“GET down and give me 50 press ups. Faster. Faster. Come on, I want to see you cry like a baby.”

I wake up in a cold sweat. Surely working with a personal trainer couldn’t be that bad?

I managed to grind out two press-ups with more grunting than the ladies’ final on centre court at Wimbledon.

My husband thinks the idea of me working with personal trainer Sara Perry is nothing short of hilarious. He bet that I wouldn’t last 20 minutes without reverting to adolescence, throwing a massive strop and refusing to do anything more. However, when Sara actually turned up, she seemed, you know, normal. Nothing like the evil slave-driver of my nightmares. She doesn't even shout.

I’m signed up for a mix of resistance training and high intensity interval training. I didn’t like the sound of high intensity – it sounded like it might be hard work, and as for resistance training, I didn’t have a clue.

I started out with some resistance training in the park. It turns out that it involves weight training, or even just using your own body weight. Dumbbells don’t grow on trees, at least not in my park, so we started off with a range of exercises that used my own body weight and I’ve got enough of it to go round.

Grinding out another Lady Push-UpAnother Lady Push-UpI managed to grind out two press-ups with more grunting than the ladies’ final on centre court at Wimbledon. After seeing this rather pathetic attempt, Sara suggested I do ‘lady press-ups’ on my knees as part of our routine. I gladly complied.

Walking round with a clipboard, my ability or otherwise to do a range of exercises was scrutinised. My squats weren’t great (too much rolling on the heel apparently) but my glute activations (hunkering down on all fours while slowly raising one leg at a time straight out behind and then cracking an imaginary brazil nut between the cheeks) were passable, but my plank was a revelation. At least in my humble opinion. I managed to maintain it for 30 whole seconds. I was shaking, with a mad thousand yard stare, but my competitive side kicked in and failure was not an option.

Grimacing - Not Smiling      Grimacing - Not SmilingI coursed through the circuit a few times before moving on to the high intensity interval training which consisted of running on the spot, resting, star jumps, then another rest. And repeat indefinitely. Or so it seemed. Actually, this wasn’t too bad and Sara even thought she saw me smiling at one point.

I didn’t want to let on that it was more of a grimace of grim determination. It’s like with babies, proud parents want to believe their progeny is smiling up at them, when in fact it’s just wind.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with myself. There was a definite sense of achievement, mixed with a sense of relief that it wasn't as bad as I had feared. ‘No problem,’ I thought breezily.

That was Wednesday. The next day, I repeated the same exercises for ‘homework’ but at the pace of a geriatric snail. It took me so long to get down for each squat, I was practically motionless. Glaciers have moved more quickly. If I’d done the squats outside M&S in town, all garbed in white and covered in face paint, I’d have made a killing as one of those dodgy street entertainer types.

Even going to the toilet became fraught with problems. As soon as I even started to think about having a drink, I needed to set off for the bathroom because the journey took so long. The stairs were bad enough, but sitting down on the marble throne was nigh impossible. I had to slowly, slowly winch myself into position, holding on to the bath for support like an advert for Stannah stairlifts in a Sunday supplement.

Surely this pain in muscles I didn’t even know I had means something must be working? Please.

Look out for the concluding part to Jo's personal training experience, including before and after pictures in the coming weeks.

Sara Perry is 'the thinking woman’s personal trainer' and is passionate about helping women over 40 to improve their fitness, health & happiness.

For more information visit www.renaissance4women.com or email info@renaissance4women.com