Each person who walks through my door is treated as a beginner. I learned some time ago not to assume where someone is starting from based on their past. For no matter how many sports you played in high school or college, nor how fit you felt or looked five years ago, where you are today is sometimes a long way from that.

Starting at the basics is simply good practice. Sometimes that beginning is like taking the first step up a steep slope to a remote shrine. Other times, that first step is like starting on the low diving board in week one…and going up a level each week…with improved form coming with the new challenges.

Let’s just say that Gayle, a self-professed exercise hater, is the diver above. Regardless of her preference for the Great Gatsby lifestyle, she never shrinks from the challenge of an intense workout or a new movement.

What did she come looking for when we started? Killer arms, a defined body, to feel and look healthy, and to stay as young as possible. Indeed. Solid goals. And yet, when I told her that I wanted to tell her story, what stood out in her mind from our three weeks together: stress relief, and a neck that’s no longer sore.

To me, this is the ideal application of our human desire to look good. It is healthy to want to look and feel beautiful. And when we do what we need to make that happen…sleep more, drink enough water, eat fewer calories, and integrate exercise…we feel better. And that’s the part that we notice first.

Gayle has now transitioned from 1:1 personal training to a small group. She’s comfortable with what I ask her to do, and I am tuned into what kind of push she needs. With her quick smile and trademark laugh, she now takes on each new challenge with wry confidence.

Rebecca Boskovic