The Drevitches, Week 6: The Toughest Part of Working Out

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

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Lynn worked hard in her first session with her trainer. Credit: Gary Drevitch

I knew when we began the Healthy Families Challenge that the biggest roadblock to exercise success would be our schedules. I was half right. The exercises are tough, too.

For a long time before we started this process, my wife, Lynn, and I had a difficult time making time for fitness. She would sneak in a workout before work maybe once a week, or an occasional lunchtime run on the treadmill. For me, the options were more limited. We'd each take kids to different schools each morning; after my drop-off, I would hustle to work. I have a shortened workday because I'm the one who comes home in time to be with the kids at the end of the day. Usually, I can't afford to take time off at lunch, either.

There was an oasis recently: During the month last summer when our 9-year-old son was at sleep-away camp, and his two siblings were together at day camp, either Lynn or I could work out every weekday morning. It felt great and we wanted to find a way to keep it up.

There were also weekends, of course, and we tried to slip in gym time between the kids' sports and activity schedules. But often, we'd find ourselves fighting over who would get to exercise during what was typically a single Sunday-morning window to get away. Who deserved to work out more? Who'd worked out last? Who had the tougher week? It could get heated.

That's changed now, thanks in part to the kids getting bigger -- as of this fall, fifth-grader Benjamin is old enough to walk himself and his sister to school on weekday mornings, and to and from Hebrew School on Sundays. That frees up Lynn and I each to have an early-morning personal-training session on a different day of the week, and it means we can both work out -- her first, then me -- on Sunday mornings. Beyond that, we're trying to unearth one lunch hour each week to break away from our offices and get to the gym.

It's still tough -- business meetings and events at the kids' schools have had us rescheduling our training sessions more often than I'm sure our trainers would like.

If our schedules are tough, our trainers are tougher. Each has focused us on the parts of a balanced exercise diet we'd each avoided.

Lynn's regular workout had been 90 percent cardio, a mix of treadmills and cross-trainers that built a sweat but not much strength. Now she's started sessions with her trainer, Jamar Grimball at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, and he is putting her through a stringent set of core exercises like squats and lunges, and weight-training machines where her biceps and triceps are pushed in ways she'd never considered in her old workouts.

The results are less sweat but more pain and, hopefully, in the end, more strength. She admits that a renewed focus on her muscles is a steep challenge.

My trainer, Victoria Gallagher New York Sports Clubs, has found plenty of areas of the gym I'd ignored over the years. She continues to push weight-training and cardio together -- recently, I've run up and down stairs while raising a dumbbell over my head to raise my heart rate while working my shoulders. And I'm doing crunches while raising a dumbbell over my head to work my abs and arms.

My gym-floor frenemy, the Bosu ball, is still a big part of our sessions. I'm now able to do push-ups on the ball with an added "mountain-climb" between each one. (In a mountain climb, you lift yourself into a "plank" position as you would for a push-up, but instead of a push up, you hold the position and bring one leg up and then the other, as if you were running up a hill. It's the type of exercise where, if you don't feel the burn in your gut quickly, you're doing it wrong.)

My main impression of the workouts I'm doing now is not how tough they are, or how achy I feel afterwards. No, mostly I feel a sense of disbelief that I can actually do the things I'm doing, things I never imagined I was in shape enough to do. For that, I can thank Victoria, and the fates that have opened up my schedule just enough to fit our sessions in.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Drevitch family doing? Check in on their progress!


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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.