There’s a lot of problems with the fitness industry, but “out of shape” fitness professionals aren’t one of them.
This thought has echoed in my mind for years, but I’ve struggled to find the words to describe why I think this is so important. Then I attended the Girls Gone Strong Women’s Strength and Empowerment Weekend and something shifted.
I took my first group fitness class when I was 16. I taught my first Pilates class when I when I was 19 (I’m 31 now). I’ve spent thousands of hours attending fitness conferences and continuing education.
Despite spending most of my life living and breathing fitness, this was the first time I’ve ever been to a fitness conference where I saw women truly represented not for their bodies, but for their power.
The presenters (all women) were different shapes and sizes. Some were shredded and some weren’t. Some were glammed out and others were sans make-up, but here’s what struck me.
What they looked like Did. Not. Matter.
Each of these women were brilliant in their own way – be it their ability to inspire, to coach, to teach others to lift heavy things, to explain the complicated intersections of fitness, or to break down the thermodynamics of eating a potato (yeah, that happened and it was awesome).
There was no posturing. No advertisers contradicting the messages of the speakers and the conference. No wild fitness claims. No one apologized for their knowledge or for calling out the aspects fitness culture that make us feel…less.
I was surprised by how much this affected me, because I like to believe I’m empowered. That I know the nonsense on the front of magazines doesn’t matter. That I’m immune to traditional fitness marketing (aka fast fixes for arguably imaginary problems). That what I have to say is more important than what I look like, because if I’m honest, I don’t actually feel that way.
Like many women, I often feel constrained by the potential judgements of others and the feeling that I’m not enough. That I don’t have enough knowledge to share information or the right body type to demonstrate exercises in front of a camera.
But, I do it anyways.
In fact, most days feel like this.
Being at that conference made me realize that if enough of us of use our voices to step into our power and change the culture, then maybe we don’t have to be caged at all – or that even if there is a cage or what seems like an immutable obstacle, that we have the ability to run with it and make it work.
Because to quote Neghar Fonooni in her talk, “Our appearance is not a pre-requisite to show up.”
Your body is not a broken thing that needs to be fixed.
You have the right to pursue fitness – or anything else that you want – on your own terms.
You have the power to live your life the way you want. To speak your truth. To be yourself.
Oh…and you’re enough, but you knew that, right?
P.S. One of my latest obsessions (and the inspiration for the title of this blog post) is Leigh Peele’s podcast “You need to hear this.”
Leigh presented at the conference and I was impressed by her knowledge of metabolic function as well as her candor about the realities of applying the science to real world scenarios (aka life).
She’s funny and painfully honest, yet compassionate, so if you need a pep talk with a dose of science + reality, you can check it out here.