Happy Sunday, Maniacs! I hope you guys are well. If not, I pray that things will get better for you and that whatever you’re going through, may healing come and restore what hurts the most.
I feel like I’ve been in quite an observant space as of late. Not a lot of talking or writing. Just soaking up everything that life is throwing my way. BUT, thankfully, today I have something to talk about!
As you know, the weight-loss journey I have been on has been hard, yet very rewarding! To see how my body and mind are transforming is quite a sight for me to behold. My confidence is becoming more visible and vocal than it used to be, whether it shouts from the ferocity of my dance classes or is on display due to my startling–evergrowing– leggings collection, people are taking notice. All of that is great and all, but I want to speak on my journey as it relates to my career being a fitness instructor.
How has it been venturing into an industry where the majority of the people you see are smaller and are seemingly admired for their shape and so on? Did it take a toll on me? Did it discourage my efforts of thinking of myself as being a worthy instructor?
“Mirror Mirror, on the wall, who’s the fittest of them all? Even if my hips spread wide, even if Redwood-Tree tall, not all things that are fit are small.”
When you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see yourself as the 8th wonder of the world, where your looks are untouchable and are beyond room for improvement? That perhaps you are the exemplification of what it means to be fit, and through that mentality, you believe your physical prowess can inspire others to be the same? Or maybe you’re like me—looking at the reality that you may not be exactly what the posters at the gym say you should be. That when you look at your body, your curves are one with the laws of gravity and the love within them runs over like water overflowing a flower pot? Well, I have been through both stages. Let’s explore the touchy, uncomfortable topic of body shaming and the judgments that people make based on others’—and their own—appearances, particularly pertaining to our profession of being fitness instructors.
As a teacher, have you guys felt that people judged the way your class was gonna go based on how you look? If you are ripped as a washboard maybe they’d make the inference that your class would be challenging, that you must be great as a fitness instructor because you look the part? Perhaps you aren’t ripped and you have slightly more cushion than “Cha-Cha-Cha, Charmin” Double-ply toilet tissue and people get one look at you and question why you are even attempting to teach fitness in the first place? OR you overhear—even if it is not on purpose—people talk about their aspirations to look like this person or that person, but you then realize that your body type is nowhere near the same as what they aspire? That really can be a major bludgeon to one’s self-esteem—ripped, fluffy, musclebound or otherwise.
I remember when I first started teaching and those that knew me when I was a student were educated on the fact that even though I was a heavier guy, I was still capable of moving with the best of them. As a student, that may have been okay because I wasn’t leading, so I didn’t feel the need to be like the “fit” instructor on stage.
When I became a teacher, those that didn’t know me as ‘Cameron, the student’ would walk past me wondering where the teacher was, and I was standing right there the entire time. Talk about a painful realization of societal perspectives of what it means to be fit crushing your confidence. I admit: I’m not super ripped, nor am I slender to the point that my Adonis belt is visible. I am curvy, I am shapely, chunky, voluptuous, dare I even say this word: FAT—to society’s standards.
But you know what happened after each class was over? Magic! I made a believer out of those who once yearned to seek an instructor who fits society’s aesthetically preferred version of a superstar instructor. That wall that laid between us was broken down and when they saw someone of my stature and build moving like I was a feather with attitude, boy, oh boy, I somehow gave them the confidence to accept their curves, their cellulite, their bodies for the beautiful things that they are. Each of us moved our varied-shaped frames, improving agility, brain power, and muscle tone, not for the sake of others’ approval, but because we wanted to be healthy.
For once, I knew I was making a difference. That I didn’t have to fit an anatomically superior mold to be an instructor. I was their leader, I was their confidence, their captain, their spicy-flavored conquistador, their FITNESS instructor! I reiterate that all of us wanted to become healthier, not in spite of our physical shape, but for the sake of making our lives more enjoyable in the long run.
Looking good naked? That’s great and all, but if people want you for your body and not who you are on the inside, you’ve already lost trying to please them in the first place. But that’s another article for another time.
As a Les Mills instructor, I realize that my role in this world is vital for the health of the human race. With so much egregious stuff being lodged into our minds making us doubt ourselves, bash our looks, negate our importance, it is a part of my job to combat those voices inside myself and my students by reaffirming that they are valuable, strong, beautiful and powerful beyond measure. Why? Because they show up to class to be better versions of themselves day in and day out. There is truly something to be said for that kind of determination, that grit. It’s truly inspiring and makes me work harder to be the best teacher that I can be.
“Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the fittest of them all? Six-packs aside, cellulite abides, the most important muscle in the health of who you are is on the inside. Flex it, sweat it out, use it bravely, and witness the alluring metamorphosis that will mentally and physically make you feel healthy. Love is kind, never shallow, walk away from the Mirror and neglect that shameful sorrow. You are now on your way to things exponentially better, remember that you are enough, and that, THAT, is what makes you fitter.”
LOVE YOU GUYS! Be good to yourself and to others this last week full week of September!
Chat with you soon!