New Beginnings by;
Darren Alexander
Kalaman, B.A. Hons. (Regina), M.A. (Carleton)
December, 2004


My name is Darren Alexander Kalaman.  I am 25 years old, and currently live in Regina, Saskatchewan CANADA.  From September 2002 to November 2004, I had the pleasure of hiring Lydia Kokline as my personal trainer.  This piece of writing will inform you (the reader) of my relationship with Lydia over the past two years.  She was one of the most inspiring women I have ever worked with.  I hope many of you will be inspired by what I am writing, and will consider hiring Lydia Kokline as your personal trainer and fitness consultant.

Every story needs a 'beginning."  My beginning will be a brief background about myself.  I consider myself an accomplished musician and academic.  From a musical standpoint, I play organ, piano, pipe organ, and sing.  I competed in the Regina Music Festival for 10 years and received 19 first place finishes, 10 second place finishes, and 9 scholarships.  From an academic standpoint, I recently obtained my Master of Arts degree (psychology) from Carleton University in Ottawa.  I received scholarship support from both Science and Engineering Research Canada and Carleton University in the amount of $62,600.  My thesis supervisor, Dr. Jo-Anne LeFevre, was an inspirational mentor and world expert in the field of mathematical cognition. 

My life has been a rollercoaster of emotions.  I am a victim and survivor of school abuse (physical, mental, and sexual).  I was never an "athletic" person.  In high school, I was a "quiet guy" around my peers.  The mental agony of this school abuse can only be described in the following way.  Record the following negative words (geek, nerd, loser, fag, lice bucket, freak) into a tape recorder and play them continuously in your living space for 24 hours.  The mental pain I suffered almost drove me to killing myself in January of 1997.  But, with the support of my family and limited friends, I triumphed and received numerous scholarships to complete a Bachelor degree at the University of Regina.  In May 2002, I received my Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in psychology, and received the S.E. Stewart Award for being the most distinguished graduate in the Faculty of Arts.

A "new beginning' for me was when I started paying attention to living a healthy lifestyle.  In May 2000, I started walking everywhere.  And let me tell you, walking is a great form of exercise.  You can sure relieve a great deal of stress in going for a brisk walk on a regular basis.  In July 2000, I started power walking (i.e., walking with long strides at a quick pace) and lifting weights.  On January 2001, I stopped drinking any carbonated drinks (e.g., Pepsi, Coca-Cola).  In May 2002, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself physically.  I thought a good way to do this would be through natural (drug free) bodybuilding.  I knew I was moving to Ottawa, so I did a search on the internet for Ontario bodybuilders.  That is when I first discovered the name "Lydia Kokline."  I wanted Lydia as my personal trainer because in reading her website, she appeared to be the type of trainer I was looking for (a bodybuilder, a natural drug free trainer, a motivating trainer).  I e-mailed Lydia in the summer of 2002, and met her for the first time in September 2002.

When I first met Lydia, I was shocked by how physically fit this woman was.  My first impression of her was, "I don't want to piss this woman off in any way or I'm burnt toast."  Actually, my first impression of her was, "WOW."  From the first day I met Lydia, I can tell you all that she is VERY VERY PUNCTUAL.  Lydia is never late, and if anything, she makes an attempt to be 10 to 15 minutes early to a training session.  For the first 5 sessions with Lydia, she placed me on her "basic training programme."  She taught me how to properly execute a variety of exercises (using free weights and machines), and stretches.  She also provided me with information on healthy eating (a duo-tang of information on vitamins, minerals, and a presentation on the value of anti-oxidants in the diet).  Finally, she prepared a variety of meal plans for me to aid me with my regular fitness training.    

After the completion of Lydia's basic training sessions, I hired her to train me regularly (every Saturday) at the Carleton University fitness center.  Every training session with Lydia was excellent.  She made sure that my safety came first when lifting weights.  In February 2003, Lydia placed me on her intermediate training programme.  When Lydia explains how to perform a weight training exercise, she makes sure that you use proper form.  Many of her common phrases in training regarding exercise form are as follows:  keep your back straight, give a slight bend to your knees and elbows, keep a neutral wrist.

My primary method of keeping in contact with Lydia was through e-mail.  I could have called her on the phone anytime, but I chose to e-mail her regularly.  Lydia was always prompt in responding to her e-mails.  It usually never took any longer than 48 hours to hear a reply from her through e-mail.  Many of her e-mail responses came within 24 hours of writing the original e-mail.  In each of Lydia's e-mails, she always was positive in her replies.  In the two years I trained with her, I had some "down moments" (e.g., sick, friends passed away).  Lydia always said or wrote the right things to cheer me up (e.g., hang in there, keep a healthy and positive outlook).

In October 2003, Lydia and I took a trip to Kingston to view a bodybuildling show.  This was a great experience for me as I got to see "bodybuilding" live.  Lydia was screaming numbers out, and saying things like "widen your back, keep tight, you're #1".  After a year of training with Lydia and attending this bodybuilding competition, I realized that I had a LONG WAY to go in order to compete on "the stage."  After viewing the bodybuilders on stage, I knew that I would need more PASSION towards this sport in order to ever make it on a bodybuilding stage. 

In January 2004, Lydia realized that something was wrong with me.  She sent me an e-mail which in short told me that I needed to WALK THE TALK.  It was evident that I was not making any significant progress towards reaching a bodybuilding stage.  I would say to her that I wanted to be a bodybuilder, but I was certainly not becoming one.  I finally told Lydia that I was dealing with an issue which had not been resolved when I moved to Ottawa.  I told her that I was a gay male.  For those of you reading this that are judgmental about gay people, all I can say is to throw those judgments out the door.  Living a gay lifestyle is a challenge and I was "in the closet" to so many people for a very long period of time.  I was scared to tell Lydia about my sexuality out of fear that she might have ceased training me.  Well, that didn't happen.  And I think our relationship as a trainer and student got stronger because of my revelation to her.  She continued to train me.  Even though my sexual life is still out of balance, I am proud to say that I am totally comfortable with being a gay male.   

Lydia was more than a personal trainer to me.  She became a friend.  She sent me birthday cards, Christmas cards, and Easter cards.  She also bought me small gifts for special occasions (for my 24th birthday I got WEIGHT TRAINING STRAPS from her which I finally figured out how to use after multiple training sessions).  Oh yes, and from the very first minute I met Lydia, she impressed me with her WALLET SIZED CALENDARS.  They are terrific. 

In February 2004, Lydia told me that she was going to compete again in a bodybuilding competition.  She had her mind set for October 2004 in Kingston (in the same place that she competed for the first time many years ago).  This was also the same place (Regina Rosen Auditorium) we went to view a bodybuilding competition in October 2003.  In March 2004, Lydia and I attended a town hall meeting on bodybuilding at the Fitness Center in the Rideau Center.  Once again, I saw some amazing bodies.  And I knew that my passion for wanting to be a bodybuilder was just not there.  Let me tell you all that it is very difficult to be a gay male, be a full-time graduate student, and be a bodybuilder.  Is it possible to manage all three?  Absolutely.  But, I just didn't have the mental focus to juggle all the balls in the air.  By the end of March 2004, Lydia and I met one another less frequently because I had made the decision that I was not ready to be a bodybuilder, yet. 

In May 2004, Lydia and I attended a bodybuilding competition at Ottawa University.  And once again, I was impressed with the physiques on stage.  What amazing bodies, and what amazing posing.  Lydia was in "high gear" with her training and it showed.  I knew from seeing Lydia that nothing was going to stop her.  And as you will soon find out, nothing did stop her. 

In July 2004, I became depressed.  I was depressed with a variety of things (e.g., being single, lack of motivation to finish my Master of Arts thesis, running out of scholarship money).  I didn't want to continue seeing Lydia and sent her an e-mail stating my feelings.  She replied back to me and told me that I needed to get back on my feet and that she would be there for me if I needed her.  So, I asked her to provide me with some counseling in late July.  She agreed.  We talked for an hour about my problems and that talk made all the difference.  And I must say, Lydia was looking fantastic in terms of her physique.    

In September 2004, we met again for a counseling session at a restaurant in the South Keys area of Ottawa.  Everyone in the restaurant stared at her as she sat down.  They, like me, were totally impressed with her figure.  Absolutely amazing.  Lydia had undergone so much physical change in the two months that I had last seen her.  Her dedication towards eating according to her fitness goals was seen when she made sure that she had EGG WHITES with NO OIL.  The date we met was on Saturday, September 18, 2004.  This was the day after I had successfully defended my Master of Arts thesis.  Lydia bought me a small gift (magnetic earrings).  I had a smile on my face that day.  Lydia always knows what to say and how to say things.  When you speak to her, she is willing to listen and to understand your situation.  She cares for you as the person you are and will try her best to make your life even better by sharing her wisdom in fitness training.

On Saturday, October 16, 2004, Lydia struck gold twice as she won two classes in the Kingston bodybuilding competition.  She looked awesome.  What an amazing and incredible physique.  Her stage number was #1.  HOW FITTING.  I kept screaming out her number in the crowd "#1 great abs, #1 you're #1, #1 you look great."  Seeing Lydia on stage made me think to myself that I have to be a bodybuilder.  Why?  Because I have the physique, and I do have mental focus.  Lydia always told me in the 2 years that I trained with her that I can be a bodybuilder.  And after seeing her on stage, I wanted to do what she was doing (POSING THOSE INCREDIBLY AMAZING LEAN MUSCLES).  I did have the opportunity to go on that stage for an "audience pose down."  Even though I had very little muscles to show, the master of ceremonies did comment on my FABIO look because I have long hair.  Lydia is a fan of Harry Potter movies, and I gave her a Harry Potter calendar as a gift for winning her classes.

At the end of October 2004, I received exciting news that I had been accepted to teach psychology courses at the University of Regina starting in January 2005.  In addition to receiving this exciting news, I was also sad that I would be leaving Lydia.  Lydia and I met for two more training sessions in November 2004 to review both the basic and intermediate exercises that I had learned from her.  On Sunday, November 14, 2004, Lydia attended my graduation ceremony at Carleton University.  She was there to CHEER ME ON as I crossed the stage and received my Master of Arts degree.  She bought me a pen and pen holder with "Darren Alexander Kalaman - New Beginnings" written on it.  And yes, it is time for a NEW BEGINNING to once again flourish in my life.

My new focus is to compete in Kingston, Ontario, in October 2007.  I know that this is not going to be an easy road.  But, with the support of my family, my friends, and Lydia, I hope to pose my lean muscles in front of a crowd when I'm 28 years old.  I want to thank the fitness administration at Carleton University for allowing Lydia to train me at their facility.

In closing, I highly recommend Lydia Kokline to be YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER.  She is a very loving woman who will do her best to make sure that you reach your fitness goals.  She is patient, prompt, kind, helpful, amazing to look at (for motivation purposes), and an all around good person.  You would not waste a dime in training with Lydia. 

As my trainer, and friend, Lydia, I love you for the person you are! 

For those of you reading this who would like to e-mail me at any time, send me a message to