A lot of people get their best ideas in the shower–I get most of my ideas when I’m running. Take this blog post, for example. I was spending some quality time with a treadmill at the kind of gym that features gray exercise machines lined up in rows as far as the eye can see. Not the most exciting place in the world to be. I put in my headphones to listen to my favorite running playlist and pretty soon my drab external world was replaced with an inner kaleidoscope of ideas, remixed conversations, and solutions to problems I’d been wrestling with for weeks.
I felt so inspired and wanted to write it all down. But…all I saw around me were drab, colorless humming machines. Fueled with endorphins, I wondered what gyms would be like if they offered people a creative outlet. I couldn’t possibly be the only person who feels energized to create after movement. Similarly, I know plenty of people who use movement to battle writer’s block, imposter syndrome, and other enemies of the creative mind. So, why do so many movement spaces feel closed off to creativity?
In most traditional fitness spaces, movement is considered to be an isolated activity. In a gym, you go there to use the equipment provided–treadmills, weights, and the like. In studios for dance, yoga, or group fitness, you go there to take a class on the modality being offered. In these spaces, you’re not exactly encouraged to stick around for social hour.
More importantly, movement in mainstream fitness is only deemed valuable if it feels like work. Creativity is about experimentation and play. There is a misconception that creativity and work are opposites, and that introducing something “fluffy” like arts and crafts to a gym space would devalue or undermine the goals of the space.
For body positive fitness professionals, incorporating creativity into a movement space brings incredible value to your clients and represents a radical shift away from movement as a boring, painful, or obligatory health practice. Instead, clients can start to see movement as a one of many tools available to them that work together to promote Full Health. Here are three ways that you can start to bring creativity into your movement practice:
Clear Some Creative Space
Think about areas of your movement space that could host a creativity station. This could be as simple as a chalkboard, a space on the lobby wall, or a window that you keep dry erase markers next to. You can make creative prompts part of the practice, like “Draw how [your movement practice] makes you feel” or “What’s your favorite animal?” or just leave writing tools out for clients. Waiting for class to start is a great time to doodle!
Pair Movement with Art
Consider hosting special events that intentionally bring movement and creativity together, like a paper plane circuit relay. You could also partner with local organizations that offer art classes to develop programming like movement-based acting classes, yoga paint nights, or Weights and Watercolors.
Personalize Client Progress
If your clients like to use progress tracking, encourage them to include non-numerical ways of sharing their achievements. A journal that includes writing, drawing, stickers, or painting can help foster the relationship between movement and creativity. This can also help clients learn new ways to tell the story of their progress in ways that numbers don’t always capture.
What story is your company telling? Are you effectively communicating your company’s values? Do you practice the values you promote? In Expansive Marketing Practices, Kat Horzempa will explore ways to authentically communicate with the communities you serve through expansive marketing practices
Kat Horzempa (she/they) is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Operations of Body Positive Fitness a queer-led, fat-centered hybrid movement company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Kat is actively dedicated to building fat-liberated, anti-racist, gender-affirming expansive spaces for joyful movement. An administrative leader with a specialization in sales and marketing, Kat has spent over a decade in operations management in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Their work has spanned the fitness, arts, education, manufacturing, and tertiary sectors.
Body Positive Fitness (@BodyPositiveFitness_) is a home for folks excluded from or unwelcome in mainstream fitness spaces—no matter your size, gender, disability or fitness level. Both online and in-person, Body Positive Fitness offers group classes, group training, personal training, running club, workshops and free community events, including a monthly book club hosted by Kat which highlights books from the body positive and fat liberation movements. In addition to being an ant-diet advocate, Kat is passionate about performing arts and has played many roles on and off stages in Canada and Spain.
Movement Break & Discussion Around What Toxic Fitness Is & Isn’t
with Vysh Sivakumaran, CPTN-PT
Vysh (vai-sh) (she/her) is a certified strength coach, trauma informed yoga instructor, & a fitness industry leader in the Toronto community — working to create inclusive, body neutral, and accessible fitness, through 1:1, group, and corporate services within her online fitness community, Fitness in Place (FIP). With her powerlifting background and quick adaptation at the start of the pandemic, she was awarded Canfitpro’s Fitness Professional of the Year Award. She advocates passionately for representation in the industry for South Asian women, but more broadly, aims to be a voice for all people who may face barriers in the wellness. (Follow Vysh at @vy_she_lifts , @Fitness_In_Place, or on Linked in: https://issuu.com/canfitpro/docs/digital-jan-feb-22_layout/24)
Landmines, manmakers, skull crushers, butt blasters, battle rope, boot camp, etc… Many fitness terms sound violent and intimidating. Taking the time to notice what terms in our own practices invoke unnecessary violence is an opportunity to develop language that more accurately describes the actual exercises. Better descriptions = more clarity. Increasing clarity reduces intimidation and clients that are less intimidated are more likely to stick around. Yay retention!
Have you switched up any terms in your practice? What was that experience like?
Are you a FitPro working to make the industry more accessible for all people? Join BPFA Inclusive FitPros! Our Learning Community exists to make meaningful connections between likeminded fitness professionals. Make friends, ask questions, and participate in continuing education. We’re here to be your fitness family that celebrates all bodies!
Business skills workshops led by industry trailblazers, body-positive fitness demos, and social time to network. Everything we do has hands-on components and action items so you are empowered to make concrete change right away!
Presentation and Movement Topics
“5 Ways FitPros Can Utilize Intuitive Eating with Clients” with Leah Tsui , MS, RDN, LDN
“Deconstructing the Fitness Industrial Complex” With Authors Justice Williams and Damali Fraiser
“Friendly Competition: Creating a Fitness Enviroment that is Both Competitive and Welcoming” with Katie Feeley and Laura Vineyard
We’d love to work with you to create a mutually beneficial partnership. In exchange, we are providing various levels of exposure and access to a large and committed audience in the inclusive fitness community. Check out our 2023 Sponsorship Packet.
#TrainerTip – Don’t assume every new client you meet has weight loss goals. Really it’s best not to assume anything about your new clients. Talk with them, ask them questions, learn what they’re here for, and challenge yourself to stay out of the habit of making quick judgements.
Would you like more education about responsible scope of practice for trainers around the topic of eating disorders?
The traditional fitness industry is saturated with businesses fighting over the same small percentage of people who fit the mold of what fitness “should look like”. As more and more participants and pros realize that fitness can and should be accessible to all people, we’re finding a dramatic increase in the potential market. Clients who see themselves thoughtfully considered become loyal customers. By sponsoring the BPFA Inclusive FitPro Summit, your brand will be in front of an amazing group of FitPros in the US and Canada that are already connected to this burgeoning market of loyal shoppers/clients.
We’d love to work with you to create a mutually beneficial partnership. In exchange, we are providing various levels of exposure and access to a large and committed audience in the inclusive fitness community. Additionally, BPFA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so financial contributions from US entities are tax deductible. Please see the attached sponsorship package for details.
We rely on sponsorships like yours to make this event possible. To lock in your sponsorship package, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org