Meet Kate Browne! She is one of our early adopters and attended our Inaugural Two Day Workshop in Huntington Beach 2016 to become one of our first Affiliated Professionals. She will be our Keynote Speaker at our Two Day Workshop in Chicago, IL in October of this year.
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:
The post below was originally made on Disrupt Your Diet on March 18, 2015.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.
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:
Video yourself teaching an absolute beginner an exercise for the first time and use it for review. Analyze:
This past weekend I received a message from Megan Griffith, owner of Kinetic Fitness and Training, north of Charlotte in North Carolina:
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 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.