Healthy Living

Drill Sergeants for Free

A few weeks ago, a good friend told me she’d hired a personal trainer to help push her workouts to the next level. “It’s so totally worth it, Maura,” she said. “It’s expensive, but I’m afraid to back down from whatever he has me doing that day. Have you ever used a trainer?”

“Oh sure,” I say. “I have two. They work for free. But they’re more like drill-sergeants. Plus, they’re a lot younger than me. Best workouts I’ve ever had.”

“Mama, I’m HOT!”

“I know, kiddo. Drink your water.”

“There’s no ROOM in here!”

“H, scoot over and make room for O.”

It’s too HOT!”

“My belwy hurts. I fink I ate too many pancakes.”

The stroller comes to a halt. We are exactly three miles from home, and the boys are *this close* to a full-on meltdown. I understand. I’m close to a meltdown myself. It really is hot, and the boys are just slightly too big for this monolith of a running stroller. Still—and if this sounds selfish, so be it—it’s been a week since I’ve squeezed in my last work out. If I don’t get some exercise today, I’ll be tired and cranky. Tired. And. Cranky. Trust me. It’s better for everyone if I finish this.

“H, move over a little. O, sit up, buddy. That will help your belly.”

“I want OUT!”

“ME TOO!!!”

I sigh and take a knee so we’re on eye-level. “Listen, guys, I’ll make you a deal. Let’s keep going. No complaints. And when we get to the park, you can tell me how fast I should run.”

“How fast?”

“Yep. And you can tell me how to run, too—circles, zig-zags—anything you want.”

They look at each other, smiles creeping across their faces. Then they look back at me.

“It’s a deal, Mama.” H says.

“Great. Let’s shake on it.”


The next two miles are peaceful. The boys talk quietly without ever breathing my name. No complaints about the heat. No complaints about the close quarters. When they first see the park, O shouts “Now! Go, Mama!”

Well, it’s earlier than I intended, but since they kept their end of the bargain, so will I. I pick up my pace.

“Is that the best you can do?” H shouts. I go a little faster.

They laugh devilishly. “Fast, Mama, FAST!” O demands.

So I sprint.

“Keep going, Mama! Zig zags!”

I’m sprinting and zagging and they’re laughing uproariously. “Maybe I should slow down?” I gasp.

“NO!” O barks. “Keep going, Mama. Quit your complaining! You can do it.”


Merciless! By the time we finish at the park, I’m a wheezy, winded mess. My face is hot and flushed, and I’m far sweatier than I’d like to admit. It’s like I’ve never run a day in my life.

“You did great, Mama!” H says. “That’s the fastest I think you’ve ever run.”

For the record? I’m happy for my friend. She feels good about her workouts because she has a personal trainer to cheer her on and make sure she’s pushing herself. That’s awesome. But I feel like I’m getting the better deal. For the past 15 minutes, I heard nothing but laughter. Most of it came from my boys, but some of it came from me.

And I didn’t even have to pay for it.

Maura is a full-time managing editor for a global bank. She lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband of 11 years, and has two little boys, 3 and 5 years old. This year, she’s doing 36 things she’s never done, all before her 37th birthday, and she’s blogging about it. Read the latest on 36×37 or stop by the 36×37 facebook page. You can also find Maura on Twitter @36×37.

Karla Urwitz
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8 thoughts on “Drill Sergeants for Free

  1. Too funny! You’re right. They certainly do keep us on our toes. I loved the line about the laughter! Thanks for sharing this!

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  3. Thanks, guys. Some days it just takes creativity, doesn’t it? We do a lot of bartering like this in my house. That’s probably a no-no, but at least I got a workout out of the deal. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!
    Maura´s last blog post ..Other Firsts- Sunset in Paris

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