She writhed on the gym mat, playing coy and light:

“Am I doing it right? It’s like this, Right?”  Up on her hands and toes, she slowly crawls, hands splayed, backside in the air, then a quick crash and roll.  It was her interpretation of the bear crawl, and she’s milking the blond.

His hands were folded into his chest with authority, feet placed apart, like men do when they want to create presence. He wore a reserved smile as he circled her, gently and intentionally kicking his foot out with each step. She was a curiosity, the squirming mouse of the batting tomcat. It was a situation which required a bit more grooming.  

I remember when I first joined the training sessions, he was a new employee, and I overheard him ask a coworker: “You mean, whatever I tell them to do, they have to do it??” After receiving a nod, he begins yelling as I imagine he did while serving in Afghanistan. That question reminded me of how young he was. We had all guessed; His eyes had something dark behind them. I knew he didn’t like the job, but life had placed him there for the meantime until something more meaningful came along. Maybe it was something he had seen. Maybe it was a combination of things.

uh-oh. She’s waaay too transparent.

She’s trying too hard.  She’s needy. She’s like a pound puppy with new tricks.

I watched as she headed for the exit. he called her back and slipped her a piece of paper. She smiles, turns to the door and passed me. She held tight the paper to her chest, smiling, eyes wide and determined.

Day 2.

More mingling and giggling. It was a bit annoying to us who were waiting for his instruction. The training session lasted an hour, and we were already 5 minutes in…
The three of us stood silently, waiting for him to join us and review our food logs as usual. He said:

“You, you, and you…” go into the fitness room and do 15 minutes on the cross-trainer, something, anything. Go warm up…”

DAY 10.

I walk in with my Cubbie ball cap, and as I pass through the weight room to the dressing room, he whoops at me, as if my hat signified some type of readiness for hard work. “whoo hoo,” got the cap on and ready to go…” I smiled. We aren’t really on the friendliest terms; not that I didn’t want a good rapport with my fitness instructor; The first session I had with him, he told me I avoided pain and hard work because of my past hurts and experience. I really didn’t know what to say to that. I thought it was because I was fat and out of breath.
Not long after, he and a teammate were in front of me, and he said to her clearly and loudly: “You know, you are my favorite…” I couldn’t blame him for saying so. She is what we call quality people. Meanwhile, any attempts to discuss past injuries or simple comments were met with silence, yelling or indifference…an occasional snarky remark. I had two ways to view the situation: On one hand, we were being pushed beyond our limits. On the other hand, I didn’t enlist in the Marines. I decided I had made an 12 week commitment, and I would follow it through. I made no more attempts at pleasantries. Sometimes, two people just don’t get along.

One day when I tried to adapt an exercise, he confronted me: “You just do whatever you want to do, don’t you?”
“Yea, pretty much…” I answered.
he roared “Run three laps around my building!!!”

So now, there she is on the weight machine, and he appears to mindlessly spot her when he called out my hat with enthusiasm. Its already started, I thought. Its her hour of personal training, yet he’s doing anything to distract himself.

Day 14.

No more mixing and giggles. They are on opposite ends of the room- like strangers.

DAY 16

She was doing a wall sit, when he walks into the workout room and in an impersonal yet professional voice, asked “Hey how you doing?”
as he continued moving forward.
I didn’t hear her answer, but I saw her lips move but He didn’t wait for for her answer- It was just a drive-by. All I remember is the flinch, as she pressed her cheek against the wall, trying to make herself disappear. I can think of a million reasons why.

Later, I saw her in the changing room, and for the first time close enough to see her face. See had a beautiful doll face. A porcelain complexion, lovely blue eyes, full lips and beautiful smile. Hadn’t noticed it; before, she was always dressed out in loosely fitting tank tops, and once without a bra.
“That’s a really pretty dress…” I said.

“Thank you…”

I saw her a sporadically until she disappeared.

After the 12 weeks of training was complete, I participated in a group training session when he again my trainer. He jokingly said as we reflected back: “YOU shut me out…” he said.
“No, YOU shut ME out…” I said.
As we progressed, I began talking about my arthritic knee, and he said: “You never told me anything about that!”
“Yes, I did, it just went through that little shredder you got inside your ear!”
“yea, That shredder inside your ear, you know, I say something, and its just like “Ffffffftt….” (I make a wave signal with my hand) it just goes right through that shredder of yours..

He laughed. “Yea I do have a habit of that…”



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