My dear childhood friend was the one who introduced me to the health and fitness industry. As an athlete growing up, it seemed like a natural fit for me, until I went to my first interview. “Flex for me.” WTH??!! These were the first instructions I received from my potential employer. My thoughts, “Hmm… Flex huh?!!! Crap. Okay, here it goes.This is going to be, SO, embarrassing.” So, here I am flexing my tiny little chicken arms for this meat head looking guy I literally just met. Damn. Intro to fitness industry: this SUCKS.
I dubbed myself “the wimpy trainer” very early in my fitness career. At 5’6.5” (yes, that half inch counts) I am about 125lbs and built more like a yogi, or 14 year boy, than the typical female trainer. The fitness industry can be intimidating for anyone at times, but when you’re a trainer that relies on your body to be the crowning piece in your marketing efforts, it can really make you feel self conscious. If you’ve ever struggled with body image, I hope some of the things I’ve learned on my journey can help shed some light on what really matters about this whole health and fitness thing.
Comparison will steal your joy. My friend who got me on this career path is the picture perfect trainer. She has beautiful shapely legs, a tiny waist, a year round tan, and looks like she can do a hundred pull-ups (which she can). When I started training with her at the same studio, I couldn’t imagine why ANYONE would want to work with me when they could work with her. I quickly realized, however, that a lot of women were intimidated by her. She’s as sweet as can be, but not everyone can attain her physique, or if they could, just didn’t see that as their end game. I was surprised to find that my clients were perfectly happy with their slight, wimpy-ish trainer. Comparing myself to her, or anyone else for that matter, was only a source of jealousy and frustration. I’m on my path, it is no better or worse, but it cannot be compared with anyone else’s.
Make peace with your body. In my experience with training mostly women for the last six years, the ones that look like they walked out of the pages of a magazine are just as quick to point out their flaws as anyone else. The hips that are too wide, thighs that are too big, and the list goes on. Your body was made perfectly for you. Making peace with it doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to improve, it just means accepting where you are today, big butt included. Turn your attention towards gratitude and start to feel the peace that comes from appreciating your body and all its gifts versus criticizing it. We are all doing the best we can every day with what we have.I find that when I focus on my faults, I’m no longer able to be of service to others. I accept myself and therefore can accept others.
“You’re never too old, never too late, never too sick, to start from scratch once again.” –Bikram Choudhury
As long as we have these bodies we’re in, we can always start over and make the decision to take better care of this “one house” we take with us everywhere. Here’s the catch though on this whole self improvement mission; you can only be the best version of YOU. Yes, if I REALLY wanted to, I could train and eat differently so I would have a more muscular physique. I could decide that fitting the image of the strong female trainer was worth making some changes… OR, I could continue to eat in a way that fuels my body and relieves me of craving junk. I could continue to love my bootcamp workouts and yoga sessions. I could decide that regardless of what the outside world tells me about my body, I’m the best judge of what make me feel most comfortable in my skin. I COULD even trust that there is more to what I do, and offer as a person, than what I look like.