I live in Los Angeles, which means I have horrible self esteem and body issues. So I decided to sign up for personal training sessions. I was assigned Alyi (yes, she spelled it like a hippie would, or a hip-hop artist) randomly, and she seemed nice enough. A normal, healthy looking girl about my height. I asked for a contact number in case I had to cancel if something came up. She gave me her headshot. This was not a good sign. Alyi was a 22 year old former meth addict who also used to be bulimic. She came to LA to be a dancer, but fell into personal training the same way people fall into bartending – because their first choice career just wasn’t happening. She would often change her career trajectory from filmmaker, to actress, to joining The Army. She didn’t actually pursue any of these paths more than just talking about signing up for classes or browsing the Army’s website. I admitted to her that I thought about liposuction before I decided to spend the money on a personal trainer.

Taking that as a suggestion, she went to a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and got lipo. Some days she would only drink green tea to lose weight quickly and become, I quote, “a total rockstar.” I blame the Roxy and the Whiskey being on her bike path to work (she didn’t own a car).Alyi’s live-in fiancé was an alcoholic and an illegal immigrant from Mexico. The one time I met him, he was plastered and it was only 7pm. He barely spoke a word of English and we communicated mostly through mime. I would have understood her attraction to him if he was handsome and debonair, an exotic lov-ah. But he was shorter than both of us, had no muscles, and looked kind of retarded. What the hell was she getting out of this? Maybe they had drinking in common, since I once had to pick her up from The Abbey because she was too drunk to bike home. She gave me a month of free training for dog-sitting her pitbull over Thanksgiving.

I lived in her tiny studio apartment for a week cleaning up after her dog that peed everywhere but outside. Her fridge’s only contents were vodka. She had no pots or pans. She actually owned the complete box collection of the Look Who’s Talking movies. If you live in Los Angeles, you have no excuse for having a shitty DVD collection. This was inexcusable. One day, she called me and told me I had to meet her at another gym for our session. “Why?” I asked. She admitted she got fired. “For training me illegally under the table?” I wondered. “No.” “Was it because you hit on your boss?” “No, not that either.”

“What about showing up to work drunk, was it that?” Apparently not. She was stealing money from the gym by not reporting unused training sessions. Shrug. She didn’t kill anybody, and I could fit into my skinny jeans again. I’ll keep meeting with her. Alyi had miraculously gotten a job at another gym, but continued to train me discretely since I wasn’t a member and couldn’t legally use their equipment. She would run on the treadmill beside me like we were workout buddies, and she’d whisper “Keep going! Only two more minutes at this speed!” It’s hard to get motivated when you’re constantly looking over both shoulders. When I hit my goal weight, it was time to say goodbye to Alyi. I had lost thirty pounds, but I gained a complete reassurance for my own sanity.

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