Grab a coffee, tea, a cold drink... Put on your favourite leggings on and pop your feet up. As I join you to chat about all things body positive, I thought I would share little about me. So, first up, let’s talk about the elephant in the room... Yes, I am a plus-size woman, and yes I am a Personal Trainer (PT) and Group Fitness Instructor. Those two don’t often go together as there is a perception that a PT is thin, full of muscles, and only eats protein, greens and smoothies! But I and many other curvy PT’s would like to prove that wrong!
I became a PT around 9 years ago after completing several rounds of an online weight loss program. I had great success with the program although I did end up injured and found it unsustainable. I also worried as it prescribed the same restrictive diet for everyone, not considering a person's required Basal Metabolic rate for the diet (a Basal Metabolic rate is the number of calories we need to function day to day). The exercises also were the same and we know someone who is large and heavy cannot jump a weight bench! Different activities or sports also require specific exercises to build muscle groups in certain areas.
I recognised this was not going to work for many as I was seeing many injured or once stopping the program, gaining back the weight plus more (including myself).
I qualified as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor in 2011. I wanted to pay forward what I had learnt. I have continued to study women’s health and fitness. I feel women, in general, are often not given the right advice or provided specialised alternative exercises when taking classes. This also occurs for plus size women and men. There are no modifications provided.
I have also seen young women and women of a mid-life age prescribed the same programs. This bothers me as I think programs need to really consider what the participants need and want. Let's face it... If I say to someone who hates burpees to do 50 a day, it's never going to happen!
Anyways I digress. I was explaining my journey as a plus-size PT which is extremely challenging and confronting on some days. I have been on a journey for a while now to love and accept my body size as is. This is where I am comfortable. This is the size that lets me live and love life. I don't have to spend my whole day stressing about food, and what I'm eating and when and feeling guilty about food and just plain letting it run and ruin my life. I have been bulimic from around the age of about 28, and that is a whole other blog, but for now, let's just say I have accepted and am happy with my body and what it can and has done for me.
When working for gyms there is a judgement made by the members and some staff if you are overweight you will not be able to perform the job. Your ability is under question – if she cant train herself, build muscles and abs – how can she train others. They need to understand and acknowledge being fat does not mean I am not fit! Being overweight does not necessarily mean that I am unhealthy!
I am more than competent to train individuals, and groups, BUT I know I am judged for my weight and appearance and this has caused me issues with my confidence to the point where I had not taught a class for approximately 6 months. Dealing with poor body image is debilitating, to say the least.
I was back teaching classes (before COVID-19) and used all my positive body self-talk and messages to help me feel confident in myself. I would like to share some of these strategies with you too as we get to know each other better. I have done a lot of stepping outside my comfort zone stuff to learn to love myself and my body e.g. a lingerie shoot and a naked Glitter shoot just to name a few. Most liberating thing I have done!
I will continue to be judged for my size by club members in class when they don’t know me, although feedback from my classes is that I’m an excellent instructor and my fun personality (I’m modest) makes people keep coming back.
Every class is different, not sure about you but I hate the same exercise routine every time, and I enjoy making people laugh and smile.
I enjoy being in classes. My favourite classes are boxing, circuits and I love dancing. Zumba classes would be my favourite class (I am actually quite uncoordinated in Zumba class but still have fun). I recently did a “fat” dance class which took us through belly dancing. This was so much fun and loads of giggles, followed by a jazz class where we learnt a small dance routine, again loads of fun. The best part - no judgement, no-one cared what anyone else was doing, we were all too busy concentrating on getting the moves right!
My other love is Yoga. Yoga for plus sizes is modified to ensure all abilities and sizes are catered for. I am currently following an online yoga class and enjoying it maybe because no one can see.
I love to that yoga and in fact, any exercise can be adapted. One of my favourite adaptions in yoga for plus-sized people I have seen lately is with downward dog. A chair is introduced to use for your hands rather than having to place them on the floor. This eliminates the need to get all the way down to the floor and taking the full weight through the wrists and hands.
I will share with you over time many ways you can move more, and always while having fun. Exercise does not have to be boring or punishing, it should be something to look forward to!
If you have a specific area you would like to hear about or a topic please let me know.
In some of my future blogs, we will discuss modifications or alternatives for programs depending on ability, age and even sport. I am planning to blog about these things and also share health and well-being tips. I also plan to have some guest bloggers who are experts in their fields.
I look forward to getting to know you and would love to hear what you think of the blog.
Move a little every day!
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