The Tonawanda News
The “old Rick” would never have woken up at 4 a.m. Let’s face it, it wasn’t too many years ago that fun son of a gun would still be out at 4 a.m., probably devouring steak, eggs and homefries somewhere in Buffalo following an Elmwood Avenue bar crawl.
For the record, the old Rick would also mock me for calling myself the old Rick and referring to myself in the third person.
But I do consider there to be a “new” me — one born the moment I forced myself out of my warm bed on a recent Saturday for a 5 a.m. workout at ChrisFit Personal Training. Less than 10 hours earlier, my trainer Chris Tybor texted me and asked if I wanted to work out with him in the a.m.
Skipping over the a.m. part momentarily, I contemplated what lifting side-by-side with Chris would be like instead of him kicking my tail as per usual.
Sadly, my initial reaction and fear was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I didn’t want to ruin his own workout by forcing him to stop and peel my exhausted carcass off the floor.
But I typed in “OK” anyway, thinking maybe it was some sort of test.
The invite was sincere. Then came the kicker — he was planning on doing his personal workout at 5 a.m. before the gym even opened.
I thought about texting back, “since when is there a 5 a.m.?” but didn’t think he would appreciate the joke.
In all honesty, I had more than enough legitimate excuses for taking a rain check. First and foremost, I wasn’t likely to get out of work until at least 11 p.m. the night before, giving me, at best, four hours of sleep before trying to push through an intense hour-long session, which is double my normal training.
Something inside wouldn’t allow me to pass it up though. I had a bad weigh-in the day before and promised myself to up my commitment moving forward.
Later that night, I got another text from Chris, and couldn’t help but hope he was going to congratulate me for calling his bluff.
Instead, the ominous message read “Six hours to D-Day.”
My imagination immediately constructed a fantasy where D-Day was a visit to Dunkin Donuts for hot chocolate, hash browns and a breakfast sandwich. Oh boy was I in trouble.
I made sure to wake up an hour before the workout to provide enough time to digest my breakfast (a tip I learned the hard way) and make the drive to the Hyde Park Boulevard gym.
Chris was happy to see me — well, happy in the sense of “I am going to enjoy killing you with no witnesses.”
As I walked up the steps, eyes still half shut, I wondered what Chris’ workout regimen included. Maybe he was all talk and his own training focused on low-impact, leisurely exercises while talking about the morning’s sports news and Batman comic books.
Yeah, and D-Day really does stand for Dunkin’s.
“You have water, right?” he asked, actually meaning “you better have water or you will die.”
First up were deadlifts, easily one of the most physically and mentally demanding exercises. We took turns with a couple lightweight warm-ups before I got my first lesson on stacking barbells properly (letters and indents on the inside).
Twenty minutes later, I had deadlifted a new personal record of 315 pounds and was feeling great.
Oh, and Chris had done around 400 or so, I lost track. Show off.
One thing I quickly realized is I have to work on my gym partner lingo. Chris has gotten me through plenty of final squats, deadlifts and bench presses with encouragement gems such as “all day” and “come on, get angry.”
But as he began his set of deadlifts, all I could offer was “go” at a barely audible level, masterfully followed by “up.”
At one point, it looked like Chris was struggling and I yelled out “one more.”
He did six more. Show off.
The rest of the hour was spent on various back exercises that luckily I didn’t have much trouble with. Soon, 6 a.m. (my new favorite time) had arrived and both Chris and I congratulated each other on a solid workout together as equals.
“Now go do at least 45 minutes of cardio,” my trainer said.
At 6:45 a.m. (my new, new favorite time), I proudly limped out of ChrisFit and into the (still dark) Saturday morning, feeling like a new man.
I must have done OK — and not held Chris back too much — because he texted me the next day with the idea that more of my training sessions take place at the same time as his.
I didn’t know whether to feel honored or throw up.
Honestly, it is an honor though. Chris is an expert and does this for a living. I am doing this to live. The opportunity to train alongside him is something too good to pass up no matter how many early mornings or sore afternoons in my future.
Feeling an adrenaline rush, I even asked his permission for me to come in and voluntarily push my nemesis The Prowler before doing an hour of cardio later that week.
The new me has officially gone crazy, but I feel fine.
Rick Forgione is city editor of the Niagara Gazette. Contact him at 282-2311, ext. 2257.