Scrutinizing eyes dragging up and down my body taking in every curve AND flaw This is what would sometimes happen in a social setting after being asked by a stranger what do I do for a living.
I’m a Personal Trainer I state with a smile.
Then follows the look: checking me out perhaps deciding for themselves in that moment if I am acceptable according to their internal standards of what a fitness trainer should look like. Ideals that they’ve picked up from a fitness magazine perhaps or an advertisement, maybe something they heard based off conversations they’ve been having for years with the same people in the same circles. Or maybe that’s the story I made up in my head. But I do realize this reaction - that look, is mostly unconscious. I understand. We all do it somewhere in our lives at different times: make judgments based on the information we have in front of us without knowing the whole story behind closed doors.
Then the questions begin :
Do you have 6 pack abs? Can I touch ? Can you flex your biceps for me ? Oh wow you are a trainer AND eat dessert ( glancing at the contents in my hand). How do I get rid of this ? ( then the self- squeezing begins and pointing at specific body parts). The focus shifts from me to them which is such a relief in that moment because I can now let go of sucking in my stomach for a break. Keep in mind I am not blaming anybody or shaming anyone for having done this. I’m sure I have done it to someone else in some other way. I bring this up because I am reflecting, because I teach about self-awareness and because I want to be better myself.
When I was younger I accepted this as part of the gig. People were fascinated by what I did and how I did it. I always saw it as a great opportunity to talk about fitness with someone who was curious and seeking out answers for themselves. It was fine because I always appreciated this appropriate opening to discuss philosophy, mindset and of course my favorite - personal development.
But over the years it wasn’t fine anymore.
As Lindsay Kite Explains in her Ted talk “ your body is an instrument, not an ornament”!
My personal instrument is meant to move through the world in service, in a loving way.
But it wasn’t always so loving.
In fact, I was punishing myself along the way: -🪕 to fit in, to be the ideal according to society.
🪕hard workouts which led to injuries. 🪕layoffs and the phobia of getting fat #fatphobia 🪕cycling diets, restricting, depleting and the worst culprit: eliminating the joy from food. 🪕exhausting mental checklists of what to do and what not to do. 🪕constantly planning meals, ingredients, shopping lists, tupperware and timing of food intake oh and don’t forget the fork when on the road !!! 🪕 feelings of inadequacy because my body was filling out my clothes differently at different times of the month. 🪕hormonal fluctuations and the negative impact on my organs from ALL the stress of trying to be ‘fit’ and stay fit just so that at the next party when I was asked the inevitable question, then my answer could be aligned because I have the body to match?
⏳ WAIT A MINUTE!!! But I don’t even expect that of my clients - to have 6 pack abs and a desperately low body fat percentage. When I did have that (once), it was simply not sustainable in a healthy way! I want my clients to be happy and feel authentically satisfied with their lives, their choices and themselves, so why shouldn’t I want the same for myself? ⏳ WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE!!! I got into this vocation to help myself and others to improve our body image, not to acquire body image issues.
Luckily my long- time client base understand my services and philosophies as a holistic personal trainer. ( BIG shoutout to all my clients past, present and future who have shared their journey with me. What an absolute honor )
So the next time I’m at the party and someone asks me what I do, I will answer: “ I am a personal trainer, AND oh yah I am so much more than just my body, and so are you. Can you pass the dessert please.”
Written with love and the purest intentions ~ Yvette
Check out Lindsay’s Ted Talk here.