Thursday, June 4, 2009


The trainers at the YMCA Boot Camp are wonderful. They are very diverse in their styles which help to keep the sessions interesting. They keep you guessing as to what exercise you will be doing and they know how to push you to your limits.

As I stated in a previous article, the Boot Camp is not only a physical journey but an emotional one as well. Each trainer has pushed my emotional buttons.

Mikey the Marine is tough and I think if Mikey had his way, he would love to run a Boot Camp exactly as it is done in the Marines. He pushes us hard and demands respect but yet there are moments when I can see a completely different side to him. Mikey has come up to me several times with a certain look in his eyes and told me, “Do you know how amazing you are?” I was confused by those words the first time he said them. I have never been called amazing in my life. I wanted to turn around and see if he was talking to someone behind me but…..hello….he was right here talking to me! The obese old lady! He has a look about him that really makes me believe that I have astounded him! He tells me that he sees me giving my one hundred percent and that he is amazed at what I can do. My heart tells me that those words are not just for show. Mikey the Marine actually cares about me!

Nestor the Youngster is grueling. He loves to put us through drills that keep us moving. Our movement never seems to slow down or stop with Nestor. Even at his tender young age, Nestor is intent on teaching you the correct form and making sure you understand how to do a move. I met Nestor during my second session of Boot Camp. By then I had completed one eight week session and during the orientation for the second session, Nestor leaned down and looked into my eyes and said, “Are you ready for me?” I looked at the Youngster and said, “Are you ready for me?” Nestor said in a menacing tone, “Have you heard about me?” I turned to Nestor and said, “Yeah honey, but have YOU heard about ME!” That started a great relationship. Nestor drives me and encourages me continually. “Come on Doris…you can do it.” “Come on D (the nickname he and Rico call me), don’t quit on me now. Are you going to let me beat you?” are words I constantly hear from Nestor and I usually get a high five when I complete the task. I am amazed at the relationship that this youngster and I have formed. I truly feel that he cares about me!

Rambo Rico is amazing. He gets on a roll and his brutal sessions will often go over an hour because he is on the train to an exercise high and we are in the caboose tagging along. No one complains. We just keep exercising. Rico is boisterous and loud and I actually detested him the first several weeks of Boot Camp. I just did not like him and I constantly told my best friend who got me involved in this that I did not like Rico at all. She was shocked. I don’t know what happened or what changed but suddenly, Rambo Rico became someone I truly care for, admire and respect. He constantly does little things that impress me. I have seen him act as a role model for several youth and watched him interact with the other trainers, member and employees at the YMCA. He is open and easy to talk to. I feel I can tell him anything and I do. He wants everyone to succeed and he pushes us hard. Rico has proved to me that he really cares about me!

Oshun has a way of bringing out my innermost secrets and fears. I don’t know how she does it but she forces me to confront things I do not want to confront! I attended a morning session where Oshun had us doing team races. We had to run to a set of cones and jump over them ten times. After the cones, we were to run to a folding chair that our team mate was holding, step up and down on the chair ten times and then race back to the line where our team mates were waiting. I called Oshun to the side and told her I could not do the chair. She asked if it was because of my knee and I responded no. She asked why. With tears welling up from embarrassment, I explained that I was afraid that the chair would collapse because of my weight. Again, Oshun told me I would do it. When it was my turn, she told the young man holding the chair that I was afraid of getting up on the chair and to hold it steady. She made it seem like it was because of my knee. Not my fat. She then held my hand and said, “Let’s go!” I successfully confronted my fear and finished the chair challenge.

Another morning, Oshun tells us to get jump ropes. Suddenly my mind screams, “Jump rope? I am a woman who weighs almost 300 pounds! My God woman! I have not jumped rope since elementary school some 48 years ago! There is no way I can jump rope, let alone across the gym!” I don’t know what hit me but I start tearing up. I tell Oshun that I can’t jump rope. She tells me I can and don’t worry. I wipe my tears hoping that no one else sees me. Another recruit who has taken me under her wing, Angela, saw me and asks if I’m o.k. I brush it off and tell her I am but deep down I just want to burst out in heavy sobs. I suck it up, line up and with Oshun’s encouragement, I at least complete a few jumps. This obese old lady can jump rope! Oshun seems to know my inner soul. I know for a fact that she cares about me!

The trainers are all different but somehow they all seem to know that underneath this jolly obese woman is another woman who is very embarrassed by her obesity, feels unworthy in life and is upset by her lack of mobility. This woman would love to be able to try new things but she will not because of the body in which she is entombed. That woman is fighting to get out!

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and the trainers care about me and maybe…just maybe….I deserve to be there?

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.

(Note – best wishes to David Cruz who is leaving his position as Membership and Wellness Director to go to nursing school full time.)

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