Read an excerpt Tuesday

Working It is a story that grew out of my experience with a personal trainer. Just like Jamie, I hated every minute of it. I whined and complained for months before I – sort of – started to enjoy myself. The gym I describe is the gym I worked out in, the city, of course, is Vancouver – but my trainer was about 20 years younger than me and so not my type. Not like Michael Whitfield. He’s one of my favorite heroes. He’s tough and smart and he doesn’t take any guff from Jamie – who’s pretty tough herself.

“No. Absolutely not. I’ll even do the spring fashion layout, and you know how much I hate models. Anything. Just not this story.” Jamie’s perfectly balanced blood pressure spiked. If she could see her heart, she knew it’d be black and blue from pounding against her rib cage. “Please, Frank, don’t make me do it.”

Her editor laughed, his bald head catching the sun and blinding Jamie for a crucial moment. When she blinked the glare from her eyes, her name was already printed in black on the storyboard for the March issue, and nothing changed the board. Not ever. Her name and her assignment would morph from black to green to red as the deadline loomed, but Frank never took anything off the board.

”Jamie, you’re the right person for this story. Everyone’s heard you complain about healthy food and you just admitted you hate models. But the one thing you complain about more than anything else is exercise. You’ve written columns about it, you blog about it at least once a month, and no one’s ever seen you walk more than across the street. You get more parking tickets than anyone else in the city. I know that because the police commissioner told me, so you obviously don’t do much walking. Well, exercise is big news, and you’re going to explore a part of it for us.”

”But, but…” No other words managed to escape Jamie’s mouth.

Frank chuckled again. ”But me no buts. It’s your story. Find a personal trainer and spend the next six months getting fit.” His face brightened. ”I mean, just look at you. If you can do it, anyone can.”

Jamie imagined the before pictures, because there was no way to write the story without them. Frank was big on visuals. Okay, so she might be a tiny bit overweight, but men liked that, didn’t they? And where in hell was she going to find a personal trainer? She couldn’t bear the thought of going to a gym. And any personal trainer she did find would drive her crazy.

She bowed to the inevitable and nodded her head in defeat.

After the aggravating meeting with Frank, Jamie’s living room couch beckoned but she resisted. If she went home now, she knew exactly what would happen. She’d cuddle up with her favorite things: hours of mindless television, microwave popcorn, a pizza, and a glass or two of red wine.

Instead, journalist to the core, Jamie set about finding a personal trainer. She Googled “personal trainers, Vancouver” and ended up with a list of three hundred and twenty-seven entries. No surprise, but impossible to weed through. She tried ”associations, personal trainers” but nothing came up.

And right there was a possible hook for her story. Trainers obviously weren’t regulated and that meant there were sure to be some bad apples. She highlighted that idea in her notes.

In the end, she made the phone call she’d been avoiding. ”Hey, Cheerio. What’s up? Got a minute?”

Didn’t matter if Jamie was looking for food or wine or travel or scandal, her best friend Cheerio knew, or knew how to find, every single thing in the city. Cheerio was the most connected person in town.

If you’re interested in reading more, check it out at http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/workingit.htm

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