The Littlest Personal Trainer

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Gym membership. Pah.

The western world is divided into two camps: those who fork out a Vizier’s ransom for gym membership and visit, faithfully, year upon year, toning their muscles and making the world turn round and envy;  and those who fork out a fortune for a gym membership and then forget, or forego.

Three. Three camps. There are those, like me, who could not afford a gym membership,who hate exercising next to the narcissistic,  and anyhow, cannot see the point when there’s a hulking great forest out there to exercise in free of charge and without observation.

I walk the forest daily. I exercise aerobically up the hills and wheeze happily down the wooded ramparts. I stride purposefully after the dog when he chases deer. I climb over trees. Observe squirrels. It’s tough.

But, alas, I must own, wellington boot camp is not enough.

For I have a burgeoning waistline. It challenges, it grates, and I have had my fill of feeling frumpy. I wish for a wasp-waist, the old familiar hour-glass feeling from days of yore.

Willpower, for a forty something like me , is not in plentiful supply. I have been round the block. I have tried a thousand diet regimes, and they were all the answer for sweet fleeting moments. I am jaded. Cambridge, Slimming World, Weightwatchers: their jingoistic measure-persuade-cajole act seems tired and worn somehow.

Please. Take your scales somewhere else. What I need is something to stop me seeking instant comfort in these frenzied days of 21st century life. Like, oooh, let’s see:  a publisher. A writing job. Someone to read this dragons’ hoard of useless information I have holed up in this cybercave of mine.

And you can’t get me that, can you, Fat Club?

No: it has become the age of drastic measures.

Enter, the little personal trainer.

He is ten years old, going on 11. He has just discovered that smart clothes and a neat hairdo can turn heads. Yet he still loves to run and run and run.

My son the 600 metre runner beat everyone in school last year and excelled himself in tryouts for his new school this year. And with stealth and smeagol-like craft, I have gone about employing him.

“We could go out running with the dog,” I suggest over breakfast one day. “You could train, I could keep fit. Maybe,” I venture nonchalantly, “we could aim towards a 5k race.”

His eyes light up, and I go in for the killer blow. “We could buy you a special pair of running shoes.”


We don’t shake on it, but the littlest personal trainer gets in from school today and we hitch the dog to a lead and head out with satellite tracking on the phone.

We run a mile today, fixing our attention on the dog’s behind. It is not onerous; the land is flat and sandy and forgiving, the forests like those of the Gruffalo. We come to a halt and walk happily home.

“I feel better when I run, ” my trainer says.

I nod.

“I sleep better, too, ” he adds, ruminatively.

I grin. Beats gym membership hands down.


73 thoughts on “The Littlest Personal Trainer

    1. Jim, our warm up is walking up the steep ramparts of the hill fort to get to the top; warming down is coming back down again. Throw in a few stretches and we’re sorted!

  1. Will Felix and Mac hire out? 🙂 I fear I would be good for much less than a mile, so I’m focusing on the ups and downs of the step ladder as I attempt to unify the multiple ancient colors and surfaces in our huge kitchen (shhhhh, at the moment I’m resting). 🙂

  2. Oh what a perfect little personal trainer.. one who sleeps better! Joy. You are right though, it is easier with a buddy. Speaking of walking I had best myself out for a walk.. wish I had your woods.. c

      1. Daisy is doing better every milking, Thank you, it is a tough regime but better than drugs.. and only a few more days and she should be out of danger.. c

  3. I, too, wish I had your woods. I’m convinced their lure would be irresistible and I would be out on a daily basis, following every path, real or imagined. Aren’t you the lucky one, with woods, a dog, and a personal trainer!

    1. I suppose so, PT: I never really considered that before. I just patted myself on the back for using local resources to their optimum 😀 But when the local resources are the forest it is its own reward.

  4. I discovered the same thing with my granddog, a chihuahua-Italian grey hound mix named Bubba. Watching him run ahead of me gives such joy that the pain of the run is nonexistant. He seems to know exactly the gait that I can keep up with. Oh, but I also go to the gym…but only for the swimming aerobics. He can’t join me there….so he naps and waits for my return, replenishing his stamina to keep up with me! And I am in my 60’s!!

    1. Hello Judith! Thanks so much for reading and commenting today! You have a foot in both camps, I see. Your grand dog sounds the perfect running partner! I am tempted by swimming aerobics, I must say. I love the water.

    1. It’s from an old manuscript in the British library, Carl. There’s a whole bank of nuns in choir stalls and the expression on this one’s face caught my attention. I feel kind of proprietorial about her now 🙂

  5. I am SO with you on this one. I hate exercise for the sake of it. One needs to achieve something, like riding or running where there is stuff to see.
    Now I am doomed to BE the personal trainer for R on her 800 metre badge swim. So far we have reached 500. It takes a great deal of splashing to do even that. Oh for an interesting island 400 metres away for a there-and-back, instead of the wretched 50 metre pool.

    1. Felix is notorious for moaning about walks. He has done so since he could talk. We just say to him, we’re going for a walk – and wait for the moaning to stop, which it always does, about five minutes in. He’d be great company on the Trace 😀

  6. I would take the forest, in leaps and bounds and musings, calling it my exercise for the day. Every time I join an exercise scam, er spa, I end up catching every manner of cold and flu, sneezling and wheezling and needing a doctor. Nope. That’s my reason. Yep. I’d take your forest, and Max and Felix of course, any old day.

  7. Spring is almost here and I am so excited to ditch the gym and go back to walking out doors. It sounds like you have an excellent walking path and a good exercise partner or two. Great fun.

    1. Hi LL! Ah, its a fairy forest which stretches for acres. For so long it was the prerogative of kings for hunting. These days, it is democratised. We can all pound the traces. Wonderful stuff.

  8. Mother, son and pooch bonding while working out sounds great, Kate. Plus the added bonus of Mom (Mum?) getting her waistline back in time for bikini season, right? Very glad that I live across the pond so you can’t smack me.

    1. Bikini? I have not visited that land for a long year, Virginia, and doubt I shall touch its shores again.
      However, to fit into stuff would be a really good start…

  9. Oh, you are brilliant sometimes. (I would say all the time, but I don’t want to go too far in case I’m getting an edited version through your blog.) I think I can see my 5yo’s next money-making venture on the horizon. We’ve just started the money phase and so far a lot of his ideas end up creating work, although I’m sure he’ll get less splashy and prone to breaking dishes with practice…

  10. Not only the littlest but also the “nicest sand wisests” what a delightful post, as always Kate! And with a timely reminder to focus on true values, who would prefer sweating in a dusty crowded gym, with strangers, to sharing a run with a dear trainer like yours? As you could guess, I hate gyms too, and would never dream of paying to get into one.

  11. Now for the other half of the equation…. exercise balanced with nutrition….
    Who’s going to help with that?!

    Joking aside, forget any faddy diets. Don’t deny yourself any treats…. just little things in moderation, and you’ll be fine.
    Small changes make for bigger changes.

  12. Now, you’ve done it – you’ve provided me with the perfect excuse for not working out. Felix and Macaulay are not available stateside. Lucky you, Kate. Companionship, great scenery and exercise. Best wishes.

  13. Dear Kate, sounds perfect! Now if only one of the cats was willing to forego the long naps and train with me. But alas, all three cats have other plans. And so I try to keep myself walking by listening to a book on tape. I stop at an exciting, tense part and give myself permission to listen again only when I’m out there walking! Peace.

  14. Sounds like a wonderful idea to me! And if I had the forest, I just know I’d be model thin. LOL! That’s not me trying to compete over a svelte waistline, it’s me being jealous! 🙂

  15. My Felix took me marching all about the neighborhood, to the playground to play and back, and was delighted when I challenged him to a running lap around the school building. I nearly expired, but it was worth it for that few minutes. Happy training, Kate. You know I’m with you in spirit 🙂

  16. Bribed him with running shoes, huh? You obviously know your trainer. Looking forward to stories of the 5k.

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