Some of you may remember that back in January 2017 I started writing about working out at the gym with a strength coach. Having a personal trainer was way outside my comfort zone, so I referred to my sessions as being in my discomfort zone.

It didn’t take long for my coach, Andy Wight, to make me feel very comfortable pushing beyond what I thought were my limits. I not only got stronger and more confident but working out also often lifted my spirits and my energy level.

Andy Wight former personal trainer for Diane Atwood
Working out with Andy before COVID

We kept a fairly regular schedule and I often wrote about the advice and expertise Andy had to share. Then along came COVID and I stopped going to the gym in March of 2020. About one year and nine months ago. We tried virtual sessions but they weren’t the same and forget about getting into a home routine of my own. The longest that lasted was a week, maybe two.

Martha Williams Gentle Yoga posture
Martha Williams doing a variation of the child’s pose

The only thing I have been able to stick with is my weekly gentle yoga class with Martha Williams. I started with her online class and now attend a weekly in-person, everyone-masked class that I don’t think I could live without. It even helped me heal my broken shoulder last spring.

As wonderful as yoga is, it’s not enough. My body has been begging me to start working out again, but Andy’s not in the business anymore. I know from my experience with him that personal training works for me, so I went in search of a new trainer. I found a great one at my alma mater, St. Joseph’s College.

Meet Samantha (Sam) VanDeMoere, who is studying exercise science with a focus on pre-physical therapy.

My goal is to go to PT school next year and I’m currently in the process of applying. I also really enjoy strength and conditioning. I think I want to get strength and conditioning certified so that I can add that to my resume in PT school.

Samantha VanDeMoere, Student Trainer, St. Joseph’s College

I qualify to work with Sam because I’m a St. Joe’s alum. Her other clients may include students and faculty members. We all benefit, and Jenna Chase, Associate Director of Health & Wellness Programming, says that includes Sam and other working students.

It is a great way for them to have hands-on learning and begin to build their professional portfolio. I always cheer on the students who engage in internships and personal training as they will be one step closer to finding a job in their career path since they will graduate with experience already under their belt!

Jenna Chase, Associate Director of Health & Wellness Programming, St. Joseph’s College

Fortunately for me, along with what she’s learning in school, she had a summer job in a physical therapy clinic and gained experience working one-on-one with older people. We’re a special group, you know!

One of the first things I asked her was what advice she would give someone if they’re trying to get moving after nearly two years of not being motivated.

I would definitely say start slow. You don’t want to start out doing too much because that’s how you get hurt. Start slow and then keep building up. The more you do, the better your mind and your body will feel. It’s getting going that is tough, but once you get there, it gets easier.

Doing squats with an 8-pound weight

I can vouch for that 110 percent. In the first week of working with Sam, some of the exercises were challenging. Didn’t I feel like a wimp! I also know my form was not always great. This week (the third) I feel much more confident and stronger. The other day, I was walking in Portland and realized that my stride was different. It felt more purposeful. Does that make sense?

I also notice that I feel more energetic than I had been lately. And upbeat. I think I may already be meeting some of Sam’s expectations!

I expect you to overall feel better about yourself and I hope that when you finish a workout, you feel more motivated throughout the day as well.

The slow start plan that we came up with includes seeing Sam twice a week, walking twice a week, going to my yoga class once a week, and doing whatever strikes my fancy over the weekend. So far, I find it quite manageable and frankly, inspiring. I am so excited to have some kind of routine again, and who knows where it will lead me.

Doing three sets of eight rows, each arm

Each session starts with a warm-up and ends with a cool-down. One day’s workout focuses on gaining strength and the other on balance. These are two important issues, especially as you age.

What we’re doing now are basic movements to get your form going. For instance, we’re doing double leg and arm movements, but will progress to using single legs and arms. That will help with your stability and your balance overall because you’ll be using your core more with one limb.

Diane and Samantha

I said it once and I’ll say it again. I am so wicked excited to be working out again. Sam will be graduating in May so that doesn’t give me a lot of time, but certainly, enough to experience some good changes and to get back on a lifelong path of staying as strong as I possibly can.

I’ll keep you posted and hope that what I’m trying to do will motivate you if you’re also feeling out of shape. Figure out what works for you — go for a walk with a friend or agree to meet up online to do a workout together. There are so many videos and virtual classes available now. Good luck and let me know what/how you’re doing!