For a normal person, fitness is a terrifying word. Hell, just search #fitness on Instagram or TikTok and your eyes will be assaulted by a sea of ass and ab shots of some poor woman hocking Herbalife or selling you the best way to “burn off love handles” who hasn’t seen more than a carrot stick in months. The same goes for #Pilates (we’re just in the splits) and #yoga (skinny bitches on a beach in a backbend).
And before you get on my ass about how all the skinny blonde white women need love too and maybe they’re naturally that skinny and blonde, you’re not wrong, but that really isn’t my point. My point is that when that’s the standard and it’s all your ever exposed to, it can make you feel pretty fucking awful about yourself and believe that fitness…Pilates…yoga…isn’t for you.
I’ve been saying this for years, but I’ll just go ahead and say it one more time, fitness really isn’t about what you look like half naked on Instagram. It’s not about how much weight you can squat, how well you can do the Pilates hundred, or your ability to get into the splits.
Those are all perfectly fine things you can do in the name of fitness. Inherently, there’s nothing bad about any of that (though I’d argue that wanting to be naked on IG is a little weird), but they’re not actually fitness. They’re just arbitrary measures that our silly little human brains fixate on, because it gives us a sense of worthiness in a world where we can feel pretty damn unworthy.
So, let’s back this train up.
Why the fuck should you bother with fitness if it’s not about a gold star in the form squat PRs, “toned” abs, or doing the splits? Furthermore, let’s just say that for some reason that you the person reading this on the other side of the screen has concluded that some of these things will never be in the cards for you, because as hard as you’ve tried or haven’t tried, you’ve never found a life built on carrot sticks, squats, and tears to be very fulfilling.
Can you still fitness? Should you still fitness? I mean, if you aren’t obsessively chasing the elusive “hot” bod, WTF bother with it at all?
I’d say yes, but only if you want to.
I know there’s a lot of noise out there.
Fitness professionals warning you about what will happen if you don’t squat with the right knee alignment (Your knees WILL explode. Duh!). Women in booty shorts giving you exercises to tone your butt on social media. Fitness academics in their ivory towers spouting off statistics about how if you don’t perform enough activity that your muscles will atrophy and you’ll drop dead of a heart attack or be frail, sad, and useless when you’re old.
Hell, over the years, I’ve contributed to that noise myself. Just scroll through my IG to witness my year of phoning it in. I posted nothing but ab and butt “toning” exercises, because I was too damn burnt out and confused about my place in the industry to say anything of meaning.
But let’s set all that noise aside for a moment and ask, what is fitness really?
Well, that depends on you. What do you want to do? For most people, this is answer is pretty simple. It comes down to something akin to…
“I want to be strong and mobile enough to move around and do activities I enjoy without getting hurt or overly winded.”
It also might have a theme of…
“Actually, I’d like to feel confident or even athletic. I’d like to have some muscle. I think it would be cool to be able to do a split/swing a kettlebell/do that crazy plank thing in a Pilates class.”
Or may it’s as basic as…
“I think I’d feel better if I moved a little bit more every day. I don’t care what it is. I just want it to be enjoyable.”
Do you see a theme here? It depends. Fitness is what you make it. It can be as basic or as specific as you want, but it only works when you define and pursue it on your own terms. The second it stops being that and turns into a commercial for fear, self-loathing, and misery, you’ve left planet fitness and have fallen into the black hole of dysfunction.
Screw what the industry tells you. Screw what I tell you. Ask yourself what you want and if you’re overwhelmed on where to start, find someone to help you. I know you’ve been burned, but I promise you, we’re not all here to sell you weird diet products and make you feel bad about your body or physical abilities.
A lot of us just want to teach you how to squat, offer some strategies to help you reach a goal with less frustration and suffering, or make exercise more fun or at the very least less terrible, because you know what the benefits of exercise are – strength, flexibility, muscle mass, body comp, longevity…yadda yadda. You didn’t need me to tell you that.
So, I’ll ask you again. What do you want? Why are you reading this article? How do you want to define fitness for yourself? What makes sense in your life?
Got an answer? Good. That’s fitness and whatever it is, it’s fucking perfect. You can pursue that. Definitely do that.
P.S. Still not sure where to start? I’d love to help you in whatever way you want my help, should you want my help.
Feel free to send me an email with your question. If I don’t have an answer, I’ll point you do someone who does.
Join my list if you want tips on how to get more out of your squat/press/push-up, podcasts or simple fun workouts that you can do at home. (FYI I just linked to my home page, but the list opt in box is where it tells you to grab the quickie.)
Or if you’re looking for more of a community experience, join my virtual gym. It’s currently getting a mini makeover that will include a live weekly class schedule, but already, you’ll get access to a month long resistance bands program (all pre-recorded videos, so you can follow it anytime!), on demand 20-40 minute kettlebell, pilates, and circuit training classes, and a supportive online community – plus, you get 14 days free and access to me in a private FB group, where again I will be thrilled to answer all of your fitness questions.
Finally, I haven’t advertised these in forever, but I am available to do virtual private sessions. Contact me here, if you want to set up a short call to discuss if I’m the right teacher for you. This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s just a conversation, so I can help you make an informed decision or refer you to someone else if I’m not the right instructor for you.
Because, if you want to fitness, you can fitness and deserve to fitness – absolutely no pre-reqs required. It’s about meeting yourself where you’re at and doing what you want. Anything else you can kick to the curb.