The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year shouldn’t cause you any worry, guilt or shame. Body Positive Fitness Alliance cares about your full (mental, physical and emotional) health and we want you to pursue fitness in sane and sustainable ways. Here’s how to survive the holidays, the Fit2point0 way:
1. Eat whatever you want.
That’s right! Eat whatever you want!
But at the same time, stop eating when you are satisfied.
This method could help you eat much less than if you were to designate certain times or days over the holiday season to EAT ALL THE FOOD BECAUSE TOMORROW IT’S BACK TO THE DIET.
Five to ten scattered days of designated binging could leave you feeling like you’re on a roller coaster ride- binge, restrict, binge, restrict, binge, restrict. Sound familiar? Your brain, emotions and body likely hate this method. So STOP.
Tell yourself you can have whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as you eat mindfully by paying attention to the pace you’re eating, enjoying every bite (not eating just to eat), and stopping when you become satisfied or close to full.
You might find you’ll try things just for the taste and flavor- which is a stark contrast from eating all the sweets because this is the only day you can.
Enjoy the foods your friends and family have put their labor of love into. You won’t die. I promise.
It’s very likely you’ll find your workouts feel super fueled after a day of enjoying treats you may not normally. Bonus!
2. Move when you can.
Instead of taking out the November & December calendars to meticulously map out what days you will ABSOLUTELY go to the gym and follow your training plan only to fall short because you have to pick up Aunt Maddie from the airport on a moment’s notice because your brother flaked or get those last minute gifts because unexpected kids are accompanying your guests to your get together or your trip to get giftware turned into a three hour ordeal because EVERYWHERE IS SOLD OUT… and then NOT make it to the gym (which could result in self deprecation, guilt, bad feelings).
How about just agreeing to be kind to yourself and allowing yourself to find movement when you can?
The holidays and family get togethers are great excuses to check out new places to hike, walk, or do fun indoor activities. Some of the most soul-feeding moments I’ve had have been on a post-dinner walk with loved ones around the holidays. Jumping around for an hour with your kids at a trampoline park on Christmas vacation in lieu of leg day is A-OKAY.
3. Be kind to yourself.
Realize that some times in our lives are meant for physical and emotional growth and nurturing- and for a lot of people, the holidays are that time. So even if you do accidentally eat till your over full one day or don’t meet any of your movement goals for a week or two- remember- LIFE happens.
Focus on the emotional nurturing you’re getting by being holly jolly with friends and family and tell your body that you’re so grateful for all it does to house your life. By feeding our soul this time of year, we’re setting ourselves up for a great overall balance of full health (mental/physical/emotional) for the remainder of the year.
If you want some support achieving these steps without stressing, join our facebook group. We're here for you.
The post below was originally made on Disrupt Your Diet on March 18, 2015.
In the weeks leading up to me penning this post, I was requested to be shoved into a Fit1point0 shaped box for the sake of "exposure" on a "new and different" fitness magazine's website.
In the months leading up to this post, I'd been getting messages from trainers all over the world telling me that they're doing what I'm doing at Surf City Fit Club to make fitness more accessible, approachable and inclusive for all people. There were also professionals asking me for guidance on how to reach the types of people I was reaching at SCFC. I knew I had to unite us all together somehow.
I sat down and wrote a ranty blog post. It was fueled by my desire to shout from the rooftops that THERE IS A BETTER WAY.
There's a better way to fitness. Fitness is supposed to enhance our quality of life, not detract from it.
A few weeks after this blog post was written, I recruited my partner Danielle and we put a label on these seven items. They became the Seven Pillars of the Body Positive Fitness Alliance. They became the absolute standard for inclusive fitness and they became THE way to bring the most people to fitness.
We just celebrated our first birthday with 30 professionals gathering from all around the world for our inaugural Two Day BPFA Affiliated Professionals Workshop. And just last week became incorporated at Body Positive Fitness Alliance, Inc.
To celebrate, here's that ranty blog post. If year ago me knew where this was headed, her mind would've been blown.
What is #fit2point0 about? How do we define it?
1. I choose to provide an environment where anyone from any walk of life can step foot in and move their bodies without worrying about what they look like while doing it.
2. I choose to eliminate any intimidating elements from this space which I provide. I understand the difference between intimidating and challenging.
3. I apply the fact that the two greatest motivators are the power of choice and FUN.
4. I have built a community free of egos and full of heart. I have taught my members that "fit" does not have a look. Anyone who walks in our doors is a member of our family. We celebrate each other's successes, we lift each other up when down and we don't stand for judgement.
5. I refrain from commenting about others' food choices because I understand that all food is good food and foods hold no moral value. I understand that the socioeconomic, environmental, familial, cultural, emotional and preferential reasons behind what someone might be eating are vast and more deeply rooted than any one person can begin to understand.
6. I live in the belief that health is equal parts mental, physical and emotional. Balance is the key to health and one third cannot thrive if another third is suffering.
7. I believe in praise and celebration of what one can do and not what one looks like. I understand the damage which is done to individuals when they are encouraged to take up less space. I understand that happiness does not increase or decrease based on one's size- no matter how much someone thinks it might.
My name is Michele Burmaster and I am #partofthesolution. Are YOU on board?
Are you REALLY on board? Do you agree 100% with every one of these ideals?
A great wave of change is coming to the fitness community. It involves the inclusion and health of ALL individuals without the need to subscribe to a culture, extremism, diet, method, trainer, schedule, workload or belief system.
It involves breaking down every single last barrier between the general public and their best possible selves. Their fittest selves.
We are taking back fitness. It should've never belonged to anyone to begin with. Fitness is a right, not a privilege.
And with that, BPFA was born. Review those bullet points for a second. They're where this was born:
5. Scope of Practice
6. Full Heath
7. Body Positivity
So, are you ready to come on board? Future and current fitness professionals are invited to join us for our next BPFA Affiliated Professionals Workshop. The next one is a remote workshop you can attend from anywhere around the world. See you there!
Keep the wave of change going. Soon enough, it'll be 95% of people who identify as fit, instead of just 5%.
The fitness industry is at a pretty pivotal point at the end of 2015 and start of 2016.
As I see it, at this point as a fitness professional, you can either choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Solution to what? you might ask.
Here's the problem:
The fitness industry is RIDDEN with "professionals" who give the good guys a bad name. Professionals who think it's okay to:
1. Work outside of scope of practice by dolling out meal plans and food shaming without the understanding and empathy it truly takes to help someone make a food-related change in their lives. There are educated specialists for this who get their information a bit further than T-nation.com.
2. Can't seem to understand the difference between "challenging" and "intimidating" and feel that the latter is an appropriate way to administer a workout. And on that note....
3. Can't seem to walk the line on what is good for our bodies and what is bad. Good: sweat, elevated heart rate. Bad: blood, vomit (ya know, the things that happen when your body is trying to tell you something is wrong here).
So, Fitpro, are you ready to be a part of the solution?
Here's a handy guide to help you navigate working with your clients in a way which is conducive to their FULL (read: mental, emotional AND physical) health.
You have a weight loss client who you're afraid is going to "fall off the wagon" this season.
Start by telling yourself "there is no wagon in life, man". Seriously- if you're trying to set your clients up for long-term success, sustainable habit building is the way to go, and sustainable habits are no part of any sort of "wagon".
Allow them to make adult decisions on what they eat and when and how. De-mystify the idea of holiday foods. If we force our clients to feel shame about their eating behaviors or foods, they're actually more likely to binge or eat past full during those "allowed times".
Instead, I suggest preaching moderation year-round. Don't let your clients get caught in the restrict-binge-restrict cycle. Lead by example that balance does not look like a 'cheat day' every week, but instead looks more like the occasional treat here and there when the craving is present. This leads to less over-indulgence all around, believe it or not!
Just take a chill pill and let them live their lives this holiday. The alternative would be making someone feel ashamed for partaking in holidays with their loved ones. Don't be that guy.
Workouts and varying schedules
These parents just have so much shopping to do and parties to attend, how will they EVER keep up their workout schedule?
Here's another great opportunity to lead by example! Use your social media during the holiday season to display less-than-orthodox methods of getting movement in. We all know our schedules are off over the holidays, and that's okay. Just because your client cannot make it in to see you 3x a week this month doesn't mean we need to concern troll their progress.
They might carry a little guilt for not making it in as much, and as a part of the solution, it's your job to dampen that. Equip your clients with tools to help them become more autonomous in their fitness and movement. Truth is, they don't need you or your facility to get moving. Help them feel that way. As backwards as it may seem, they'll love you more for it than if you sent them fb posts and texts about how "bad" they're being this season by missing a session here and there.
Your clients are smart and they can sense real and fake support from a mile away.
New Year's Resolutions
You know these are bull, right?
Should you take advantage of the fact that this is the busiest time of year for the fitness industry? ABSOLUTELY, you'd be a bad business person not to.
Should you take advantage of the vulnerability that many people experience this time of year with regards to the dissatisfaction they feel with themselves and their bodies? NO. Don't do that.
Help your clients in setting performance based goals for the next 365 days. This should scratch their "Resolution" itch. And feel free to explain to them why resolutions are set up to fail.
Resolutions are usually made from a place of guilt and reflection (oh man, I didn't do ANYTHING I wanted to do this past year, it got away from me so quickly. Next year, though, I'll do xyz). They're not autonomous because they're not decided to be made by the maker- they're decided to be made by the calendar and by society.
Coach your clients to create goals that are attainable, sustainable, realistic, empowering and outside of relation to the time of year it is. Help them make goals they could easily make any time of year- and help them reach them.
Are you ready to be a part of the #fit2point0 movement and become a part of the solution to the extremes, exclusionary practices and disorder in the fitness industry?
Join us in Huntington Beach, CA on February 20 and 21 to become a Body Positive Fitness Alliance Affiliated Professional and learn actionable steps you can take to help make your practice better, your clients better, and the industry as a whole a better place.
Video yourself teaching an absolute beginner an exercise for the first time and use it for review. Analyze:
1. How many things did you say about the exercise as you were teaching it, before they attempted?
2. Did you say anything during their very first attempt?
3. What did you say immediately following their very first attempt?
4. Once they started repping, how many things did you say, and what did you say?
Many trainers who do this for the first time realize they said way too much vs. being concise, focused and straightforward. My underlying assumption I carry for ALL trainers is that they have the best intentions. This would be a case of having the best intentions, and in most cases even some great exercise knowledge, but all too often do I encounter the trainer who doesn't really understand HOW to teach.
The problem is, a lot of trainers say too much for any individual to process over a very short time span of a minute or two, and so instead of the client choosing which they relate to and understand the best, they cannot retain any of it and will more than likely be left feeling overwhelmed. We then run the risk of the "this fitness stuff is not for me" attitude.
BPFA has developed a system for teaching any exercise in the most straightforward, safe and confidence-building manner. It's actually taken directly from my higher level education in, well.... education. It looks like this (and of course there's an entire session on this system at our workshop in February!):
Choose ONLY three cues, less than 10 words each (this will vary based on the individual, fitness level, experience and physical abilities).
Use the following drill down to determine what those cues will be:
First- what makes this exercise the most *safe*.
Second- what makes this exercise focus deliberately on the intended muscle groups worked. *activation*
Third- what makes this exercise *optimal* for this individual.
Safety, activation, optimization.
In teaching a beginner, your three chosen cues should fall under first priority- safety. As someone becomes more experienced and is mastering the basics aka the safety of the exercise, then it is up to you, the trainer, to determine the next tier of cues which will fall between activation and optimization.
However, sometimes different cues resonate with different people. This doesn't mean throw out all 50 cues you know out all at the same time. Just like we preach to our clients to stick with something consistently before analyzing results, commit to your three cues for the entire session. When you debrief your session or sessions for the day, acknowledge what worked and what didn't, and tweak from there. The worst that can happen is that your client spends an entire session learning what doesn't work for them- which results in greater appreciation and understanding once they understand what *does* work. And since safety is your number one priority, no one is going to get hurt. Because you'll stop them if you see anything dangerous.
So there you have it. It's basic, but so intricate. To learn more about how to directly apply this, get lots of hands on practice, and learn the subtle secrets about how to make this work for your clients and your practice, come out so SoCal in February. See you there!
And if you're not already a member of our BPFA Professional Resources group and you believe that fitness should be more inclusive, accessible and approachable for all people, what are you waiting for? Join!
This past weekend I received a message from Megan Griffith, owner of Kinetic Fitness and Training, north of Charlotte in North Carolina:
"I don't know how to deal with all these MLM, particularly Shakeology and It Works, peeps attacking my clients and gym members. It is killing me. I want to scream. Every time one of my beautiful amazing clients posts a photo of themselves proud and happy in the gym, they get an inbox message telling them that "abs are made in the kitchen" or "kitchen first, gym second". I really am at my wits end. Most of these ladies are finally starting to unravel all the BS they've learned, and it kills me to see the MLMers hounding them. How do you handle this?"
Let me first start with the overlying assumption of the things I'm about to say: visible abs are not an indicator of health, nor are they "made in the kitchen". I'm going to provide some advice on how to keep our clients safe and sane from the practices of MLM predators. We could spend all day debunking claims that MLM companies make in regards to their "results", but luckily a lot of my friends have already done that. Just click the links throughout this post to read more about the "why not" behind fitness and diet MLM companies. This post is focused on the "what now?".
I'll be honest, I've thought and said on many occasions about how badly I want to take all of my clients, put them in little bubbles and keep them free of the toxicity that can sometimes be involved with the fitness industry. I want to post and tag photos of them being badass all over facebook doing deadlifts and kickboxing and just doing amazing things and not have to worry about if a second cousin of theirs is going to chime in with a comment that will do anything but lift them up in a healthy positive way.
It absolutely kills me when someone comments something that they might not even know is not particularly helpful:
"Keep your hands up when you kick." -The Person Who Doesn't Stop To Use A Compliment Sandwich And Thinks It Is Okay To Comment On Someone Else's Exercise Form In A Public Forum
"Are you sure this is good for your knees?" -Concern Troll Who Doesn't Know Much About Exercise, But Feels The Need To Let You Know They Care About You....r Knees. Also Bad At Compliment Sandwiches.
"Keep this up and imagine what you'll look like by summer!"- Person Who Thinks They're Complimenting Your Will To Workout But Obviously Doesn't Get It.
Now imagine the above characters have the same initial reactions to seeing photos of your clients in action doing amazing things, except now they qualify for one or more of the following:
1. Have invested a significant amount of money up front in product that is now on them and their livelihood to re-sell and turn a profit (or at least make back their initial investment).
2. Have been indoctrinated by the idea that independent wealth is just a facebook comment away and
3. that sales start with empathy, and empathy apparently is sending messages and making comments to your loved ones about your concern for their wellbeing and your product is just what they need. /sarcasm
In the same way we are all prey for the $60 billion/year fitness and weight loss industry, we are now all fair game for our loved ones who fall into the above criteria.
MLM companies have taken their overpriced, mediocre and sometimes dangerous product and found a way to give it "credibility" by putting their marketing and salesforce in our homes, at our family gatherings and in our social networks.
What can we do to protect the ones we love from falling victim to the skeezy sales tactics of these MLM companies? The same things we do to protect them from the predatory diet industry itself.
Set the foundation in your practice through leading by example.
Set the standard first for anti-fragility, second for high regard to evidence based practices and products, and third for anti-fragility (see what I did there?).
If we can show our clients that they are incredible beings beyond the touch of haters, and also that these products are bullshit, but mostly that they'll never need a product like that because of all their awesome, then they're likely to be unfazed by, or in the very least better prepared to deal with, messages and sales pitches from diet companies and salespeople who thrive on instilling the idea that there is still something wrong with us.
Here are a few ways to put that Anti Bullshit Sandwich into practice:
1. Share credible, evidence based nutrition information on your personal and professional social network.
Allow your clients to see how firmly you believe in not duping the public in order to sell them a product.
2. Use your first client meeting (oftentimes YOUR sales meeting) to casually work in "You Don't Need That Shit. Not Now, Not Ever" language.
Potential client: "I've always wanted to lose weight, a few of my friends have done it with a bootcamp, and my sister in law does Herbalife. I'm just not sure where to start."
You, trainer: "I'm hearing that you want to lose some pounds. We can do that by creating healthy, sustainable habits and focusing on enhancing your overall quality of life. The truth is, we don't really need any sort of diet products to do any of that".
3. Create skeptical clients by helping them realize "That's Them. This Is Us."
Encourage your clients to engage in critical thinking by making The Diet Industry something that you guys are not a part of. You are different. You are a facility that helps individuals realize their full potential. You help them add to their quality of life. Your focus is on full health, not quick fixes. Make everything you do about that. (Yes, I realize that this bullet point is loaded and I could write a textbook on this topic. Luckily for all of us, I instead put these concepts into a two day workshop).
4. Whatever you do, don't rant, hate, or be negative.
Remember, these people are still our clients' loved ones and people they value and trust. Our main goal is helping them and reinforcing that trust. If we rant about how stupid and pointless these products are we are insinuating that the people they love are also stupid for falling into the MLM trap. The fact of the matter is, they're not stupid. The sales people are victims, too.
Also, it's important that no matter what it is we are criticizing or shedding light on for our clients' benefit that we always stay as positive as possible while doing so. Although I might joke about the compliment sandwich, Body Positive Fitness is all about using tools to motivate individuals to take their quality of life into their own hands.
Dissing someone's grandma for selling DoTerra is not helping that person see the light. In fact, it is probably pushing them further away from you.
5. Teach and show your clients that they are enough and that they are "doing fitness right".
If you see a blatant predatory comment on someone's facebook post or photo, don't be afraid to comment after them "Hey Julie, you're just killing it in this photo. Keep doing what you're doing!". Reinforce to your clients that they are enough, just as they are.
The Diet Industry thrives on telling people that they are not enough and leading them to believe that they cannot trust themselves. It leads us down a path of self doubt so that we are more likely to open our wallets for help.
Give them ownership over their fitness journey and they're no longer "doing what a trainer says" but owning their actions and their activity. Having autonomy over their fitness allows them to stand on stronger ground to believe in it and defend it.
Number five is a doozy and it is the complex idea that I've dedicated my entire practice and career to. I developed a system and a two day workshop to help you do the same in your practice.
Possibly most importantly, do NOT let the concern trollsalespeople stop YOU, trainer, from doing what you are doing.
Keep sharing photos of your clients kicking ass.
Ultimately, what these companies are doing and the sales practices they are taking part in are NOT sustainable. The whole reason Fit2point0 even exists is because consumers are getting smarter and are able to make better informed decisions. They realize that this industry is full of extremes, which are usually the opposite of full health.
What we are doing is sustainable, future-proof and making the world a better place.
What they are doing is not.
End of story.
I recently did a real-time video Q&A for one of my favorite fitness groups on the internet.
During the Q&A session, a popular question that came up was "WTF with my deadlift?".
I made a video sharing what I believe to be the most foundational info for anyone looking to start deadlifting or to refine their deadlift form. It got such raving reviews within the group ("I've been seeing a trainer for months and haven't figured out the deadlift until I saw this video.", "Exactly what I needed!", "Beautiful cues!", "Can I please share this outside the group??") that I thought it might be good to share for a few reasons.
1. Watching deadlift instructional videos or reading step-by-step deadlift instructions are confusing and oftentimes lack focus. This video strips all that away.
2. Trainers or fitness-minded friends want to tell you all 10,000 cues at once, again making things rather overwhelming.
3. If you ARE a trainer and struggle with foundational cues for deadlifts (aka you have a hard time deciding on which of the 10,000 cues to start with ), these are them.
Check it out.
I received this email last week:
"Hi Michele, I am a plus size woman and want to know what programs you would recommend for someone interested in becoming a plus size personal trainer." -Kathryn
I have to be honest, I wasn't immediately sure what she was asking off the bat. Trainer certifications are largely based in knowledge of proper exercise form, safety and programming... but I couldn't for the life of me think of any one certification that requires its candidates to maintain a certain "look".
It does go without saying that there are certain pressures which exist in this industry that make us professionals feel like we have to fit a certain mold, sure. But Body Positive Fitness Alliance is going against the grain of this industry by nature. We stand for making fitness accessible and approachable for everyone regardless of where they are in life and we urge the world to take pride in what they can do vs. what they look like.
We've found in our BPFA Trainer Resource group that what we are instilling in our clients directly carries over to how we lead our own lives. After all, we as trainers are just as human as our clients. We feel the pressures from society to be smaller and to take up less space the same as they do. We understand the struggle of being judged for what we look like and not who we are or what we can do. We can argue that we even experience these pressures more than the average person because this industry is vain in nature (the whole reason we are working to change it!).
So Kathryn- I've polled my amazing group of trainers around the world who are working toward making the fitness industry a more positive place. Here are some of the answers we came up with for you:
"So do we wonder which colleges are best for plus sized students? Um. No. Any course you take to make you a CERTIFIED trainer. 6 years with NASM and none of the applications ask for weight or size." -Michele Tolman
"As a plus-size RD, I have garnered respect regardless of my size based on a few principles - 1) I know my shit, 2) I'm anti-fragile, 3) I'm transparent about my own journey which creates a strong connection with my clients and a deep level of understanding. I am sure I have critics, but I can't hear them over the sound of everyone else who loves me... " -Brenda Murdock
"I have always been a plus sized personal trainer/fitness pro, and I have never once been question because I know my shit and I carry myself in a way that lets people know that I'm serious. I don't doubt myself and it shows!!" -Kristy Fassio
"If you look at any of the big training certs, none of them come with some sort of size qualifications. I've always found this idea that we need different programming for someone who is plus sized perplexing - and when I see it in fitness journals, it's eye roll inducing... Give people the information and support they need and most of them won't give a hoot about what size you are." -Nikki Naab-Levy
"I'm very clear about my journey. Struggles and all. Insecurities in my appearance and the "ideal trainer look". It took me a long time to let my fucks go. This community has helped with that. Suggest they do a program like NASM and to surround themselves with folks like us. I always tell my clients 'I'm trying to be the healthiest version of myself too'. It's not about taking up less space. As we know. It's about health, sustainability and movement. In most cases you HAVE to 'walk the walk, talk the talk"' but in no way do you need an ideal look." -Danielle Lohmann
"Finding folks like Erin Brown and Go Kaleo - Amber Rogers made me think about my own internal dialogue, and there were some changes I needed to make. I don't want to hand my baggage to a client!" -Megan Martin
"...in my opinion your size takes a backseat to your coaching skills and anatomical knowledge. When I took my Eating Psych Coach training, I learned so much about how to coach people. How to hold space for them. How to listen. How to love them without judgment. If you can focus on doing those things, you can't miss. My teacher once told me, 'you only need to be one step ahead of your client in order to help them'. It's true." -Cyndi Springford
"I waited seven years to become a trainer because I was worried about having 'the right look'. There have been times I've faced very open discrimination and criticism for not looking the part, and have seen the same happen to other female trainers (not the guys, seems their appearance is irrelevant).
But the longer I'm in the industry and experience all the variety it involves, the more I realize that there's a whole world outside that Insta trainer. It's just hard for those not in the industry to see when that's how trainers are seen in media."- Bree-Danielle Wyatt
"I faced all of these same struggles and self doubts! All I can say is DO IT. Passion is the first step. So what if someone doesn't want to work with you/hire you because you're not the norm? You probably wouldn't jive with them anyways. Like I said, the more I've been able to share my knowledge, which came through my certification as well as personal knowledge, the less people seem to care. I try not to let any insecurities influence how I act or present myself and in return, people don't see them. They see someone who is caring, accepting, knowledgable and willing to help." -Megan Pratt
John Madden, arguably the best football coach of all time and one of the most successful individuals in the football industry.
Never coached a single losing season and has an estimated net worth of $200 million.
If you want to help others, go out and do it.
Learn as much as you can, be the best possible coach you can be.
If you're wondering what the trainers who contributed above look like and how their appearance plays into their professional lives, like us on facebook to follow our new series debuting this week called What a Trainer Looks Like.
Ever wonder what it feels like to be a "rogue" trainer on the outside of mainstream, extreme, "quick and easy fix", aesthetics driven fitness?
You would think that an international band of trainers who are working to help people accept themselves where they are at and then work toward better overall health while looking out for mental and emotional fitness is something that would be in demand.
Unfortunately, the majority of the population is still so indoctrinated to believe that our bodies' relationship with gravity is a factor that holds more "weight" than any other mental, emotional or physical health metric.
I have news for you- weight is not really all that important, not in the grand scheme of things, and ESPECIALLY not when we find ourselves sacrificing our mental, physical and emotional health to reach a certain number on the scale.
There are a lot of trainers, fitness professional and health professionals out there who agree with me. We are all in a group together on facebook and have open dialogues daily about how to shift what the world views as "fit" so that fitness returns to its original mission of FULL HEALTH.
I want to share a conversation we had last week about how it feels when a client doesn't think we're doing a "good job" because the general public is too indoctrinated by the diet and fitness industry. The majority of the population believes that their primary "fitness" goal should be to see the number on the scale go down and that it should happen at a too-rapid-to-be-healthy-or-sustainable pace.
These trainers are all a #partofthesolution. Remember, we're the good guys, looking out for you and your health on every level.
Jarlath Hynes, Grassroots Fitness:
It is VERY hard not to take it personally when a client looks at you patronizingly & tells you "but I read that blah,blah, blah is the magic solution..." or "my friend in the quick-fix, transformation gym has lost xlbs by eating/drinking/avoiding certain product", why don't you know this stuff?"
And interestingly, I have had clients drop off & return, maybe deep down everyone knows the real solutions but can't help being tempted by the latest 'fad'.
Cyndi Springford, Founder of Love Your Body Project Coaching and Consulting:
I ask them WHY they want to lose weight. If they say it's to "be healthy", I continue asking questions like "what do you think healthy is? How do you think your weight is holding you back? What do you imagine will be different about your life when you lose weight and you have the body that you want?"
I want to help them be the happiest, healthiest and best possible version of themselves...and that may be able to happen WITHOUT THEM LOSING A SINGLE POUND.... I am at the stage of my career where I am willing to let go of a client if I have to. I don't take it personally anymore. It just means they want something I no longer provide. I can live with that.
Lana Simmons, co-founder of The L and producer of of The L Podcast:
And you know its going to be more pain for them until they are ready to let dieting/quick fix go.
Michele Tolman, Moxie Personal Fitness:
When people see my before/after they get all excited like I found the magic pill. Then when I say it took three years to lose 115 lbs. They get disappointed.
Jennifer Campbell, Mama Lion Strong:
Yep. It's so depressing.
Bri Battles, MS, CSCS:
It's like getting dumped...I try not to act like I'm desperate for them to stay, but at the same time, they really don't know what they're losing and I want them to see the light! Haha! I really do just try to shift the focus to the people who have bought in, and let that speak volumes for me.
Katie Feeley, Strength Coach, ACE-CPT:
I'm currently working with a few people who have included aesthetic targets in their goals. The reality is that it takes so much time to see results. I try to tell people, "Look at me. Look at this body. 5 years. And I'm still working on it." Sometimes I'm more muscular, sometimes less. Sometimes I'm heavier, sometimes lighter. But building the physique you want (or think you want) takes time, tweaking, more time, more tweaking.
I find this particularly difficult with my smaller women because they want fast results! The smaller you are, the harder it is to make changes - loss takes longer and lean gains take longer. And getting people to see the small things can be helpful along the way - clothes fitting differently, feeling stronger, more energy, etc. But it's so hard. And when people don't see the results they expect, rather than make tweaks (required for long term), they want to quit.
Sean Flanagan, Sean Flanagan Fitness and Nutrition:
I think many times they come to me because they like the IDEA of doing things the right way, but really still want the "fast" way.
So really what we need to do if we want our clients to realize we are NOT nuts and we DO care for their health, is figure out a way to undermine this:
How do we sell reasonability, sell FULL health... and really drive home the importance of health metrics much further beyond our bodies' relationships with gravity?
Bryan Wither, trainer:
It's a hard thing to sell. What's worked fairly well for my business is cutting at flashy pseudoscience gimmicks. It's hard to be so constantly negative though.
Michele Burmaster, Surf City Fit Club:
It's a sad state of affairs when shifting the goal from weight lost on the scale in a short period of time to "let's get healthy and strong" is "being negative". Does it then make US the negative ones, the bearers of bad news when we have to burst the magic diet bubble (and truly doing our clients more service than trying to sell them a magic diet)?
I do end up coming across as a stick in the mud sometimes. But I have my integrity.
How do we initiate the first contact WITHOUT 6-day- weightloss promises,'fitspo' pics, etc etc? This is quite challenging. It's easy to end up constantly being 'negative' dismissing the bad stuff rather then promoting positive messages.
Matthew Beals, NSCA, CPT, OKC North:
Maybe make your case and then let it go. I feel my job is to give people work appropriate to their situation, and I can still do that even if somebody is on a stupid diet. So I'd rather play the supportive one and have one more chance to steer them in a better direction.
Annie Brees, Strong Brees:
I have clients who feel better/stronger and believe they are doing all the right things, and the scale is going down at a moderate and healthy pace. But it's just not fast enough for them sometimes.
I feel on the border of losing some clients sometimes because... I will teach them habits, I will teach them scientific fact, I will answer their "does xyz work or is it a myth" question with evidence, with studies, I will tell them exactly what to do to build good habits, I will exhaustively explain to them a calorie deficit, I will teach them about body recomp.
But since I won't give them a meal plan (designed for effectiveness in .001% of the population, setting them up for failure).... they think I'm failing them.
You just have to trust that if you keep being a good coach and encourage your clients, they will see the light eventually. They might leave and come back, but they'll figure it out. I feel like some trainers just don't care, so they sell the client whatever they want (or make something up) because they can... regardless of what these clients decide to do, you can feel good that you maintained your integrity and did the best you could by them.
I've been told by a few people in my group that they're happy that I'm not selling them the quick fix, like a lot of other trainers are (with their f***ing pyramid scheme shakes and powders and and and....).
But the ones that join and expect to miraculously become skinny in a week or stronger because of one class, well those people quit pretty quick. And guess what, they go to the trainer who sells them on more than just fitness. "Welcome, but these shakes. Sell these shakes. Oh, and here's some fitness too."
Debbie Hatch, Family & F.I.T.:
To TRY to sell reasonability, I talk to clients about all of the quick fixes they've already tried. Did any of them work? Did any of them do anything for you except spend your money? None of those worked before - what makes you think they would work now?
Danielle Lohmann, Lifestyle U:
I figure the right people will find their way to me. I don't promote my own body. I promote my skill and my beliefs. I take food pics but of ALL the food. I shout out triumph of my clients. My clients also boast on their Facebook pages about OUR training methods and heathy habits they've learned with me.
I think the people that want quick fixes will find the "predators"
I've definitely lost fitness students because they aren't patient and want a quick fix. I speak out against the quick fix diets and have definitely lost students because of my straight-forward nature. But I have to be true to what I believe in. I focus on health and happiness, not six-pack abs. Does it hurt my business? Maybe. Does it help my business? Maybe!!
Carolyn Gibson Channell, Fabulous Fitness:
The first thing I do is ask them about previous times they lost weight and the methods they used. I ask them how sustainable that was and how long they think they could maintain the results this time if they used those same methods.
Then I ask them how willing they are to totally change their lifestyle starting today, just change everything in one day, do what I say, eat what I eat, live like I live (or like the girl in the photo they say they want to be like)...basically are you willing to change who you are and what you do and how you think to just BE that other image.
No? Oh. Okay. How about you keep doing what makes your life awesome and you just learn a couple tools to enhance the awesome that you feel?
I'd love to be the size that I was in some of my smaller photos, but the reality was I was not building myself up, I was tearing myself down.
Be MORE, not LESS. Applies to habit change as well. MORE veggies, MORE lean protein, MORE weight on the bar, MORE steps per day.
Not "no this" "none of that" "less of this". etc
Matthew Glynn, Peak Fitness:
Plenty of clients who I feel like I need to convince over and over again that 1200 calories is not enough for their daily run / aerobic training PLUS resistance training.
On top of that, actually trying to obtain new clients while promoting sustainability? Tough. Well worth it, but tough. Each time I'm upfront with a client regarding how we do things, we either lose them then and there or keep them for a very long time.
Make reasonability the social norm and move body weight away from self worth.
^THAT is certainly our Big Picture Goal at the Body Positive Fitness Alliance. Does it sound good to you? It might feel impossible today, but look at this above group of trainers, they're working day in and out to make that a reality. Will you join us?
Trainers- this blog is for you.
A question arose in our private Body Positive Fitness Alliance trainer resource group yesterday about where the line is with regards to scope of practice and offering nutritional plans to clients who request them.
First and foremost, understand that everyone has their own baggage (for lack of a better term).
Baggage includes socioeconomic status, prior health (mental, physical and emotional) issues, family health, work scenario, family situations, past "diet" defeats, prior traumatic experiences, possible history of disordered eating and many many more variables.
Disordered eating may or may not include a diagnosed eating disorder, but 'disordered eating' refers to any time food or the thought of food causes one emotional stress in the slightest- shifting focus away from the innate human need to fuel our bodies and toward what society thinks/perceives/wants/demands from us with regards to the relationships between body image and food.
With that said, here is where the Body Positive FItness Alliance stands on trainers offering nutritional advice:
#1. We will not ever assume one has the desire to receive nutritional advice unless it is expressly stated by the individual.
#2. We will never assume that one desires our fitness services in an effort to change their aesthetics and/or for fat/weight loss unless expressly stated by the individual.
#3. We will never assume we can begin to perceive or understand one's baggage that they bring to the table (see above) and we understand that requesting an individual eat certain foods at certain times of day has a better chance of not accommodating that baggage than accommodating it.
#4. We understand that habits lead to more positive overall change and that habit change is largely focused on the unique individual and their baggage.
#5. We will continue to educate ourselves on evidence-based science and peer reviewed studies and findings with regards to nutrition. In this way, we are able answer questions will full confidence. "Is starvation mode a thing?" "Does it matter how much protein I eat?" etc.
Because although it is not our place to offer this advice unsolicited, these questions will arise. And for the greater good it is important that we are up to speed on what is true and factual.
This is a HUGE differentiator between what WE do and what other fitness professionals are choosing to do by spouting things they've never taken the time to research themselves. It's also far more admirable to your client and for the greater good to admit "I don't know the answer to that question at this time, but I'll be sure to research, consult with some of my colleagues and get back to you" vs. being a part of the problem by perpetuating false information. This is also a great use of our trainer resources group. A lot of us have a good grasp on the most current research- so ask us!
We believe that the best possible course of action for an individual who requests nutritional advice is to EMPOWER. This means- starting at explaining what a calorie deficit is and how it works. 90% of individuals looking to lose fat/weight do not know or understand this concept due to the mystification by the diet and weight loss industry (they work hard to make sure people DON'T get it).
Explain to them how to find their TDEE. My colleagues and myself agree that this is the best possible tool available for doing so http://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced . After working with thousands of individuals and realizing that the only way to "test the math" in this situation is by giving it an honest go for 6-8 weeks, we've found this calculator to have the most accurate results.
Help them understand that restriction leads to binging which leads to more restriction and this is the cycle that the diet industry loves to keep us in.
And finally, allow them to explore what works best for them. Help them to understand that consistency and community are two great keys to success.
The best possible thing you can do as a trainer is empower your clients to feel independent (very radical in an industry who depends on repeat customers, I know). Empower them to trust themselves and they will get far better and more sustainable results than they ever could with whatever plan we'd put them on.
The worst possible thing you can do is assume you know how to navigate their baggage and try to build them an eating plan around it. That's what the dietitians are for.
Like Body Positive Fitness Alliance on facebook to stay up to date on the rapidly growing #fit2point0 movement.
"I don't feel comfortable going to the gym because of how I look."
Because of the way the media highlights women and their bodies (for better or for worse), it is easy to attach gender to that statement and assume it applies to females only. But the truth of the matter is 47% of males have admitted to having body image issues themselves (comparable to the percentage of women who've reported having body image issues).
You may have heard the story of Romario Dos Santos Alves who wanted huge, muscular arms so badly that he injected a mixture of oil, painkillers and alcohol into his biceps to make them appear as large as possible. The result was the hardening of muscle so severe that Alves faced double arm amputation.
Alves hasn't discussed what lead to his unhealthy obsession with the size of his upper body, but I can't help to imagine that Alves might've avoided this entire health catastrophe had he had someone in his life to intervene, to help him recognize the pressures he was feeling to "get huge", to refer him to a qualified therapist to combat that obsession, and to help him take pride in what his body can DO, vs. what it looks like it can do.
If there are male victims of the current pressures and extremes in the fitness industry who are risking their life to appear strong and fit, then where are all the men in our Body Positive Fitness movement?
Less than 10% of trainers in our resource group are male.
Perhaps male trainers feel comfortable in their "mainstream fitness" roles. Perhaps they feel the demand is enough to sustain their careers and they'll continue along the mainstream for as long as they can serving the same 5% of Americans who currently hold a gym membership (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, 2014.).
But wait, one of the more ripped and "mainstream" trainers that I know, Rolando Real, is riding this body positivity train because he sees the need for it and the greater good it can cause. He also acknowledges the potential damages that can occur in mainstream fitness.
"...my motivation comes from a place of strength and vitality, more than from a place of fear, guilt, and shame. This is why I don’t [coach for] physique competition prep, nor do I encourage clients to focus too much on stupid numbers. I have been helping women with their fitness and body recomposition goals for many, many years, and trust me... [ones] life problems and emotional struggles are not because of the scale number, your body fat percentage, or your thick thighs. Same with males. Obsessively focusing on physique changes tends to either exacerbate preexisting body dysmorphia and eating disorders, or create them.
I’m NOT saying that you should not seek to change your body composition. I would be the biggest hypocrite if I did. That’s basically my business: helping people to achieve physique improvements in a healthy and sustainable way, without the psychological shitstorm that it usually creates."
Less than 5% of members at Surf City Fit Club are male.
It's not that we don't provide great workouts- just last night a member of mine by the name of Matt Apodaca PR'd on his deadlift at 215lbs after training for just three months. Our environment is the pilot gym for the Body Positive Fitness Alliance, so where are all the men?
Matt said he loves our environment and trains with us because our trainers have empathy and truly wish to help people get better and stronger.
He said at other gyms, he sees a lot of improper form and misguided programming. He said he likes to avoid the "bro factor" and just come out and lift, without worry of showoffs. Matt says "I am so impressed each week with how hard [SCFC members] work, and have seen how they all stand a little taller each week".
Are we to believe that there are not ANY other males out there who desire this type of fitness environment?
Meet Scott Jordan.
Eight months ago, at 698lbs he was told by his doctor that he was staring death in the face due to health complications associated with his bodyweight. At a consultation for gastric bypass, he was told that if he elected for surgery, without a lifestyle change, the surgery would easily be negated and all of the weight would come right back on.
Scott's wife was lucky enough to know Body Positive Fitness Alliance certified trainer Danielle Lohmann. Before deciding on surgery as a last resort, Danielle helped Scott get moving- and together they saved his life.
With Scott, aesthetics were his last concern. He wanted to live.
After about three months of working with Danielle and making habit changes leading to sustainable results, Danielle and Scott decided it was time to hit the "big gym" with better equipment to allow them to lift heavy. Danielle was sure to empathetically let Scott know that there was a good chance they'd get negative looks and attitudes just from BEING in that gym and Scott responded with "They'll stare.... and then they'll know my name and I still won't know theirs".
Scott writes in a recent blog post that men need body positive fitness, too. "... for the guys that are uncomfortable going to a gym full of muscle heads, for the guys who think that fitness is a goal they will never achieve, for the guys that think so little of themselves, for the guys that think the journey is just too big."
Scott is now 100lbs down from his starting weight, his strength increases by the week and his endurance can rival individuals a fraction of his size.
There is a great wave of change happening in the fitness industry. Consumers are getting smarter. Men and women are feeling more empowered. Tons of individuals no longer want a superficial fitness experience. People want full health, they want longevity, and they want Body Positive Fitness Environments. In a recent survey, I've uncovered over 300 cities worldwide where the demand for body positive fitness exists.
95% of Americans currently don't have an active gym membership. There is an entire market of individuals who want to be fit, but don't have an environment where they feel they can become their best selves. The Body Positive Fitness Alliance is working hard to change that. If you're a fitness professional and you're ready to reach these men and women, join us, break free from the mold and start becoming a #partofthesolution.