All Over the Upper Valley, Fitness Trainers Will Be Sweating (Hard!) on Saturday

Kristin Knutzen works out under Jon Dame's watchful eye

It seems absurdly early on a Monday morning for this.

It's just past 7, and Kristin Knutzen is embarking on a workout list reeled off by her trainer: 100 lunges, 75 jumping jacks, 50 wall-balls, 25 assisted chinups at half her body weight, 50 pushups, 75 ab exercises, 100 squats.

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And that's just the warmup.

"I'm trying to tire her out before we go do the strength stuff," Jon Dame, the trainer in question, says matter-of-factly. Week in and week out, this is what they do: Jon makes Kristin work really hard. Matter-of-factly.

Which is one reason why, this coming Saturday, Kristin's got her own plans for Jon. It'll be Train Your Trainer at several gyms around the Upper Valley, a fundraiser for the Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. So Kristin and a bunch of Jon's other clients will meet up at Dartmouth's Zimmerman Fitness Center, where Jon's a trainer. They'll start out with an hour's "boot camp" workout that Jon's designed. Then they'll turn the tables.

Anne Silas, who trains with Jon Dame, will be there on Saturday egging him on.

In particular, for $5 a minute, they'll make Jon do stuff. "I know I want to give him some kind of cardio [workout], because we often commiserate we don’t do enough of that," Kristin says. She's a researcher at The Dartmouth Institute, and plays rugby. She's thinking a combination of burpees -- a particularly energetic squat-thrust -- and sprints on a rowing machine. 

Train Your Trainer has been around for five years, ever since Wayne Burwell, of Wayne's World in Lebanon, got it started. For most of those years, Wayne and Jon have been its mainstays. People have asked them to lift weights quickly, or do burpees with weight, or do burpee-pullups (burpees seem to figure prominently in trainees' dreams), or crabwalk with weights, or do some inhuman number of "thrusters" (a front squat into an overhead press) or... well, people do sometimes get carried away. 

Wayne Burwell and Jon Dame get ready for Train Your Trainer.

Though not always diabolically. Anne Silas, a Dartmouth-Hitchcock radiologist, once asked Wayne to dance disco. She now trains with Jon so will be at Zimmerman on Saturday, but is sponsoring them both--though she hasn't yet figured out what she wants them to do. "I reserve the right to be creative," she says.

One year, someone sponsored Wayne and Darrin Clement, who runs a small gym in Thetford and is strength coach at Thetford Academy, to dead-lift 150% of their bodyweight as many times as possible in two minutes. They weigh almost the same, so they put the weight on the bar, and Darrin went first. "The clock starts, I go two minutes, and however many I got I was really proud of. I was like, 'Yeah! That was pretty good!'" he recalls. "So I step away and Wayne goes. The bastard literally doubled my reps. I was humiliated and awestruck at the same time."

Darrin Clement on his way to being out-lifted by Wayne Burwell.

The people who are signing up often do so not to get back, but to support a trainer they've developed a fitness partnership with. "Jon's always been open to my suggestions," says Anne Silas. "He’s ruminated on it, had suggestions to improve it, and gone along for the ride -- and that has helped keep things fresh, friendly, and keep me engaged."

As for the trainers themselves, they somehow keep showing up to spend a day working themselves to exhaustion. Darrin Clement, who'll be bringing members of his Lean Lifters club to Zimmerman on Saturday, puts it this way: "My mom has had cancer, and I’m doing this in her honor. But my motivation is that it’s really fun."

Gyms participating in Train Your Trainer 2019:

Wayne's World
Dartmouth College
Form Fit Function
DNA
Strong House Spa
River Valley Club
KDR
CCBA
Lean Lifters
REP Fitness

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