Going back to the gym after a long absence can be daunting and intimidating. I’m a big girl who despite a few pockets of time of regular activity — like the 7 months I trained for the Disney Princess 10K in 2014-2015 — has been plagued with health issues and an endocrine system that makes exercise challenging and sometimes even demoralizing (because it doesn’t lead to weight training). I haven’t done much more than walking lately, and it was beginning to really bother me.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was invited to try Sport & Health Pike and Rose in North Bethesda for a month, with a personal trainer included. I was worried. Have I mentioned that I hadn’t been a gym regular since my 20s, when I was a New Yorker and people asked what gym you belonged to like it was church in the South? Well, I hadn’t. But Sport & Health was so welcoming. And then I met my personal trainer. Would he be like Jillian Michaels, out with a virtual whip for me to go faster, stronger, longer? I wasn’t sure I could handle that sort of “tough” military-style trainer.
My trainer turned out to be the sweetest, coolest, most patient person imaginable. Meet Will Hernandez. He’s a personal trainer who grew up in the area, graduated from Richard Montgomery High School and then the University of Maryland with a degree in Kinesiology. He’s baby-faced, so at first I was like, great, my trainer is just a few years older than my son (who is 15), a total rookie. I was completely wrong! Will and I first sat down and discussed my goals for the month. I wasn’t interested in weight loss (well I am, but not for the purposes of this) but in reintegrating back to the gym, learning about the machines, body awareness, and frankly, figuring out which machines would work best for me to build a good foundation for my body. On our first day together, we never even left the warm-up area, because he just wanted to show me great mat exercise to develop my core muscles, which he explained I would use in all of my strength training in some way or other.
For the next four weeks, Will and I met twice a week to go over the basics of the weight room and what each machine does and why. He introduced me to his favorite cardio machine — not the treadmill but the recumbent bikes, where I was to do half an hour of cardio before meeting him for strength training each session. I knew where to target my heart rate to ensure I had an optimal work out and then would sweatily go upstairs from the cardio machines and yoga studio level to the personal training and weights level. I did various lunges, presses, push-ups, and more. There were times I couldn’t talk through my sets, but Will managed to stay encouraging and kind. He also made sure to quiz me on the proper way to do different exercises, so I wouldn’t have to rely on his guidance every time I approached it.
After the month of personal training sessions, I can see exactly why people sign up for personal training. I never would have thought to approach the free weights or certain machines without Will’s help. I looked forward to going to the gym and seeing what else I could accomplish in the weight room, or whatever Will threw my way. There were a couple of movements that I wasn’t sure about, but he would just show me again (and sometime again) until I got it. There’s nothing like one-on-one guidance to help you get through any work out.
During our last session together, Will even helped me learn how to stretch. I had complained to him that I always rely on my husband (a former high-school athlete) or even my oldest son (a current high-school athlete) to show me how/where to stretch, because I didn’t grow up an athlete and am not sure what stretches are best. So Will took the time to show me how to stretch each major area of the body, from the soleus muscle all the way up to the neck. He showed me how to use a foam roller and a stretch strap. He made sure I could recite back which stretches helped which area of the body.
Afterward, I nearly cried when it was time to say farewell. I’m so thankful for our time together and the confidence he inspired. I am seriously considering joining S&H now and working extra time just to do the occasional personal training session with Will, so I don’t lose momentum.
Thank to Will and Sport & Health Pike and Rose for the wonderful month of training, tips, and conversation. This is the first gym I’ve felt truly welcome at, and I’m planning to return. They have a full schedule of group classes, from I had such a life-changing THE DC MOMS readers, you get a free 7-day-pass if you want to check out the gym, including all classes offered during that time. Classes include BodyShred, Zumba, Tabata, Insanity, Yoga, BodyPump, Ugi, and more. Make sure to call (301) 656-9570 or stop in the gym and mention The DC Moms for your free 7-day-pass!
Tools of the Trade:
—Stretch Out Strap makes stretching easy for anyone, even someone not used to it.
—Raw Threads tops are great for working out, wick away sweat, and are also adorable.
—Sparkly Soul headbands are perfect and miraculously stay in place.
Lastly, I no longer have young kids who need childcare while I’m at a gym, but if I did, I would love the fact that Sport & Health offers a “Kidz Klub” for at-home parents who want to work out. There is also 2- 1/2 hour parking validation, in case you need some extra time in the sauna and shower after your challenging class or work out!
Sport & Health Pike and Rose is located at 11594 Old Georgetown Road Rockville, MD, 20852
I was offered a free month of membership and personal training in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own, and I’m definitely planning to join the gym.