I’m sore as hell right now, and I love it.

I used to think people I knew who worked out all the time and said that were nuts. Really. I mean, who wants to be sore all the time, right? But I’ve really learned to love the feeling of pushing my body into doing things I couldn’t do before, and that entails being sore.

In psychological terms, I have positively reinforced the soreness with the flood of good feelings I have when I push myself and do something new. The lesson is sinking in: Exercise. Feels. Good.

Part of my strategy on my journey from couch potato to an active lifestyle has been to try out this, that, and the other, looking for what sticks. Which activities do I enjoy so much that it doesn’t feel like work? What do I come back to? There are a few things.

The rock climbing gym. I mean, I just love it. I made the trek into Albuquerque last week for Stone Age Climbing Gym’s ladies night, only to find the place full to capacity. It was very disappointing! But I’ll definitely go back, because it’s just insane amounts of fun.

Playing basketball or other games with my grandsons is just fun—way more fun than sitting on a bench watching them like I used to do, which, sorry, grandsons, but I really find that rather dull.

Swimming is something else I’ll do without a thought about exercise. It’s just pure enjoyment to a desert rat like myself. I just wish there were somewhere close enough to swim on a regular basis.

Weight lifting is another thing that I have discovered I really enjoy. It makes me feel strong and gives me a place to release some macho energy. I’ve been enjoying it so much, I thought I would take it to the next level and work with a personal trainer.

I wanted to do that for a couple of reasons, but mainly so that I can learn good technique with free weights, so that I don’t injure myself. I saw a card on the wall at the gym, and I had seen the guy around there a lot, so I set up an appointment.

Daniel Jaramillo spotting a client as he lifts weights. Photo by Leota Harriman.

Daniel Jaramillo spotting a client as he lifts weights. Photo by Leota Harriman.

Jaramillo Personal Training is owned by 23-year-old Daniel Jaramillo, a N.A.S.M., or National Academy of Sports Medicine, certified trainer.

I’ve now worked with him twice and have a standing weekly appointment.

If you know me, you’ll know I’m a wee bit contrary—I don’t like being told what to do. The surest way to get me not to do something is to tell me I have to do it. So I had a bit of trepidation in working with a trainer. But I find Daniel has a nice style of pushing that works for me.

I interviewed him last week.

This young go-getter said he was “in a bad place,” when exercise helped him pull himself out of it. He is now a full-time personal trainer. “I forced myself to be successful,” he said. “I quit my nice safe job, starting at zero dollars. … I just, like to go out and get it, not sit around and wait for life to happen.”

He said working with a personal trainer equates to sticking to an exercise regimen statistically, quoting me some interesting numbers: that 70 percent of Americans will start some sort of workout program, with 80 percent of those folks quitting in the first three months. Conversely, 80 percent of those working with a trainer stick with it, he said.

That meshes with my experience. It still bugs me that I would work harder to keep an appointment with Daniel than I would to keep a promise to myself, but I’ve decided that whatever works is fine. If it helps me follow through to have a gym buddy or trainer, I’m going for it. My aim here is success in changing life patterns, not beating myself up about how I’m doing it.

The downside to working with a trainer, Daniel said, is the cost. At $15 an hour, that could add up. But he put that into perspective also: “Is your health a luxury or is eating out a luxury?” he asked. “Where do you want to invest your money? You decide.”

Other benefits of working with a trainer include learning good form and technique, to avoid injury. Most of the resistance he gets from his clients is some version of, “I don’t want to.” Um, yeah, I can relate. But for me, shelling out that 15 bucks motivates me to do what he gives me to do.

I also asked Daniel to talk about the emotional benefits of getting exercise. He said going to the gym and working with a trainer is stressful, but that helps you learn to deal with stress outside the gym. He said, “My personal motto, because I live it, is, ‘You conquer in the gym, you conquer outside the gym.’ Because you overcome. You go out to the world outside the gym and you know how strong you really are.”

It has become a truism that exercise helps with stress and I am right here to vouch for that one. I have a hugely stressful and demanding job, just went through maybe the biggest life change ever, the empty nest, and I’ve got commitments and projects going all over the place. I’m not going to say I never feel stressed out, but exercise eases it a lot.

He works with clients ranging from a semi-pro football player to an 89-year old, focusing on each individual’s needs with a tailored exercise program.

The way Daniel put it is this, “What’s worthwhile is hard, but you see how strong you are. It’s all in your mind, and it is hard, but what’s harder is regret. You can just stay the way you are, asking what if, what if. There’s pain and regret there. The pain of going to the gym is much better than that, because at least you’re doing something.”

If you’re interested in working with Daniel, you can reach him at 505-452-6160.

Do you work with a trainer? What’s your experience? You can contact me at leota@lobo.net or 505-286-1212. Or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!”