If, like me, you feel your body isn’t in as good shape as it could be, it might be time to begin working on your fitness – or as Michael Schaller puts it, learning “to move as freely and lightly as possible.” The Berlin-based personal trainer studied sports science at the Technical University of Munich and spent time giving athletic coaching to young basketball talents – experiences which led him to focus on a broad repertoire of movements that anyone can do. For me, the term personal trainer has always seemed a distant concept with “Hollywood” connotations. But as I balance on one leg in a Prenzlauer Berg field trying to dodge Michael’s dangling tennis ball, it becomes clear that this is not about living the Beverly Hills life.
As I begin to move, I realize that my regular cycling practice uses only a fraction of my muscles: it turns out there’s strength in places I didn’t even know existed (hello, sore muscles). The work allows me to (re)learn my body and understand that I still have a long way to go to develop a better “vocabulary” of movements. But that’s no matter, since the training is actually lots of fun! If like me you had clichéd images of personal training in your head, a session with Michael will set you straight. He doesn’t stand over you and drill you until you drop, and there are no endless squats. Instead you are led through a whole range of movements, from “knee-washing” (knee exercises) to a meditative practice that reminds you of Qi Gong and challenges both body and mind. And while there are times when the little control freak in you takes over and makes you want to give up, by the end of the session you feel great satisfaction at what you have achieved. The learning doesn’t stop there though: the idea is to integrate the exercises into your daily routine and develop a personal movement vocabulary that supports you. As Michael puts it, “the urge to move accompanies us throughout our lives – a life without movement does not exist.” Amen!
P.S.: Michael usually holds his sessions in a fitness studio in Mitte, but due to current rules you can train with him outside (with distancing) or via Zoom.
Text: Nina Trippel / Photos: Savannah van der Niet