An Inspirational Story of Commitment

Hello my fit friends. Happy Cinco De Junio. No, today isn’t a holiday. I just thought I would wish you a happy day.

And now it is time for a feel good story. A story of accomplishment and commitment. A true story that makes me feel good as a personal trainer. This is the story of my United Communications Group exercise group in Gaithersburg, Maryland.


The group originally began as a walking group. U.C.G.’s HR department contacted me last spring to see if I would run an exercise group for them in the evenings. I said “sure!” I tricked the participants and called it a “walking group”, with me fully knowing that I could never, ever, get paid to have someone just walk. If you exercises with me, you will eventually lift weights, jog hills, and you might even do a 5k.

Our first session was last summer at 5pm (I think). For our first session I had them walk around a lake adjacent to the U.C.G. offices, and then we did some exercises on a yoga mat. The WALK around the lake which is .77 of a mile, and the exercise routine without weights, was tough for some of the participants. Some of them admitted to me that they hadn’t been exercising for a while. Good! Because that is what one of my job descriptions is: To get people moving that haven’t been doing so, and to keep them moving.

We continued to workout outdoors, weather providing, twice a week, for one hour per session. Over the next few months I made the sessions harder and harder. We incorporated weights, and I had them running up and down a grassy, undulating hill, next to the lake. At one point I even brought pulling sleds for them to do, and they obliged. I never said they didn’t complain, but they always obliged.

And then the days got shorter and it began to get cold. The group was in full swing by now. They were all getting stronger, and their endurance was improving. We couldn’t stop! What to do? Well, as it turns out, the office building where the U.C.G. offices are has a gym in it. We contacted the person who runs the gym, I met with him and explained what we were doing, filled out some paper work, and it was a go. We were, and are, allowed to use the gym twice per week for group training. And the group was in for a treat, especially the one’s who had never lifted weights before.

In the gym I split up the group of 8 to 10 into two groups. While one group did cardio for 5 to 10 minutes, the other group did circuit training with weights. They did lunges, squats, lat pull-downs, cable rows, shoulder presses, and even a Gravi-tron machine that aids in doing pull-ups. It was great!

Then one day I noticed that while I was training the group on weights, the group on the cardio machines was just chatting away, like if they were just having a pleasant walk in the park. I thought “Oh, heck no! I will never get paid to have someone just walk and chat during a Hector session.” So I brainstormed, “What can I do to push them on cardio, while indoors?” And I realized that I could use the one thing that all buildings have, if not, most. Steps!!! Yes steps, as in stairs!!! So I said “ladies were doing steps today, follow me.” They thought I was nuts. And they are correct.

The first time they did the steps, 5 floors worth, they were gassed. They couldn’t believe how difficult it is to walk up steps, briskly, without stopping. Over time they got better at it. To further condition them, I gave them homework of 10 sets (that means all the way to the top, and all the way back down is one set) of steps during the week, in addition to our workouts. They all did the homework, I mean office work, too. Their endurance improved tremendously.

Whenever I see improvements in clients I always think “What can I do next to further get them fit?” So I added light indoor jogs to their indoor circuit training. And then it hit me, “Once the weather improves, I will have them do a 5K!!!” When I told them about my grand plan, they thought I was loco.

The weather improved, and we started training outdoors again. And what had started months earlier as a walk around the lake, was now a non-stop jog. For our sessions we did about 20 to 30 minutes of cardio around the lake, and then went into the gym for weight training. It worked well. How well has the training gone? Yesterday, the group did a 5k around the lake.

To make it a Hector 5k, I had them also do a Farmer’s walk for about 40 yards, with a 50 pound trap bar. And that was after the 5k! Here are some pictures of yesterday’s event.

This is our fastest runner, Andrea. She did the 5k like in 30 minutes or so.


Shalisa and Jocelyn.


Carmel and Deanna. They love to chat.


Laura and Mona. Mona is very funny and motivated.


Group hug congratulating Jeannine on her 5k completion.


Chris waiting at the finish line to give Maureen a high-five.



Shalisa, smiling as always, even during her farmer’s walk.DSC_0247

Maureen told me mid-walk “this is heavy”.

DSC_0254Jeannine enjoys lifting weights, but even she thought the bar was heavy. DSC_0269


Kelley plays soccer on weekends AND participates in bootcamp!DSC_0279

Group cheer for Laura and Mona finishing the 5k.


That’s the U.C.G. crew. We are officially a Bootcamp group.


Next challenge, obstacle courses in the mud! Good job ladies.