There was no reneging on my decision that after Christmas break I was going to sign up a personal trainer at Helios when I got back to the gym. The free training session he gave me shortly before I left for Manila left me determined to conquer myself. I can do the basic stuff – something I learned from an ex-boyfriend-best friend who tutored me years ago – but I had reached a dead end and was starting to execrate even the basic workout routine I was doing. Then Pak Agus happened. Perhaps he read my expression and body language, but whatever it was, I knew it was time to sign him up as my personal trainer.

Agus and I had exchanged pleasantries and high-fives occasionally, and he had helped me with some of the machines. I guess the clincher in deciding I’d get him as my personal trainer was, one, he was the only one who spoke to me at length at the gym in English. Second, he was really amiable; he’s like this huge care bear with a super power of weight lifting. But one should not be fooled by his smile once he has his trainer hat on – he makes you complete all the exercises, corrects your inaccurate technique, form and breathing, and pushes you out of your comfort zone. He lives up to the title of personal trainer emblazoned on his t-shirt.

“If you sign up, you have four variants to finish in a session. Come, let me show you the first one,” he said to me and led me to the machine for the latissimus dorsi.

It was an all-body workout routine he gave me which left me gasping for air but feeling definitely much exhilarated, and excited about the thought of signing him up as my personal trainer. I was admittedly in pain the next day and it was complete torture rolling out of bed. I finally got reacquainted my muscles I had long forgotten about. My flatmate, she confessed, was laughing because she heard me crying, “Ouch, ouch, ouch” every time I’d walk around the flat. Good thing she didn’t hear my silent scream the one time I run up a flight of steps from the ground floor to my office on the second – my leg muscles were suddenly tight. Even lifting a textbook was such an arduous task after a workout session with Pak Agus!

Gym collage


But despite the body pain and gripes I never regretted my decision to sign up Pak Agus as my trainer. In fact, it’s one of the best decisions I have made this year. However, honestly, I was not far from quitting the first cycle which tested my resolve. Pak Agus’ training sessions are divided into cycles consisting of 12 sessions each, with a client ideally doing four sessions with him each week without fail. I was dragging my sore body home and dropping on the bed after a quick shower to wake up the next morning feeling raw and debating whether to go to the gym or not. It was reminiscent of my days as a varsity soccer player at the University of the Philippines in Diliman where training was gruelling especially for a flat-footed, asthmatic person like me. But I didn’t quit much to the surprise of my teammates who, I discovered much later, had a wager going on of how long before I renounced my membership. They were shocked when I came back the next day smiling and whistling. It’s similar to my sessions with Pak Agus who noted that I looked better and stronger after the first cycle where I looked so downtrodden and ready to quit.

I am now on my sixth cycle with Pak Agus and exercises like the push-up (the type where you’re in push up position and moving to the right and left before doing the push up) and plank rotation are fast becoming a favourite together with the triceps dip. A friend once commented that I can stop with my personal trainer after a few months, but I beg to disagree. Here’s why getting and staying with a personal trainer is never a bad idea:

  1. A personal trainer pushes one to work out.

There are 101 reasons not to work out and your personal trainer makes sure you don’t use any one of them on him. Aside: I don’t even have Pak Agus’ hand phone number because I know I’d be tempted to text him I can’t make it.

  1. A personal trainer is your personal cheering squad.

When you feel your knees are about to buckle after more than two minutes of jumping jacks, your personal trainer will cheer you on until the last second. Then he’ll give you a bit of rest and time to drink water.

  1. A personal trainer keeps you focused on your work out.

Like a good teacher, he discusses the focus of the cycle, the goal for each cycle, and having a proper diet.

  1. A personal trainer is a paradigm of healthy living.

Exercising cannot be divorced from the concept of healthy living. They go like hand and glove, and your personal trainer is a great reminder of that philosophy.

Naysayers will point out that it’s expensive to pay a personal trainer. I concede that it’s a good point, but here’s my argument: with proper money management paying for a personal trainer is a much better investment than, say, purchasing a branded bag of whatever froufrou you fancy at the moment. It’s a life-time investment that will keep the doctor away and you in tip-top shape.


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