Day 5

Chapter 6: Martin

I arrive at one minute to six.
There are two people in the waiting room. One of them is Rick, and the other one is a young guy I’ve never met.
“Good morning!” Rick says. “This is Luke. Luke, this is Martin.”
How has Rick managed to get this shift again? I was hoping he wouldn’t show his face until two.
“Hi,” I say. “Nice to meet you, Luke.”

I turn to Rick.

“Where’s Connie?”
“She’s switching shifts with me, so she’ll be in around two.”

He smiles at Luke.

“Martin’ll work with you.”
“Great. I can’t wait.”
“If you come to my office, we can have a chat and I can tailor an exercise program to meet your needs.”
“Shoot,” Rick says. “I mean Luke will be shadowing you to see how it’s done here.”
Shadowing me?

Like a trainee?
“I made sure you had a full schedule,” Rick says. “There’s somebody coming at seven for an intake and full first workout, then Melanie and Frank at nine.” He spouts off a list of times and people, but I’m hardly paying attention.

First Frank and now Luke. Why can’t he shadow Karin or one of the others?
“Sounds good,” Luke says.
Why can’t it be a girl shadowing me?
Then Frank could talk to her and Melanie wouldn’t be so distracted and would talk to me more.
The door opens, and a woman comes in.
“Hi,” she says.
She’s about thirty-five, has brown hair, and is almost morbidly obese.
“Natasha?” Rick says.
“That’s me. I’m a tad early. Hope that’s okay.”
She must be the new intake.
“If you’re here for seven, you’re not too early.”
“I am. Who am I working with?”
“Martin and Luke, these two men here.”
She looks us up and down. She smiles at me but doesn’t pay much attention to Luke.
“Luke’s shadowing me,” I say. “There may be a few times when I need to pull him aside and discuss things with him. I’ll try to keep that to a minimum. We won’t be talking about you, but about Luke’s training.”
“Yeah okay, as long as he’s not allowed to do anything to me.”
There’s an uncomfortable silence.
Rick’s big mouth fills it, as usual.
“Nobody will do anything to you. We suggest exercises and show you how to do them.”
She looks disappointed.
“Luke and I need to have a discussion first, and then we’ll be back at seven for your session.”
Luke follows me into my office and takes a seat without being invited.
I learn that he’s twenty-five, wants to shadow me for a month, and doesn’t have any health problems or conditions.
At a couple minutes before seven, we walk back into the waiting room.
“Let’s go into my office,” I say.
There’s not much room, but Luke stands and lets Natasha have the chair.
“I’ll get another chair for you tomorrow,” I say.
“Oh, I don’t mind standing.”
“What kind of exercises am I going to do?”
“Luke, would you like to ask the questions?”
“Sure. Um, what are your training goals?”
“Isn’t that kinda obvious?”
Luke looks at me.
“Nothing is obvious. Please answer Luke’s question.”
I sound like a cop or a lawyer from some bad TV show.
“Losing weight, duh.”
“Do you have any additional goals?”
“Do you follow a nutrition plan?”
“Like a diet?”
“Either a diet or a meal plan or any other kind of nutrition advice.”
“Um, it’s been shown that following an eating plan combined with physical exercise is the best way to lose weight.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that too, but I don’t want a diet.”
“Um, all right. If you change your mind, we can give you contact info for a dietitian. Um, do you have any medical conditions?”
“Yeah, diabetes.”
“Type 1 or 2?”
“Type 2.”
He asks about medication and she shows us.
“Do you test your sugar?”
“How are the readings?”
“A little high sometimes.”
“I strongly recommend you meet with a dietitian as well as starting your program with us.”
“Is this interrogation gonna take all my time? I have work at ten.”
“No, we’ll get to the exercise part very soon. Where do you work?”
“Is that relevant?”
“Probably not, but I’m curioous.”
“Don’t be.”
Why is she being so unfriendly? She could say she’d rather not tell us or something a little nicer.
He gave her the chair, and it’s not like he’s asking really intimate questions.
“What kinds of exercises do you like?”
She shrugs.
“Well, how about we try a few different things and see what you like best? I suggest some cardio, strength training, and stretching.”
We go to the gym.
Luke shows her a bunch of exercises, and she complains that each one is either too hard or too uncomfortable.
By 8:30, I’m feeling sorry for Luke, but he’s doing all the right things, so I don’t step in.
“Do you know any yoga?” she asks me after telling Luke that “this stretch is too impossible for me to manage.”
“No, sorry.”
“I do,” Luke says. “Did you want me to show you some next time?”
For the first time, she smiles at him.
“I’m not qualified to supervise yoga,” I say, “so for those sessions, we’ll need to find somebody who is.”
“You can switch with me,” Tim says.
“Who are you?” Natasha asks.
“I’m Tim. I usually watch the gym area, but I’d be happy to supervise Luke while he teaches you some yoga.”
“Thanks Tim,” I say.
Maybe Luke can do an hour helping Tim supervise the gym after, so there won’t be many men with Melanie.
There’s a small step down when you leave the gym.

Natasha trips and falls.
“Help!” she screams.
“Where are you hurt?” Luke asks.
She ignores him.
“Martin, come quick, help me!”
“I’m right here,” I say. “Where do you hurt?”
“My ankle!”
I look at her left ankle and touch it carefully. I’m pretty sure it’s broken.
“Luke, I think Natasha’s ankle is broken. Can you call an ambulance please?”
Melanie and Frank arrive just as the ambulance does.
“Should we come back later?” Melanie asks.
“No, we’ll be gone soon,” the male paramedic says.
“Martin, will you come with me?”
Crap. I never thought of somebody going with her.
“I can come with you,” Luke says.
“I didn’t ask you.”
“Tell you what,” the same paramedic says. “We’ll take you to the hospital and then you can call a friend or family member.”
“I want Martin with me.”
“We don’t mind waiting,” Frank says, and Melanie nods.
The ambulance ride is excruciatingly uncomfortable, not because of the ride, but because of how Natasha behaves.
She won’t let Dawn, the paramedic anywhere near her, but wants only to hold my hand very tightly the whole way to the hospital.
Thank goodness the ER isn’t too busy, and the doctor’s a guy in his fifties. Instantly, I’m forgotten and she smiles seductively at him and tells him how very much her ankle hurts.
I hope he suggests an eating plan, because I’m sure she’ll hang on his every word and follow it to the letter.

“Is she okay?” Melanie asks, the moment I walk through the door.

“She’s with a doctor,” I say. “Ready?”

“Yep,” Frank says. “How long do we have before your next client?”

“Let me just check that quickly.”

“About forty-five minutes,” Rick says.

“Guess what?” Frank says. He and Melanie have just started their warm-ups on a couple of bikes.

“What?” Melanie says.

“My doctor says my test results are great. My arteries aren’t as bad as they were before I started coming here.”

“That’s wonderful! Congrats.”


“That’s great,” Luke says.

“It is,” I say.

“Just for a laugh, I asked him if I could try HIIT!”

“What’d your doctor say?” Melanie asks.

“He gave me a strange look but he said if I was crazy enough, and the trainer was any good, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

“Are you going to try it?” Melanie asks.

“I might. He also told me to make dang sure I have a heart monitor. He recommended this.” He shows us his wrist.

“Nice watch,” Melanie says. “It looks like stainless steel!”

“That’s because it is. It’s an Apple Watch. It does ECG or whatever it’s called.”

“For your heart rhythm?” Luke says.

“Yeah, something like that. It’ll tell me if I’m overdoing things.”

So will I, I think. I’m better than any gadget money can buy.

“It might be useful, but don’t depend on it. Make sure you know the signs of a heart attack.”

“I do. Would you do HIIT with me?”

“I’ll let you know on Wednesday.”

It’s a long day, and I don’t end up leaving until 5:15.

Dinner is ready, and Susan is just putting the plates on the table.

“Hi honey,” she says. She smiles broadly. “Did you have a nice day?”

“It was a little long, and a client broke her ankle, but she’ll be okay, and the rest of the day went well.”

“Oh no, that’s no fun. A girl in my class broke her ankle in sixth grade. Her mom wouldn’t even let her take a few days off, but made her use crutches and go to school.”

“My mom probably would have done the same.”

“No way, she’s so nice.”

“She is, but she can do tough love, trust me.”

The next morning, Susan wakes me at five.

“Breakfast is ready,” she says.

“Oh, I didn’t hear the alarm.”

“I figured I’d let you sleep until there was something for you to eat.”


I eat and then kiss her goodbye.

She kisses back like she wants more, but there’s no time, so I gently pull away.

The day is long and boring.

When we’re not working with clients, we’re doing a couple hours supervising the gym.

I come home to a hot dinner, and we have the rest of the evening to finish the kissing we started this morning.

Wednesday morning is the same as Tuesday morning, except we eat a different breakfast.

“Look at what I got!” Melanie says. She and Frank are in the waiting room, where I’ve gone to meet them.

“An Apple Watch!” Frank says.

“Yes, and it’s exactly the same model as yours.”

“That’s cool,” Luke says. “I think I’m gonna get me one too.”

“Remember what I said about depending on those things,” I say.

“Yes, I’ll keep it in mind,” he says.

The door opens and Karin enters.

“Hey, Karin, what’s up?” Rick says.

“Today’s the day. I called Connie, and she’s coming to relieve you right about . . .”

The door opens again, and Connie, a petite woman in her forties, comes in.

“Now,” Karin says.

“Why now?”

“It’s syllabus-testing day!”

“Somebody, please, help!”

“What do you need help with?” Luke says.

“Don’t worry,” Karin says. “He’s just joking.”

“I am not!”

“Let’s get going,” I say. “C’mon you three. To the gym.”

“So,” Frank says when we enter the gym, “are you gonna let me do some of that HIIT?”

Crap! I forgot to think about it.

“Well, um, I’m not sure yet.”

“Come on Martin,” Melanie says, “let him try it.”

“Yeah,” Luke says. “Besides, he’s got the watch.”

“I’ll think about it some more. I’d better not promise when I’ll let you know. For today though, it’s the usual.”

I wait until they’re gone before pulling Luke asided.

“I don’t want to hear you talking about that watch like it’s magic, got it? It’s a flashy piece of metal, nothing more.”

“I looked them up and they-”

“I don’t care. Frank is an old man, and I don’t want to watch him die of a heart attack because he trusted some piece of crap to keep him alive. He looks up to us, and we have to set a good example.”

“Um, okay, but I should let you know I’m ordering one.”

“That’s fine, but don’t become a salesman instead of a trainer. Is that understood?”


On Friday, Frank arrives early, and his wife is with him.

“Hello,” Luke says. “I’m Luke, working with Martin.”

“Nice to meet you,” she says. “I’m Matilda. I have a craft group at nine, and thought I’d give Frank a lift.”

“That’s great,” Luke says. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Since you’re here, now is the best time for me to let Frank know what I’ve decided.”

“Oh, about that HIIT thing?”

“Yes, about that.”

“Thank the Lord. The man has been talking my ear off about that for days now! Please, put him out of his misery.”

“Yes to HIIT, but on one condition.”

“Which is?” Frank says.

“You wear a heart monitor.”

“I already am.” He indicates his watch.

“I mean the kind that you strap to your chest.”

“I agree,” Luke says. “Never hurts to have two. Do you have one?”

“Tell me the name of it and I’ll buy you one,” Matilda says.

“We sell them here,” Rick says.

Matilda pays, hands the box to Frank, kisses him, says goodbye to all of us, and leaves.

“When can we start?”

“Well, that depends on the schedule. If we’re doing HIIT, I don’t really want to do the shared workouts, at least not while either of you is a beginner.”

“Your next appointment is for 10:30,” Rick says.

“Great. Who wants to go first?”

“Does your taxi come at ten?” Melanie says.

“That’s right.”

“You can go first.”


“Where should I wait?” Melanie asks.

“You can wait here,” Rick says.

I don’t like this, but I do need to be able to concentrate, and there isn’t really anywhere else she can wait, except for in the gym.

“How was it?” Melanie is practically jumping up and down when Frank, Luke, and I emerge from the gym.

“It’s very intense,” Frank says. “It was so much more fun than that long, boring hour.”

“And,” Luke says, “both heart monitors agreed.”

“They agreed it was fun?” Melanie asks.

Luke laughs.

“They agreed on his heart rate.”

“Awesome! Can I start mine?”

She probably can, but I’m not ready today. I need to wait until Luke’s not following me around like a new puppy.

“When it’s time, I’ll let you know. Let’s book for next week. I start at six now, so you don’t have to wait for nine.”

“I can’t do that early or Matilda would kill me,” Frank says.

“Why would she kill you?” Melanie asks.

“Oh, I don’t know how to make the smoothies and such. Part of my education at the hands of my doctor was to learn to eat less bacon and eggs and more green stuff. Matilda doesn’t like to get up before seven, and I don’t have a clue how she makes all that weird stuff taste good.”

“Can I do six?” Melanie asks. “I love getting up early.”

“You sure can,” I say.

“Aw shucks,” Frank says. “I’m gonna miss chatting with you while we work out.”

“It won’t be for long,” she says. “Once we’re advanced HIIT athletes, we’ll share Martin again.”

“Once you’re advanced HIIT atheletes, you won’t need a trainer anymore,” Luke says.

Would you hate me if I sucker-punched him?





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