduced me to wraps to protect my wrists and he watches my body in order not only to keep me safe but also to do the corrective stretches and exercises needed for my messed-upedness (the technical term, I'm sure).

There were many times over the past month that I would have a question, ask Mike because I spent two hours a week with him, only to have to write the question down in order to ask Kemper later because Mike simply didn't know the answer. It's not that Mike is a bad trainer, but I think that to some, fitness is a hobby that can be made into a job, but for others it is a passion that turns into a vocation. I want to be trained by the latter.

One area that Mike really excels in is sincere praise. I probably noticed this because my love language is words of affirmation, but Mike made a lot of offhand remarks that totally built me up. He would comment about how strong I am, or how nice it is to train someone who "knows what they are doing", or laugh when he would describe me to another trainer as "she never gives up, man". (Which, when someone brags on us words of affirmation people to someone else - that mess is like heroin, dude.) Mike has called me "tenacious" and I have noticed lately that I am clinging to that observation whenever I want to quit. "Nope, Self, no quitting today. I go hard because I am tenacious."

Still, at the end of the day there can only be one victor ... conclusion, KEMPER IS THE CHAMPION TRAINER OF THE ENTIRE WORLD. 
Not Kemper. But I'm totally awarding him the Triple Crown Championship anyway.
Now he just needs a wrestling name.


  1. I'm seriously stopping dead stop in my reading to tell you how much I love you for loving the rowing machine. OMG GIRL, it seriously is my new favorite thing!! Ok so have you ever heard of a leaderboard? Stupid thing they do in crossfit. It keeps the top five people of a certain workout up on the board. I'm working on being number one in a 10,000M row. You should do it with meeeee. We'd have fun! Ok off to read the rest of your post but I know Kemper will win (I mean duh).

    1. I'm all in! How does it work? Is it for time? Fastest to 10,000?

  2. Oh my......"Do what feels right?" That sent bad shiver's down my body. He's going to get someone hurt. I knew Kemper would win but I think he does so well with you because..Ok... one- because everything you said here, obviously he is an amazing trainer. But because you are so willing to do what he says. You are truly rocking this and I have to say seeing you go from endurance to this and how excited you are is really super cool. So the winner? Is really, you.:) I think I'm going to do a feature post with my fave blogs, you would totally be on it. It might be a while but i'll let you know when I do it! Woot. Unless of course that would bother you? I know I get a little out of control sometime's and I can be ummmm a little rowdy.

    1. I would be honored to be featured! I think that's rad!

      I was thinking a bit about how it took a few weeks for me to get on board with Kemper. But seriously, once he proved himself to me I really was willing to do whatever. The proof is in the pudding and all that. He really is so good at what he does. I feel so lucky to have him in my life.

  3. I really enjoyed this post, not just because you're funny, but because it was very informative and a very good comparison. Thank you for sharing! And for being funny. ;)

    1. Thanks, Steph. I was *trying* to stay objective ;-)


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