Why I have a Personal Trainer: Exercise is important creative friends!

Not meaning to generalize, but creatives for the most part are not exactly known for their fitness.  Not all, obviously, but most would prefer to spend their downtime being creative, playing video/board games and binge watching.  I get it.  I love drawing on the couch while watching a show, but since 2008, I have been trying to be fitter with some varying degrees of success.  

I've tried going to the gym on my own, indoor rock climbing (both bouldering and with the rope), hiking/walking on weekends, kick boxing and training at the gym with a personal trainer.  The reality is that I don't have the same drive to exercise as I do work.  Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy physical activities when am out and about doing it but sometimes, just even wanting to go to the gym is difficult.  If I wasn't meeting a friend at the gym, it's so easy to make excuses, it's not like I wasn't busy with work or projects most of the time.

Bouldering 2008 Lactic Factory, photo by Gavin Lau

Working out with friends can be unreliable.  People get busy, schedules change or other personal issues come up and since I prefer company while I exercise, if the friend bails on me, more often than not, I don't go.

I have found that personal training has worked best for me and my schedule. I think I might have mentioned this in passing in previous blog posts.  Yes, it can be a bit costly, especially when you're exercising more than once a week, but I personally think it is worth the money.  It does help that my trainer, Justin, is an ex-animator.  I've been able to exercise even with an injured wrist without aggravating it. Any time something is sore, like my lower back, he has helped massage it out. He has also shown me exercises that I could do on my own to get a good stretch.  

More importantly, exercise just helps clear out the mind, is a great stress relief from work pressures and keeps me from being too sedentary.  I am on the computer animating/drawing, so I generally I don't move a lot unless it's to stretch.

Personally, I need accountability to exercise and I won't get that by working out on my own or in a class.  A trainer in a class has to be aware of a lot of people and the workout won't be tailored to your specific needs. I enjoy classes for a bit but then I tend to just get bored.

From struggling to do a push up on a bar to doing ring push ups.  That's another thing, no way would I push myself that hard or even think of trying ring push ups without a trainer.

I am in my 40s and I can still fit into clothes from over 15 years ago. So exercise helps with the whole clothing sustainability and slows down the aging process, it's not a bad ego boost either.  Keep in mind that genes do play a part but you can help it along by trying to be as healthy as you can be.

2009 on the left and 2020 on the right. 

In all fairness, I have not been consistent.  I was training at the gym with Justin between 2012-very early 2016.  Then I moved from the city to the country with my partner and didn't train for 3 years. I came back to the gym about 10 kg heavier at the end of 2019.  I thought I would be able to train and exercise on my own, seeing that I was familiar with them already but I lacked the motivation and it was way too easy for me to let exercise slip by the wayside.  Frankly, I think exercise is way too easy to put to the side by most people.  My self-esteem wasn't great, not fitting into my clothes sucked, I wasn't happy with how I looked in the mirror and that was just the vanity aspect of things.  I didn't have a lot of energy, my mental state wasn't great, struggled to centre myself after a stressful week at work and I physically felt gross and I made things worse by getting into alcohol as a stress relief for a couple of years.

I was very lucky to have gone back to training when I did since it was right before the pandemic.  I actually lost weight and my mental space felt stable...most days.  I mean we were isolated in a pandemic for two years without being able to see family and friends regularly, it was hard for everyone. 

Anyway, moral of the story is, after many years I've found what I needed to do to stay fit.  Exercise does help to clear your head, helps you be more creative and it get's you moving.  As an animator/illustrator/writer/office worker.....you'll be spending most of your time sitting and am sure it shocks no one to know that, that isn't good for you.  Not good for you physically and not good for your mental state too.  So if it's just walking around the park, working out at home with a video game that helps you exercise, fitness apps, gym classes, dancing, rock climbing, swimming, etc. Find something that makes you move.  Your body will thank you for it and probably your brain too.  Remember, you only have one body, so find the balance between having fun and staying healthy.


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