Today marks the first day of my return to personal training (PT) and the beginning of my 90-day transformation with Jahkeen Washington (Jah) of JTW Fit and Harlem HIIT. As you know, this isn't my first time around the personal trainer block which explains why I'm more excited than scared like I was the first time I tried PT in 2014. But after sharing some of the missteps I made with personal training the last time, I thought I should lay out a few reasons I'm doing it again.
Plain and simple. I lost the most weight while working with my former trainer, Jonathan Olivencia. Good trainers hold you accountable, push you further than you'd likely push yourself, help you strengthen your weaknesses, and can give you some amount of nutritional guidance (depending on their certifications) so your efforts in the gym aren't in vain. All of those elements are essential for weight loss which is why personal training, when you and your trainer are serious about it, works.
I needed and wanted a push
I've lost weight on my own this year but not at the rate I was hoping, which is due in part to my lack of consistency when it comes to my diet but also a lack of physical activity that pushes my limits. I love a dance fitness class as much as the next girl and while those classes can and will help you shed weight, they don't build the kind of muscle that changes the composition of your body; nor do they enhance your strength, mobility, or overall physical fitness. I want to lose weight but I also want to be toned and physically fit and that requires exercise outside of cardio.
I don't have the same expertise
I know an exercise or two to work pretty much every muscle group in my body, but that's it. Give me a gym membership and I'm probably going to do the same rotation of upper and lower body exercises every other day because that's all I know and that's all I'm comfortable doing without guidance. A trainer, however, knows how to completely fatigue a muscle group and accelerate weight loss by increasing your muscle mass and in turn your metabolism. They'll also make sure you use proper form so you're actually working the muscle group you think you are and ensure you don't injure yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, most trainers can also give some direction when it comes to clean eating. While they may not have the same knowledge as a nutritionist, at the very least, they can look at your typical daily diet and advise what you should and shouldn't be consuming, suggest a good calorie deficit based on the work you're putting in to help you shed pounds, and recommend vitamins, proteins, and other supplements to help you achieve your goals and properly fuel your system.
I missed having a support system
Weight loss can be a very lonely journey. Your friends and family aren't going to understand the level of discipline required to meet your goals and why you can't come to every cocktail hour and birthday dinner. And if you're always on one diet or another, they likely aren't even taking you seriously right now. (Don't be mad, you'd do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.)
No one understands what it takes to lose weight like your trainer and I promise you no one will celebrate the loss of an inch or pound or the fact that you upped your lifting weight another 20 pounds from two weeks ago like your trainer. Personal trainers are champions of little victories and when you'e too hard on yourself they'll remind you of just how far you've come and just how far you're capable of going.
There's no shortage of trainers out there to choose from, which is why I think it's also important to explain why I chose Jah to train with in particular -- outside of the fact that I already take classes with him at Harlem HIIT.
Whenever I take a fitness class I am heavily affected by the energy of the teacher and the other attendees. I've been in so many classes where the teacher was not here for people who weren't on his or her fitness level, leaving me feeling less than welcome and with no desire to return. In my very first class with Jah I noticed how he created an entirely separate routine for one woman who wasn't able to do a number of the exercises set out for the rest of the class. That spoke to his expertise as an instructor and his patience and concern for every individual in the class regardless of their fitness level. I also felt like a "regular" at Harlem HIIT after just a few classes because of the environment Jah and his co-founder Thomas have created which was crucial in my decision to keep taking classes and eventually train.
Being heavier, I'm used to instructors expecting little out of me in fitness classes. Some of that, I can admit, is in my head. And some of that is evidenced by the way I'm ignored when I can't do a particular exercise -- rather than given a modification -- or coddled when I'm sweating and out of breath -- as if I'm on the brink of a heart attack and not just fatigued like everyone else. Jah, on the other hand, I felt saw potential in me from day one, rightfully shutting down my request for a modification for burpees in one of my earlier classes after telling me he saw me do them in the previous class; therefore "you good." And I so appreciate his inclusive use of the word "we" when I struggle to do real push=ups or can't bear to do another medicine ball slam and squat jump combo and he reminds me "we athletes" and "we don't get tired." Despite the fact that I'm tired AF and no one's athlete (I found that out in the 5th grade), I do feel like I have at least another rep or two in me when I'm pushed in that way.
His personal expertise
Yes, Jah is certified to personally train individuals and teach group fitness classes (which is something you should check before agreeing to pay anyone to train you) but more than that he's been in my shoes. If you've ever watched Fit to Fat to Fit, you know that it wasn't until the personal trainers on the show were literally in the shoes of their clients -- gaining 50 pounds or more and then losing it alongside them -- that they truly understood what the people they train go through and have more empathy for them on their journey. Though Jah now wakes up like this, he didn't always, and the fact that he embarked on his own fitness journey -- successfully so -- I think colors his approach to fitness classes and personal clients. He comes from a point of understanding that a lot of trainers don't.
I'll be giving you weekly updates on my process and progress on the site over the next 90 days so wish me luck. And don't forget I'm hosting a workout class June 3 where I hope we can all sweat it out and get #FitEnough together. Tickets at eventbrite.trapdrill.com.