In early 2020, a union sister turned me on to Katy Bowman's Nutritious Movement. Using Katy's methods and stretches, I was able to reduce and then eliminate the lower back pain that had plagued me for decades. I increased my range of motion and felt much looser and more fluid. Hurrah! I wrote about that experience here.
I kept up with the stretching, but as motivated as I am, if I do it on my own, I end up rushing through, doing the bare minimum. Katy's philosophy and exercises are amazing, but they can be very time-consuming. Also, her workouts are not aerobic. I already dedicate about five hours a week to cardio exercise. Adding Nutritious Movement becomes a prohibitive time commitment.
Early last year, the wonderful folks at truLocal were promoting Nielsen Fitness, a personal training company based in Toronto. Like so many businesses, Nielsen converted to a virtual model during covid -- one-on-one sessions via videoconferencing, with a free assessment and trial session to start. I decided to try it.
Nielsen had a good and detailed intake questionnaire, where I was able to specify my goals: I want to improve strength, balance, and flexibility. The end. Just as importantly, I was able to specify my not-goals: no weighing, no measuring.
I signed up for 12 lessons. The consultant tried to sell me on three times per week, but there's just no way. I wanted one weekly session, and kind of got pushed into twice weekly. As it turned out, because of scheduling, I often ended up having one session per week -- and I enjoyed that the most.
Incidentally, I think "three times a week or you don't see results" must be another fitness myth. It should be chucked in the bin, along with 10,000 steps, eight glasses of water, and "no pain, no gain". With either weekly or twice-weekly sessions, I absolutely saw progress. My strength, flexibility, and balance all improved. And this included a six-week break.
I had a great experience, one that confirmed everything I have heard about working with a personal trainer.
* She knew a wide range of modifications, so I could progress through different exercises at my own level.
* She designed workouts that were more challenging than I would do on my own, both in skill level and duration.
* She challenged me to go further than I thought I could, while always respecting my limitations.
* She was highly encouraging and motivating. This isn't a must for me, but I enjoyed it and found it helpful.
* The workout was dynamic and aerobic, so I felt that I had gotten a very complete hour, even more than I do on the treadmill.
* It was slightly awkward to do this by video. I had to tilt the laptop camera up or down for each exercise. But it wasn't a big deal, and certainly worth it to have a great, personalized workout without leaving the house.
* Nielsen sent me a set of resistance bands, both "mini bands" and "super bands", along with a set of handles and a nice bag, pictured here. These are really useful and they threw them in at no extra cost.
The result: I worked hard, saw progress, went further than I thought I could, and had no injuries.
I enjoyed the experience very much -- but it is out of my price range. The 12 sessions were a gift I gave myself, an investment in my health. But this is not something I can work into my budget long-term. I don't think the industry's prices are exorbitant, considering it's a personal service, using someone's time and expertise. It's just not in our budget.
So where to go from here? I think my best bet for expertise with affordability is a fitness app. I don't mind paying for a good app; the price for a full year may be less than one personal session. But there are so many fitness apps, I find the field overwhelming. Most seem to emphasize weight loss, or on the other end, body building. I take one look at the choices and run screaming.
This listicle from Forbes reviews several apps, rating pros and cons for each. I'm going to use it as a base for discovery. The trainer recommended one that is on this list: Nike Training Club. I'll report back.