As I hinted on Squirrel Wednesday, I have finally caved and joined a gym again. I joined one a few years ago and then quit the germ factory after I became ill enough to require doctor visits four times in six months. But now, with the new job and shortening daylight hours, I have reluctantly admitted that I can’t stay in shape without joining a gym (also, employer pays for most of it). Part of my membership deal entitles me to two “free” sessions with a personal trainer, the first of which was yesterday morning. I flatter myself that I’m in pretty decent shape–after all, I can run 13 miles and do more than 20 push-ups at a time–but I don’t think I have had quite this level or distribution of muscle soreness before. My trainer guy put me through a few paces to see what I could do (aforementioned push-ups, which most women avoid like the plague) and then dragged me through the most punishing hour of strength training I’d ever experienced. And what got me through it? Flattery. Just as I was about to cry uncle (say, on my third set of push-ups done with each hand on a medicine ball, or the second set of dead-lifts done while standing on a wobble-board), he’d lift his eyebrows and say, “Wow, you’re pretty strong!” Of course, I heard the unspoken “…for a girl” in his compliment, but for someone who still pictures herself as the chubby teen of 20 years ago, this was highly motivating praise. So what if raising my arms to get dressed makes me whimper in pain today? I’m still pretty strong (for a girl).