Don’t Give Up – Train Harder


by Sandi Rennie

So, I had intentions to write about goal setting this month – how important it is to set goals and work hard towards them to yield the results you’re looking for. I still plan to write about that in future, but after my own personal training session a couple of weeks, I feel compelled to write about THAT particular experience. Why? Well, as a trainer I’m often told by clients that they think working out and training is easy for me. Oh, if only that were the case. Actually – scratch that. I don’t want things to be easy for me. You know why? Because nothing worth having in life comes easy. We all know that we appreciate the things we have to work for much more than the things we don’t. That’s true in so many areas of our lives, and I think it’s particularly true in working towards our health and fitness goals. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be a little cool with the God of Perfect Bodies waving his/her magic wand and blessing me with thinner thighs or a perkier butt overnight…but, I can tell you for certain that I’ll appreciate it much more when those things come to me through hard work and dedication.

I recently purchased a shirt that reads “Don’t Give Up. Train Harder”. The words are written backwards so that when I look in the mirror they’re reflected back to me forwards. I wore that shirt to my training session a couple of weeks ago – mainly because I’d already been given a head’s up as to what I’d be doing and I figured I’d need some extra motivation. I arrived already feeling a little nervous about the workout because I knew it was going to be super tough. I’m not usually afraid of a challenge, but for reasons I wasn’t really sure of at the time, I was a little scared of what was in store.


We started our session with kettlebell exercises I’d already done a dozen times, and at this point I was feeling pretty good. Then, it was time to get started on “Chrissy”. The Chrissy Workout starts with 30 burpies (with a push-up and knee tuck jump thrown in – because, I don’t know, regular burpies aren’t already bad enough?) which are immediately followed by 20 kettlebell swings. As the workout continues, the burpies go down by 5 and the swings go up by 5 until you’ve reached 5 and 45, respectively. Do the math people – that’s a helluva lot of burpies and swings. “No rest! As fast as you can!” says my trainer. “Time starts…..NOW!” (Yep, on top of this killer workout, I’m being timed – talk about pressure).

I start. Five burpies in, I stop. What the….???? Who the hell is this girl, stopping after five measly little burpies?? I’m tougher than that! I mean, look at my shirt! What the hell am I doing giving up already? At this point I’m on my hands and knees on the floor, THIS close to crying. My head is telling me I won’t get through this and my body is listening. My trainer asks me what’s wrong, showing great concern, but refusing to stop the clock What’s wrong? What’s wrong? “I can’t do it,” I say. “Yes, you can,” he says. “I know you can.” Ahhhh – my trainer. Such confidence in me that guy has. Good thing someone’s got it today, because I don’t.

I start again. Same thing – a few burpies in and I stop. At this point I know it’s a mental block I’m having. I’m not usually one for making excuses, but I’d had a pretty emotionally exhausting week up until this point, and then to find myself in a situation where I felt like I was going to fail….well, it was very overwhelming to me. Again, I’m on the floor, head in my hands holding back the tears. All I wanted was to hear my trainer say “Okay, Sandi – that’s it. You’re done. You don’t have to.” I should’ve known better. He’s never let me quit before – why should he start now? He knows what I am capable of and never let’s me cheat myself – and for that I am so appreciative of him. So, after one of his encouraging pep talks, I’m ready to go again. I get through the rest of the first 30 burpies, then start on the swings. Apparently, the swings are meant to be my “rest”. Yeah, okay – whatever. They’re hard, too. Back to the burpies. Again, I hit that mental block. Difference this time is that I’m not near tears – I’m angry. Angry with myself for wanting to quit. Angry with myself for not being able to control my emotions. Hell, I’m even angry with myself being angry. In frustration, I stop again and kick a weightstack. I know, I know – real cool of me, huh? I’m not usually this person – I don’t normally get this frustrated. But this workout is bringing out the worst in me – in more ways than one.

I get back to it, ignoring the pain in my toe (and by the way, I broke that toe – OUCH!). I’m determined to get through this. More burpies, more swings. My quads burn, my back hurts, my ego is taking a severe beating. As my trainer continues to cheer me on, I push myself beyond the mental and emotional breakdown I’m having and just focus on finishing. I know I’ll hate myself if I give up. I know I’ll disappoint myself – not to mention my trainer – and I’m not in the mood to disappoint anyone today. So, I keep going. 19 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock and I am done!! Woot!! Woot!! I hit the floor, drenched in sweat, totally spent, barely breathing, on the verge of tears again….but so happy. I did it! I didn’t think I could, but I did! And the best part? Completing that workout released all the emotional heaviness I’d been feeling all week. There’s nothing quite like a killer workout to relieve some stress!

I’ve said it already – nothing in life worth having comes easy. When it comes to working out, pushing yourself beyond the limits is not only something you should do from time to time, but it’s something you NEED to do. Challenging yourself is vital. Without a challenge, we get complacent in our workouts. And when we get complacent, guess what happens? Nothing. That’s right, nothing. You don’t get stronger. You don’t get faster. You don’t improve. Challenging yourself reminds you of what you are capable of – and chances are, you are capable of far more than you think. Thomas Edison once said “If we did all the things we were capable of, we would astound ourselves”. So very true.

“But, what if I try and fail?” you ask. Who cares? Failure is acceptable. Everyone fails at something. Not trying at all, however? THAT’S unacceptable. So, find your own challenge. Do what you think you can’t. Astound yourself. And when you’ve accomplished that, find another challenge. Never, ever stop challenging yourself.

So, what’s MY next challenge? The “Angie” workout – 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 squats, 100 full sit-ups. And yes, The Chrissy Workout again in a few weeks – just to see if I can beat my time. Knowing that I can do it now, I intend to waste a lot less time whining about it and more time actually getting it done. I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

And oh, if you were wondering, the record for Chrissy is something like 8 minutes, 22 seconds – but I’m pretty sure that guy was a robot!

Sandi Rennie was born and raised in Goose Bay, Labrador but now considers Halifax her home. She has been a certified personal trainer at the Clayton Park Women’s Only Nubody’s since February ‘09. In addition to working with clients one-on-one, Sandi runs Boot Camp twice a week as well as a 6-week weightloss challenge called “The Weighting Game”. She has developed a reputation for being a “tough” trainer and has been nicknamed ”Jillian” (as in Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser) by many of her clients. One client in particular told her that a training session with her is “like a bad date that never ends”. Sandi actually considered that to be a compliment! If you’d like to train with Sandi, join her Boot Camp or Weighting Game, have an idea for a post, or just want to say hello, email her at


  1. As usual, i love your post. You described exactly how i was feeling yesterday, but you pushed me through it. Thank you. I hurt today though. You are a very talented writer Sandi and am amazing trainer 🙂

  2. Andrea Hutchinson

    Great Article….very inspiring!

  3. Sandi,

    I LOVE IT! I’m suppose to be doing a 500 word essay right for tomorrow morning, but I had to read this. So worth it. It just got me super pumped to hit the gym even harder tomorrow. Thanks!

    The bottom-line is you are the best of the best! Keep going girl.

  4. Thanks, ladies!

    Caity – when you hurt, I know I’m doing my job right! Suck it up, Buttercup and see you Monday!

    Andrea – YOU are my inspiration….in so many ways.

    Lauren – can’t wait to see you rock that bod on stage in April. My pompoms are almost ready and I’m practicing my whistle!

  5. I knew you were an amazing trainer but you are also an amazing writer. You did an amazing job of capturing the thoughts during a tough workout – fear, anger, determination.
    The Angie workout scares me to death and Im not even doing it! I remember you pushing me to do one pull up my first few weeks of training – just one meazly pull up! But I know youll be able to do it 🙂 and you will still have the energy to yell at me during our session.
    Im glad youll be guiding me during my running training, I feel comforted by that thought!

    ps. I want that shirt!!


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