In this episode we’ll be looking at the toxic culture of the fitness industry and the enforcement of gender stereotyping, harmful body shaming and policing of people’s identities and lifestyles.
To say that there is some toxic messaging used by the fitness industry would be an understatement. This is not to say that every person in the industry is preaching harmful rhetoric, but yeah, most of them are.
There is a very large percentage of trainers out there who express the view that being ‘overweight’ is something to be ashamed of and that it’s something you should change about yourself.
This view is layered on top of the discriminatory attitude constantly pushed by the industry and many trainers regarding people who are trans, gender diverse or queer; people of colour; people who are differently abled and people from lower socioeconomic brackets.
It is very NOT ok.
How is a person supposed to feel good about getting moving when all they may be seeing or hearing is the message that they are wrong to be who they are or how they are.
I’ve had folks tell me that they want to train at home before they join a gym so they look fitter, have lost weight, have some muscles before they go.
Going to a gym, training studio or accessing a trainer are a right everyone should have, not a privilege accessible only to the few.
Figuring out how you want to feel, what things you want to be able to do in life and how you want to see yourself are all important questions to ask yourself when you do decide to begin moving.
Moving your body needs to be done on your terms. You are not obligated to fulfil anyone’s expectations of who you are or how you should exist.
If a gym or trainer is telling you that you need to lose weight regardless of your physical size or what your actual desires are when it comes to being active, I’d strongly recommend finding someone more affirming to help you.
THERE ARE TRAINERS AND GYMS OUT THERE THAT ARE AFFIRMING OF ALL BODIES AND ALL IDENTITIES. IF YOU POP ON TO INSTAGRAM, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO CHECK OUT A BUNCH.
These are just some of the folks around. There are many more out there but if you are in need of some affirming, body positive, supportive people that celebrate all bodies, all identities and all abilities then these profiles are an amazing place to start.
The views pushed by the fitness industry, trainers and society as a whole are super toxic. They are fuelled by a patriarchal society that diminishes any person that isn’t cis-gendered, heterosexual, white and male.
Breaking out of the engrained cycle of toxic shaming of our bodies, identities and lives can be tough and takes time.
Trauma caused by these experiences shapes our whole identities, so it’s a process. Take it slow and be gentle with yourself.
Our subconscious brain doesn’t distinguish what is truth from what is a story that we are telling ourselves. Stories like our bodies need to be changed, that we need to be attractive to be accepted by people, that we are lesser if we don’t “fit in” to the standard social construct of western culture.
It believes everything we think. So we need to make sure we are telling it things that are helpful.
When our subconscious believes positive affirming things we say about ourselves, it becomes easier to begin to change the harmful stories we tell about ourselves. Replacing them with ones that help to build us up.
The more often you start saying a nice thing about you, the easier it becomes to believe the nice things and begin to see that the negative messaging out there isn’t yours to take on.
Reminder: You are an excellent human, exactly as you are.
What is considered attractive, acceptable or desirable is totally subjective.
If you truly struggle to believe that you can say a positive thing about yourself. Try something neutral instead. You could start with something like, I like the colour (insert your favourite colour/s here). The colour X makes me feel (insert neutral/positive feeling here) or even I have eyebrows, maybe you don’t have eyebrows and you could say I don’t have eyebrows.
Just stick to little facts.