So recently I have done something that has terrified me in the past. I have been going to the gym. And actually using equipment. And I kinda like it. I should likely explain the whole story. I have not been in a gym for about 12 years. For me the gym and getting a trainer was always tied up in changing my body, manipulating my shape and trying to fit into an "ideal". I have never enjoyed lifting weights....and to be honest I didn't learn how to use the equipment. I stopped going to gyms when I started my journey with Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size. What the gym represented to me did to mesh with what I wanted my life to be. One of the principles of Intuitive Eating is Intuitive Movement. This principle means that you move your body in a way that you enjoy and not for the purpose of weight loss or body manipulation which was the way I viewed my exercise at the gym. Presently the 2 ways I love to move my body are running and yoga. I have been told many times that these 2 things do not really jive with each other but for me both make me feel free...and I love to feel free.
Yet this year has been about trying new things (Yeah new job!!), doing things that scare me (hello blogging) and just being me (short short bleach blond hair cut) so when the sign up for student trainers was in my inbox one day at work I decided to see if I liked the gym with my new mindset. The mindset that exercise does not have to be about changing me- just about moving me. The school I teach at has an awesome Fitness and Health Promotion program and I work with a lot of the amazing staff so I was pretty confident that my student trainer would be client focused and not necessarily have a weight loss agenda...and I was right. I have a trainer who totally accepted my goals of doing 3 push ups (currently can't do one) and a pull up (may need to reevaluate this as I have discovered I really do not like hanging from things). He has been finding fun things to do ( those ropes you are supposed to wiggle up and down are heavy!) and I don't feel intimidated at all. In previous experiences I didn't feel like my body fit the toned image I had of a person at the gym. Now I really don't care. I wear clothes that I can move in without worrying how I look because I am busy smashing a ball on the floor (crazy therapeutic exercise). And this not worrying is very freeing. I laugh. I swear. I sweat. And I have fun. Admittedly this is because I have an awesome trainer who hasn't brought diet culture into our sessions at all. He is super positive and meets me where I am physically or mentally that day and we go from there. I just keep thinking that if others had this experience people that otherwise avoid the gym might actually enjoy it.
I find joy in movement. I did not think I would find joy in gym exercises. In both running and yoga I focus on my breath. I bring awareness to my body. I am mindful of the surrounding sounds or the colour of the sky (when running outside). I wasn't expecting to find my breath doing a lat pull down but it happened. I have become even more present in my body by becoming aware of how certain movements trigger certain muscles. I have realized I am a natural sloucher and am working on "carrying my body with pride". And even more surprising I am finding I am enjoying this form of movement. Do I care if I lose weight? Nope. Do I care if my pant size changes? Nope. Do I care if I actually can do a pull up by December? Not really. Do I care that twice a week for one hour I am moving my body in a way that I enjoy and is bringing me pleasure? Yeah!!!
I think that going to the gym can be triggering for many people. My previous perspective of all people involved in training and the gym being steeped in diet culture was wrong. And I am so happy to admit I was wrong. Now I know that my current experience is the exception not the norm but it gives me hope for the future. That we are teaching new trainers to be accepting of all bodies and goals. That maybe someone is going to the gym to not change their body but learn to accept and love their body- the way it is.
So this is my very public thank you to MD for putting up with my sarcasm, opinions on every topic that comes up and my very frequent use of swear words
I am thankful that I decided to try this and I will likely sign up again next semester. Because if I am being totally honest it will likely take until 2020 before I master a pull up. And that is totally ok!
until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me