After joining the Y at the end of June, there is this chart directly across from the standing ab crunch machine, which I would read as I slowly bent forward, concentrating on my core and counting 25 repetitions. After a casual conversation at the last barbecue of the summer, I was talking about some of the personal trainers as well as others who work out in this small room, designed specifically for people who haven't exercised in awhile, or have health concerns, or are recovering from surgery.

My daughter, who was given the gift of one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer, looked surprised and said she knew nothing about her trainer. Her middle son, who plays hockey, was dumbfounded, blurting out, "Grandma, how can you talk if you're really working out?" He's 14. This one is for him.

1-2 Extremely easy. You can carry on a conversation. One trainer was raised Roman Catholic and was a surgical nurse at a hospital that closed. She met and married a Doctor who was Jewish; she converted and had three children with him, but then they divorced. She is now married to a lawyer and has returned to Catholicism.

3 Very easy. You can converse with almost no effort. The same trainer lost her spleen in a car accident, which gave her an alibi when she was asked by the FBI if she was at work when another nurse killed her Doctor boyfriend, sawed him up, put his body parts into several suitcases and dumped them into Chesapeake Bay, where they washed up the next day.

4 Moderately easy. You can converse with a little bit of effort. Almost everyone but me hates the stationary bikes. Since it's the only cardio I can handle, I do it first while others are on treadmills. I can't do the treadmill as the movement triggers vertigo. So, I've worked up to 45 minutes in 4 months. I pass the time on the bike by getting everyone to talk or sing or laugh. Yesterday, I finally made myself go over 9 mph with resistence set at 16.

5 Starting to get challenging. Conversation requires more effort. Another trainer is going through a divorce, wants to lose weight but is always eating. I know all of the medications she is on, as well as her religious beliefs. I have figured out a few ways to get her to laugh uncontrollably, one of which involves her becoming a lounge singer, instead of a restaurant hostess, which tires her out and doesn't pay well.

6-7 Difficult. Conversation requires a lot of effort. There is one 91 year old former socialite, who comes in sporadically, with a great head of white hair, dressed to the nines, wearing make-up and lots of jewelry. She calls herself Princess, although she is not a real one. She married into old money and is widowed. Her motto is "Gotta keep the merchandise moving."

8 Very difficult. Conversation requires maximum effort. A young trim woman was running on the treadmill and having a heated conversation in Spanish on her cell phone, when she lost her footing or her concentration and flew off the treadmill. She left, sobbing, in embarrassment. The married couple who are originally from Sicily, next to me on the bikes just shook their heads. They've been married 64 years and are obviously still in love. They don't like cell phones.

9-10 Full-out effort. No conversation possible. I try to work out between a rate of perceived exertion 6-7 and up, depending on the machine and my mood. As you may have guessed, I just start the conversations with a simple comment or question, then all I have to do is listen. I can count and focus on my form while listening; it's "extremely easy".

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.