Colossus Fitness – A Plug

Flat LogoSome things are changing at Colossus Fitness and I thought I’d both write about that, about the process that goes on with being a trainer outside the actual weight room, and also simultaneously plug my business.

So I’ve started online training and I think it’s going well, at least from what I hear from the guys doing it. There are advantages to doing training online and disadvantages, of course, and it isn’t for everyone. If you want to do online training, with me or with anyone, it’s a good choice if you physically can’t meet the trainer (because of time constraints or distance), or contractual things (you’re married to your own gym in some long term contract), or if for some reason you’re just really uncomfortable with the gym (though that’s something you probably should work on if you mean to transform your body and your life). The caveat is that in order to do online training, you have to be a pretty self-motivated person already. That is to say, if you need someone there to be your motivation, then online training probably won’t work for you… I can’t be there to motivate you in person. Some guys I work with only get in the gym at all because I’m there and I’m holding them accountable to be there. Otherwise they would be at home. But if you’re someone who can get yourself going, but you need my guidance to show you what to do and why, then online training probably would work for you.

From my end, online training would seem easier but it isn’t really. I miss the in-person motivation stuff as much as the client does. I can get a better read for how things are going with someone if I can physically see them (beyond just skype, that is). Plus there’s the danger of out of sight, out of mind. The constant presence of someone helps me too! But there are ways around all that. It just takes discipline, and I think I’ve gotten into the groove.

Also, when I set up the business I was kinda guessing at a lot of things like policies and prices, but now that I’ve been doing this for a few months I’ve got my feet wet and can set policies on purpose. I had set my prices arbitrarily low because I thought that mattered in the context I was used to working in (long story…), but now I realize I’m really way too cheap. The guys who want to work with me do so because of my expertise and my biography, not because of my used car dealer prices. Sure it’s a plus in some sense, but I could stand to price myself more in line with what I’m offering… Especially compared to other gyms in town which charge close to double what I’m charging.

In that vein, I am still working on a way to keep my time from getting wasted by flakey people. I’ve begun to really appreciate in the last few weeks why corporate gyms chain people to year long contracts and give them the hard sell up front… I’ve had so many people flake out on me in one way or another that it’s become incredibly frustrating. But I’m not going to do contracts or something. I just need a mechanism for charging people before they even see me… or maybe just accept that as the nature of the business. A free consultation up front has its benefits – it gets people talking and in my presence – but it’s also no-risk and people can blow me off pretty easily. It’s a tough line to walk.

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But, all that aside, business is going well! My first client, Jim, has made incredible progress. Since we started in May he has lost over 40 lbs and his strength is dramatically higher. More than that, though, he’s happier about himself both inside and out. It’s amazing the kind of transformation that takes place inside someone when they begin to take control of the outside. He’s a new person both inside and outside. All my guys are making progress in fact and it’s really rewarding to be working with them.

I still have room though. So if you live in the Chicago area and want to train with me, drop me a line. And if you don’t live near me, but still want to train, contact me about online training! I’m open to new clients either way.

See my site: http://facebook.com/colossusfit

Or see me: http://facebook.com/larkin.romaneski

Revenge Dating as a Swan

A lot of us who grew up fat or were fat for a long time but overcame that have what I call “Ugly Duckling” syndrome. I’ve mentioned it before obliquely, but it’s basically what you’d expect: we went from fat to fit but still carry the fat kid with us in a few ways. It actually reminds me of something my brother said – though it’s a pretty common aphorism I think – when talking about chasing women. He said that you don’t want the girl who has always been hot, because she knows she’s hot and expects more. You want the girl who used to be a fat dork because she doesn’t know she’s hot yet and you have a much better shot! A lot of us are like that. No matter what we look like on the other side of our journey through fitness, we will still be, to a lesser or greater degree, dysmorphic. What we see doesn’t really line up with reality entirely.

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The Hidden Traps

So I bragged on Facebook about a few of my clients last week. Several of them have made great progress: dramatic, visible progress. J___ is much leaner, T___ is practically a different person in the face, and C___ can slip out of his pants now without unbuttoning them. I’m proud of their success! And a little proud of my part in it.

But at the same time, a few guys have expressed frustration at their progress. Not that they aren’t making progress – all my guys are, even those who barely listen to me! But some of them want to hit the gas a little harder. C___ in particular wants to see some abs and tends to grumble that those aren’t making their debut quite fast enough. I’m sympathetic to a point – abs are bizarrely motivating, especially to us fatties who may never have seen them in the mirror – but only to a point. And I say that because my guys tend to fall into some pretty obvious traps. Traps I feel like I warned them about… but then again, maybe it’s one of those things where you can’t really warn people away from a hot stove until they put their hand on it.

So what are the biggest traps my clients fall into? Let’s look.

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Fat and Disgusting

There are a few reactions that people seem to have to obesity. Not just people in general, not just society at large, but also the obese themselves. And most of those reactions are destructive: even, or perhaps especially, the ones meant to help the obese. I’ve touched on this briefly, but I wanted to explore a little more here and bring in some other things I had been thinking. This may seem like an odd followup to the last post about dreaming bigger, but it’s been on my mind lately for several reasons.

The other day I was talking with someone and the subject of our conversation turned toward fitness – happens a lot when you’re a fitness professional. Specifically he brought up my work here in Chicago and how he thought I’d never want for more clients in the city because of how fat the city seemed to be. The sentiment has been expressed before to me – that Chicago is just a fat city and needs more health professionals – but then he went on to describe how fat and disgusting specific people were at the grocery store, buying Dr. Pepper and Oreo cookies with food stamps then shuffling toward the bus to take up two seats. It boggled his mind that in a city where you have to walk everywhere, there are still obese people in such numbers. The problem was that fat disgusting people just refused to eat healthy. “I just don’t understand how they can do that to themselves!” he exclaimed.

“No. You don’t…” I said.

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Shallow-Phobia

I promised I’d get back to the idea of body image in Fatties Don’t Get Phone Calls (2), and so here that is.

I get the impression from talking to people about their weight that there is a pervasive fear about seeming to be shallow. This fear of seeming shallow colors a lot of what people think about themselves and their relationships to others, especially if like me they grew up struggling with weight and body image. People will go to unreasonable lengths to avoid the appearance of vanity, to such an extent that they end up making unhealthy and destructive choices in life… because it seems better than appearing shallow. It can keep us from making positive changes in our life and even sabotage us in some ways.

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Fatties Don’t Get Phone Calls (2)

I want to expand on both my “fatties don’t get phone calls” post and something I alluded to recently in this post about masculinity and self image. This won’t necessarily apply to all my readers, or maybe even most of you, but it’s part of what shaped my experience growing up with obesity and what I know shaped the experiences of several other former fat boys I’m acquainted with. Most of the experiences of being fat and young can be pretty generalized – a lot of what I’ve written so far speaks to a lot of people who used to be fat or are still struggling with their weight – but there are things that not everyone struggled with. But maybe as I write this, the broader application to everyone will emerge on its own.

Fatties don’t get phone calls. My episode with Starla reinforced that fear for me. What’s funny is that on the one hand, yes, I felt rejected because of my weight and that hurt. But it didn’t hurt like it might because I was only partially invested in trying to date her, or even to date my ex girlfriends in high school. The main way that my weight impacted my love life was that it basically kept me in the closet until I was about 24.

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You Know You’re Beautiful… Right?

Was just asked this. I got asked it last night too while I was out and about. And really, I get asked it some some frequency now that I think about it. There’s something about my personality when people see me in person that seems incongruous I think. From a distance, I look like a jerk and a douche and a stereotype. I look like I’ll be conceited and superior and condescending and abrasive. I look like I’ll be Big Guy at the beach kicking sand in the nerd’s face. But when someone speaks to me, I’m not that way at all. The departure from the stereotype is jarring for some people. I’m apparently sweet and funny and playful and kind and magnanimous… and it contrasts with how I look. So people ask me, “You know you’re beautiful… right?”

Here’s the thing: knowing and feeling aren’t the same thing. I see my flaws magnified 1000x because they’re mine. For a long time after I lost all the weight and got big and strong, compliments made me squirm. I didn’t like the scrutiny because I didn’t really understand it (and because I’d been used to feeling scrutinized in a negative way). It’s hard for me to take a compliment… and if I get asked something like the above, I don’t know how to respond! I know I should feel one way and respond with something gracious. But I usually end up saying something clumsy that reveals that, no, in fact, I don’t really realize what I look like. And I’m embarrassed to be reminded that what I see in myself is still in contrast to what everyone else sees.

Embarrassed, but also in some way encouraged. Encouraged to know that I am doing well and that what I feel is just a feeling and not reality. It’s hard to change that feeling though. Because whatever we look like now, to one degree or another guys like me will be haunted by our inner fat kid.

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