“What if Body Image was Based on What Bodies do for Us Rather than How they Look?” [Part II]
"It was an interesting dynamic to work mornings at the gym where everyone was lifting weights every day, then go to work nights at a kayak shop, where everyone liked to tell me that the outdoors was their gym. Which group enjoyed their lives more? Which attitude contributed to overall health and happiness?"
I loved studying for my degree in Exercise Science and Outdoor Recreation. My emphasis allowed me to study core exercise science and physiology classes, on top of business, outdoor leadership and core outdoors-skills classes. I use my degree every day, even though my savings account may not agree with me.
When I graduated, I immediately set my sights on getting certified as a personal trainer. I interned at a gym while I studied for the test. Once I passed the test, I started training clients. It was very rewarding to train clients and see results, but like most personal trainers know and understand, just getting someone to the gym is half the battle. Personal trainers are there to motivate, encourage, and support their clients to make lifestyle changes that will in turn make them healthier.
The problem with being a personal trainer at a gym like that was that most people did not enjoy lifting weights, counting reps, or riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes a day. They saw it as something to check off their to-do list so that they either looked a little better naked, felt better about drinking their beers at the end of each day, or because the doctor told them they needed to exercise "X" amount to improve their health.
It was an interesting dynamic to work mornings at the gym where everyone was lifting weights every day, then to work nights at a kayak shop, where everyone liked to tell me that the outdoors was their gym. Which group enjoyed their lives more? Which attitude contributed to overall health and happiness?
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time at the gym! But I also love spending time outside. I think there are benefits to both sides (especially when it comes to cross-training to avoid overuse injuries from outdoor activities, or to build a foundation to excel in outdoor sports). But I would definitely advocate that if someone wants to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle, then getting involved with something that is actually fun and exciting, versus a chore, is the better choice by far!
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is what my goal is as a personal trainer. I want to help people find activities that will help them lead healthier lives, but will enable them to do cool things that they actually enjoy doing!
So I will end this short two-blog series with this quote, “What if body image was based on what our bodies actually do for us, rather than how they look?”
What if young women were empowered to be able to do 10 pull-ups, without worrying about their arms being too bulky? What if the guy that worked in an office his whole life was also able to climb 5.12’s? What if a middle-aged woman who was so lost and scared of going to a gym, was able to stand up paddle board in races?
Wouldn’t that be something that would easily create lifestyle changes, versus being able to bicep curl 40 lb. weights, 20 times, just because you were told you have to workout 30 minutes every day?
This is the change I want to be in the world. I want help others in this goal.
Does anyone else have any similar experiences or insight? I'd love to hear it!