Why I cringe at the words Fitness & Personal Training - the hidden negatives.
Re-claiming, re-inventing and re-freshing In 2020 :)
Now in the so called Health & Fitness business coming up 12 years with a couple of huge careers prior to that in professional classical ballet and theatre production that really began from age 3. I find myself being repelled by certain words, two of them being the word ‘fitness’ and the other ‘Personal Trainer’. I will attempt to explain why surfice to say, I feel I have evolved as a person and as a professional, who can identify much more clearly with my beliefs, values and purpose for people to tap into and benefit from.
Why is it I cringe even saying the word ‘fitness’? I think perhaps it has been overused to conjure up extremes - one being someone who feels shameful and disappointed in themselves because they have labelled themselves ‘un-fit’, this often splurges forth when I say I am a Personal Trainer & Pilates Instructor. It’s like they need to purge their guilt ahead of me making judgement, assuming that in my role I will. This for starters is sad and negative . . . it’s the opposite to what I do and how I feel when I meet a person or a new client, more on that later. The word fitness on the flipside seems to conjure up images of muscles, leanness and even toughness, an elite kind of unattainable vision of a humankind.
When I qualified as a Personal Trainer nearly 12 years ago, I wore the title with pride and wanted to feel at 47 I would also inspire others as they reached middle age to keep fit and healthy. I loved my new knowledge and was excited to train my clients . . . however initially I ignored my prior experience and knowledge as a dancer, mother and in theatre production, I thought I had to ‘be' the job title. This soon revealed that what I had learned in my previous careers was far more valuable than a basic
Cert 3 & 4 in Fitness & Personal Training and I slowly allowed this to creep into my teaching and the way I put my sessions together. It became less about great impressive programs and feats and more and more about understanding how each person ticked. I became invested in helping my clients with their relationship with themselves, their ability to learn, to gain confidence connecting mind, body and spirit and overcoming physical & emotional obstacles that were holding them back from feeling good about themselves. My strong mission to support them in becoming empowered and energised through moving and then improving.
I have played with words and terminology over the years and developed my Mobility Matters program, which I believe is the pre-curser to fitness, but far more important in many ways, as true fitness cannot be obtained without a certain level of mobility and feeling good. When you move well with independence, is far more important than running a marathon for day to day life. Sure it’s great to have a challenge and goal to work towards, but a huge percentage of the population are not even walking properly or well, they are traumatised by this ‘fitness’ idea and perhaps repelled more to ever doing such a thing. We were made to move, to hunt, to gather, to tend crops for our food, mobility is required for that, and the more effortless it is to move well, the more likely we are to ‘want to move’ often daily.
As for the word Personal Trainer, a man recently said to me on the phone with his enquiry discussion, ‘so Andrea you will just tell me what to do, so I can get fitter, right?’ My immediate response was, ‘no I will ask you the right questions and help YOU decide. I will make suggestions, but ultimately I will help you learn more about yourself and what you need. I will help you create ways to connect your mind, body and spirit so you ‘feel’ good within yourself.’ I started using the term ‘personalised training’, because my mission immediately from the gecko with every client, is to create a sense of accomplishment. Encouragement to embrace all the current good stuff and feel ready to start gradually gaining awareness as to what small new understandings will bring change, as and when they become clear, and gradual awareness reveals itself. This creates a positive, gleeful feeling from both the client and me (one of the reasons I do my job and love it)
My discovery of bodyART training over 4 years ago, added another layer of this way of working with people, the barefoot foundation of the entire standing posture, the building of a body that moves as a whole, the Yin & Yang balance in the breathe, physical movements & mind connection, that flows into an analogy for life and self awareness, the acceptance of self and the flow of the 5 elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine built into it, made for a love of seeing people make choices right for themselves, based on intuition and never being ‘told’ to do something or thinking they ‘should’.
My background as a dancer certainly has had a positive influence in surprising ways and this is clearer now more than ever, the discipline and ability to keep going consistently, sometimes pushing through, has given me a lifelong determination to do the things I have chosen to put my energy into, albeit at times too relentlessly. However the other surprising side of that is the memories as a young dancer of being made to feel like a failure, because my physical body was supposedly so ‘wrong’ and many parts of me were continually criticised and shamed when in actual fact I could not change them no matter what I did. I now look back and make as much focus on my great triumphs and strengths as I can, such as jumping, which was (still is in a different way) my super power and I was great at it and I felt super human and on fire when I was jumping and doing things like double split grand jete’s (French ballet term) In my day, the focus would be on the imperfect stuff and this was emotionally tough, particularly when joining a huge International ballet company in a London at age 17, not equipt with the mental maturity to cope with non-stop tearing down, which was supposedly designed to make you fight back and claw your way up. Not my nature & still isn’t and I have always set myself high standards, but I will never forget how negatively I felt about myself and I know that ENCOURAGEMENT & EMPATHY are 2 very important human attributes we all crave and need and much of my work today begins with these two very human needs & offerings.
Gone a little off on a tangent, but coming back to the words ‘fitness and Personal Trainer’. With my manifesting in 2019 to take time out at the end of the year and step back for a bit to re-claim, re-fresh & re-invent my life & work for 2020 & my 60th year. . . I feel words that send a message of hope, choice, opportunity for growth & improvement in mind and body are those I will use to describe what I do and what my business mission & values are. Words that say, come on in and join me & my friendly community, you are enough just as you are, but if you become aware and are inspired and supported, there are ways and opportunities for you to choose to be a happier, more mobile, a stronger well-being, as you learn and discover more about you.
I found myself saying to my Circuit/Pilates Small Group recently that I had put a progressive demo video on their secret community Facebook Page to assist with one of the circuit stations or home workouts. That anything I post or put out there is to inspire and motivate them, never as a show off/ look at me message. As a nearly 60 year old menopausal woman who practises what she teaches, preaches and encourages, and lives by her own discoveries & self learning, perhaps I might inspire some to be pro-active too. Daily consistent mobility and mindful movement can keep you feeling youthful and alive and maintain great energetic mobility. Take responsibility for yourself, there is no magic pill, but whatever you decide is the path you want to take, I will respect that, as it is entirely your choice.
I am so excited about finishing 2019 well, stopping, stepping away and the immense unknown possibilities that lie ahead for you and for me in 2020.