In his workouts he uses sticks and balls and towels, as well as free weights and some machines. He improvises. He judges the client's disposition before deciding what the workout should be. Is the client stressed? Tired? Clear might give him a massage before beginning the workout.
"There are all kinds of trainers mil there who will tell you to do all kinds of things," he says. "There's no regulation at all in this industry. Anyone can be a personal trainer just by saying he's a personal trainer. You have to watch out. I've been involved with physical culture all my life. I'm still learning about this business. I'm learning now, really, how much the mind is part of it."
This is only my third session with Clear. We have met one hour each week. In the interview I told him that I sometimes throw out my back carrying bags through airports. He said we could fix that. Goals? I said that I could use some flexibility, that I had become about as flexible as a steel pole. He said we could fix that. Anything else? I could use an upper body; I have always had the upper body of an 11-year-old boy. No problem.
We spent the second session on the banks of the Charles River in Boston. Rollerbladers, young lovers and small children watched in fear as Clear held one end of a towel and I pulled the other end in a series of exercises. In this third session, at Nautilus, we do exercises on a large inflated rubber ball. Clear rolls through the exercises as if he were a seal in a circus. I do the same exercises as if I were the clown. "I have no balance," I say. "I have no strength. I have no speed. I have limited endurance. Outside of that, I am in wonderful shape."
"You're getting better," Clear says. "You'll get a lot better." The weight machines are old-timers. The blue paint on them is flecked. Some of the benches are cracked. The exposed, greasy chains look as if they were used when Wilbur and Orville started to fly. Clear shows me which machines to use and which machines not to use. He shows me the proper way to work the machines. I pump iron in the sea of steel.
"How often do most people see you?" I ask. "What's the average?"
"Hard to say," Clear says. "I have one guy, I see him for an hour a day, four days a week. He says that's the only way he can work out. Most people, I'd advise to see me once a week after working out a couple of hours each week by themselves."
I think of Ray Kybartas, all those hours with Madonna each week. I think of Tim Grover, all those hours with Jordan. How would I be if I worked out for three hours a day, six days a week? How would any of us be? How would we find that kind of time?
The epicenter is long gone. I am out here in the normal part of the trend: 60 bucks an hour. One day a week. I had my car tuned this week. The labor charge for that was $62.50 per hour. Am I as important to myself as my car?
"Try to give me 15 curls," Clear says.