I have a man in my life.
I've had a man in my life for about five years now, though he isn't a partner, or a lover or a boyfriend.
The man in my life is my personal trainer - affectionately known as Pinochet. Pinochet's real name is Juan Pedro - or Ped for short, but that's a bit hard for my Mypongan sensibilities to get around, so I call him Pinochet (behind his back, of course) - after all, he is from Chile and he is a dictator at times.
Pinochet is best described as hot in a soccer player kind of way - dark skinned, lithe, bread roll bum over lean legs - with the odd tattoo. He used to have dreadies, but now he sports a number two crew cut. As it's been pointed out to me, he's damned attractive - but where as some see his boyish enthusiasm as charming - I just see labrador puppy.
I can't remember life without Pinochet - well, I can, but I don't like to think of that life. I first took on his services in the weeks after I was dumped by my last boyfriend at the start of 2008. Stinging from the break up, and being told by this loser that I was too thin (despite my weight being up around the 110 kg mark) I enlisted at the local gym and took up the personal training offer they had going. I was assigned Pinochet. It was the start of a beautiful, occasionally expletive-ridden friendship.
After the first few sessions where I could barely move the next day, I slowly - very slowly, learned that if you're going to pay somebody to put you through abuse, the more effort you do in the week, the less it hurts after he has his way with you. With his guidance, he's helped me loose and keep off 20-30 kilos, get really fit, start running half marathons, lift solid weights and finally, after four decades of hating my body, I've finally got the strength and fitness and tone that I love and relish. It was me who did the work - but he's he been there guiding me along. He knows I won't do burpees, but will squat with 25 kilos on my back all the session if he so wishes (love squats). He gently pushes my ageing body to do more and more. He's helped instil a sense of pride in my body and in who I am.
The other great thing about him is that he trains us in pairs and groups of three. Over the years, I've made some great friends with the women I train with. He believes that in training in pairs, we give each other support as well as egg each other on. Yes, there is brinkmanship, but there's also a lot support through these women. The network is brilliant - gives you another reason to go to the gym.
See, though I pay Pinochet to put me through my paces on a weekly basis - the best incentive to get myself to the gym in between times, over the years he's become a proxy little brother.
See, like most of the women whom he trains, and with whom I train, Pinochet is the younger brother most of us never had. I'll phrase that differently. Pinochet is the enthusiastic, well-meaning, reprobate kid brother that most of us feel the need to begrudgingly take care of.
Jay, one of the women I train with who's become a friend over the years, said the same thing.
"You know he's going on a cruise next week?" she asked as we were coming out of Pump the other day.
"Really? Heaven help the high seas. That's just asking for trouble."
"Indeed. Can you see it?"
"He's going to go overboard or come back with something nasty."
Thing is, Pinochet doesn't get into 'that' much trouble. Okay, his speeding tickets are a thing of legend and his wonderful, fun business ideas leave most of his clients (who are professional women for the most part) shaking our heads, partly in horror, partly in envy. Knowing I know where to get a bouncy castle really appeals to me for some strange reason - his latest endeavour.
The other thing that is irritating, yet endearing, is his time keeping. Having a flexible schedule, I normally see him on a Thursday night at seven 'o' clock. There are some weeks when I need to come another night. Or sometimes things get mixed up.
On any given training day, a barrage of texts will fly between us. They normally go something like this.
Pedro: See you at six
Me: Nope. You said seven.
Pedro:You can't come then?
Me: Not unless you want me in a suit and heels.
Pedro: What about Saturday?
Me: Nope. Busy
Pedro: Well, can you come at seven then...
After five years, used to this too. There are times when our sessions will be reorganised across the week until I scream "Seriously, two sessions next week - all too hard!"
I was looking forward to today's session after he reorganised it twice this week. No problems with me as I have time being in between contracts. I also went and did a five kilometre run this morning. A sense of foreboding taking me over, there was something saying that this training session might not take place.
Sure enough, I turned up at the gym at five. I was greeted at the door by Pinochet - looking sheepish.
"I've messed up. I got things mixed up," he told me.
"You don't want to train me?"
"I want to train you, just I booked in four, not three people."
"Ah, one too many."
"And you're between jobs."
"And I've been for a run this morning. No drama. You're on holidays for ten days - see you when you get back."
"Thanks for this."
"Oh, and Pand. Can you go get me some dinner?"
This is another thing you get if you're a long standing client who has a kid brother for a trainer.
"Okay, what do you want?"
The list and some money was handed over. I wasn't training. No skin off my nose to drop into the supermarket next door - had to go there anyway and pick up a few things. Ten minutes later I returned with a chicken breast, some ricotta, a heap of vegetables - and feeling benevolent, a nice fresh bread roll from the bakery.
Returning to the gym, the groceries were handed over.
"There you go. Dinner."
"Now, go have a lovely cruise. See you in ten days. I promise to train. With this time off I'd like to shed a few kilos by the time you get back."
"Oh, and bring me something back - but not crabs or herpes or the clap."
"Of course not."
"And don't do drugs."
"And don't drink too much."
"Would I do that."
"And don't carry parcels through borders for people."
"And make sure you wear a condom if you find yourself in compromising positions - and that means not putting them over your head and blowing them up through your nose breath."
"Do you think I'm twelve?" he moaned, "I'm thirty-four."
I gave him a kiss on the cheek and made my way towards the reception desk. He called after me.
"You know, Jay and Chrissy and Anna and Min and Kitt said exactly the same thing to me."
Who'd have known...
I hope he has a great time. Just heaven help the South Pacific.