More than 40 years ago, I enrolled at Berklee College of Music to study guitar, piano and instrumental performance. My initial thoughts were that it would be a fun two years where me and a bunch of musicians would sit around and trade licks and roadie jokes.
I was disabused of that notion in a hurry. In fact, I was on my way to my first nervous breakdown, compliments of the G.I. Bill.
At thirty, dusting off all those atrophied brain cells was agonizing. I found myself in a room with perfect-pitched prodigies analyzing Duke Ellington arrangements and sight-singing multi-staved compositions from the Baroque Era.
Oh, the buyer’s remorse I suffered. It was an incredible and valuable experience as I look in my rear view mirror…now.
But at the time, it appeared I was in over my head.
So last year, Mr. Brilliance decides, having forgotten all about 1976, to enroll in the National Association of Sports Medicine’s Certified Personal Trainer program. Fun, right? Running, jumping and pumping, right?
We all know how serious heart attacks are and this was similar in every way: tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, profuse sweating, palpitations. N.A.S.M., what have ye wrought? I paid upfront, no opting out.
What a revelation! If I didn’t have religion when I started, I do now. What an amazing species we are. We actually survive in spite of ourselves. This amazing contraption we ambulate around in has been built for optimal performance, we just never stop to contemplate our miraculous configurations.
This system of pulleys, levers, muscles and blood that comes factory fine-tuned for a hundred years boggles the mind…mine, anyway.
I struggled mightily with every time-tested physical concept that was presented to me. Wrapping my head around agonist, antagonist and synergistic muscle groups, ligaments, tendons, assessments and bone densities was certainly above me at the outset.
Again, it appeared I was in over my head.
Amazingly, some of the immediate personal gifts I received were answers to physical limitations and weaknesses in my own exercise regimen. For example, I could go two or three months full tilt on a program and something would come along and derail my efforts: back spasms, hamstring pulls, tendonitis, headaches, over training, stress related illnesses, the lists went on.
My good deeds never went unpunished.
Having to delve into biomechanics, respiratory capacities, nutritional science and muscle imbalances brightened up my dimly lit attic. Voila!
I have learned so much. My physical conundrums have all but vanished. At 71, I must admit to being in better physical condition than when I was drafted into the military at 19. Not one doubt.
I have a new career now and I will be sharing my learnings as a certified fitness professional. I have been very fortunate in this life. My mission statement has always been “How can I help?”
Now I have found a way.