3 Ways to Use Creativity in Your Movement Practice

3 Ways to Use Creativity in Your Movement Practice

By Kate Herald Browne, BPFA Board Member

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.

Come to the BPFA Inclusive FitPro Summit and Get to Connect with Kate!

Register for the BPFA Inclusive FitPro Summit
Trainer Tip – Many Fitness Terms sound violent…Try switching to more Peaceful and Accurate words when Possible.

Trainer Tip – Many Fitness Terms sound violent…Try switching to more Peaceful and Accurate words when Possible.

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!


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Trainer Tip – Revisit your space periodically. Is it safe for all bodies?

Trainer Tip – Revisit your space periodically. Is it safe for all bodies?

#TrainerTip – Revisit your space periodically with fresh eyes. Is it physically safe for all bodies? Are there any places where people might trip or get caught on a piece of equipment? Is it tidy with the equipment all put away regularly? Is there enough space between racks so folks in larger bodies can pass through with ease? Do you have any heavy equipment is a tight spot that might encourage clients to pick it up with poor form? And so on…

When clients come into our spaces, they are spending a lot of their mental awareness on getting used to a new place and they don’t have much left to notice a tripping hazard etc. It’s our job as trainers and gym owners to make it hard for them to get hurt just walking around. It’s also our responsibility to set up clear expectations for how to use the equipment and navigate the space safely from their first day.

What actions have you taken or protocols have you put in place to make your space safer for all bodies? Need suggestions? Ask your clients if they have ideas or send us a message. We’re happy to help brainstorm! info@bodypositivefitness.org

Friday is the LAST DAY to SAVE $50 with the EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT when you register for the BPFA Inclusive FitPro Summit! We’re bringing together fitness professionals of any movement discipline who are transforming the health and fitness industry into a space that is welcoming and inclusive for all bodies. At Summit you can expect business skills workshops led by industry trailblazers, inclusively minded fitness demos, and social time to network. May 19-21st in Toronto, Ontario and online.


#EightPillars #FitnessProfessionals #FitProEducation #nasm #cpt #nasmcpt #inclusivefitnesspractices #InclusiveFitness #inclusive #BodyPositive #WeightNeutral #FatPositive #BodyEquity #education #TrainerTips #Accessibility #BPFAeightpillars #BPFA #BodyPositiveFitnessAlliance

Trainer Tip – Your Time Matters.

Trainer Tip – Your Time Matters.

#TrainerTip – Your time matters. It can be easy to fall into the habit of always being available to your clients, but that’s tough to sustain long term. One way to protect your time is to develop a consistent set of boundaries with your scheduling and convey those expectations clearly with your clients. Need ideas? Send us a message, we’re happy to help brainstorm. Also, if you have great tips, feel free to share! (Info@bodypositivefitness.org)

Maybe you already find yourself in a bit of a scheduling hole and you’re not sure what to do? Perhaps you have a client that is consistently late or cancels last minute and you don’t know how to address the situation because you don’t want to lose that client? That anxiety is valid, but you have to take care of your personal resources as a coach to be able to keep doing your work. An easy way to broach the situation is to give the client a heads up with some lead time. For example, “Next month I’m updating my schedule and X policy will be changing to reflect that, if you have questions let me know!”.

Another reality is that there are clients that have unrealistic expectations for themselves. A client can feel like working out at 6 AM is what they “should do”, but every week they barely make it in and they’re groggy through the session. This is an opportunity talk with them and find out more about what their goals actually are and what’s practical within their schedule. By being empathetic experts, we can help clients build sustainable habits that add to their quality of life rather than detract from it.

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!

#EightPillars #FitnessProfessionals #FitProEducation #nasm #cpt #nasmcpt #inclusivefitnesspractices #InclusiveFitness #inclusive #BodyPositive #WeightNeutral #FatPositive #BodyEquity #education #TrainerTips #Accessibility #BPFAeightpillars #BPFA #BodyPositiveFitnessAlliance

#TrainerTip – Don’t Assume Every New Client You Meet Has Weight Loss Goals

#TrainerTip – Don’t Assume Every New Client You Meet Has Weight Loss Goals

#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?

Check out our online course: Empowering Fitness Professionals: Strengthening Confidence in the Detection, Referral, and Support of Clients with Eating Disorders. Staying in Your Lane with Knowledge and Compassion.

Course Objectives

-Learn actionable skills and strategies to recognize the signs of client eating disorders within our own practices and be empowered to take appropriate action based on scope of practice

-Connect with resources and communities

Your Instructors:

-Amanda Schlitzer Tierney, Amanda Tierney, MS, CSCS, CEDS-S. Director of Clinical Operations & Athletic Services atierney@becollaborativecare.com @rockthebalance

-Hannah Frazee, BS, ACSM-EP-C. Exercise Physiologist www.nourished-movement.com

-Taylor Larson, RD, CSSD, LD, CEDRD. Sports Dietitian at the Victory Program and Strong Roots Nutrition @strongrootsnutrition

#EightPillars #FitnessProfessionals #FitProEducation #nasm #cpt #nasmcpt #inclusivefitnesspractices #InclusiveFitness #inclusive #BodyPositive #WeightNeutral #FatPositive #BodyEquity #education #TrainerTips #Accessibility #BPFAeightpillars #BPFA #BodyPositiveFitnessAlliance


Image description: The text, “#TrainerTip: Don’t assume every new client you meet has weight loss goals.,” over a picture of a crossed-out scale.

New Year, New You? No Way!

New Year, New You? No Way!

By Kate Browne, Ph.D. (she/her)

Once every decade or so, I deep clean my closet and take a good, hard look at what I’ve been holding on to “just in case.” In past years, I held on to clothes that were too small for my current body, but since aspirational clothing is no longer part of my body positive worldview, I noticed that what I hold onto these days is more about the kind of athlete I once was and who I might be again.

In the very back of my closet, underneath all the women’s business casual separates from at least two career changes ago, I found the padded shorts I wore playing roller derby. My playing days in the early 2010s are long gone, but my skates, helmet, and safety gear remain in a box in the garage. (I’m afraid to look, but there’s probably still an old mouthguard in there, too.) That gear was expensive, which is one of the reasons it’s hard to let go of, but letting go of the stuff also means letting go of the dream that–like the very inspiration of the name–KateThulu might live again.

What I don’t have anymore are the VHS tapes, DVDs, and infomercial ab-roller-crunch-band-lift devices that I bought when exercise was something I thought I had to do. Every few months, I swore this time would be different. This time, I would get up at 5am every day to do my Insani90X boot camp class at the gym. This time, I would be the kind of person who makes fitness a priority no matter what.

It never happened.

I never set out to be a roller derby queen. I just wondered what would happen if I showed up to tryouts. I never set out to be a runner, either. I just signed up for an 8-week 5K training program. Giving myself permission to follow my curiosity led to experiences that changed my life in ways that no resolution could match.

This time of year, lots of gyms are pushing their 2022 programming with the idea that this time will be different. You will be different. But what if we approached the new year with curiosity instead of dogged determination? Could breaking the cycle be better for business?

Rachelle Clayton of MEE Active uses free, short-term programs as lead generators that help new clients get to know her. Positioned well, these programs lead to longer term memberships that give new clients “plenty of contact/connection with the instructor & community as they learn and share their own path with others.” Here are some tips based on other BPFA members’ experiences with short-term programming:

Keep Your Goals Aligned

Starting a new exercise routine can be intimidating for clients, especially if they come from an “all in” mindset. To meet this expectation, a lot of gyms offer “total body,” “full immersion,” and “complete transformation” new year programs. Trying to recreate that experience in the short-term can lead to burnout. Keeping your short-term offering aligned with your other services is efficient and helps clients see the progression. For example, an intro workshop can lead to a paid trial or directly into regular programming.

Make Them Pay…a Little

It seems counterintuitive, but people tend to be less invested in free services. Not charging any money can also lower the perceived value of your services if you are giving them away. Keep the price in line with your overall goals. It isn’t about offering more than it makes sense to give, it’s about making your services accessible for clients who need to know more before committing.

Connect with the Right Emotion

Every infomercial fitness program and “new year, new you” promo at the gym connects with the same emotion: longing. These programs offer hope that you’ll be able to escape your crummy life once you have visible abs. It doesn’t work that way, but by the time you’ve spent $99.99 on the app, it doesn’t matter anymore.

Curiosity is just as enticing and still gives new clients what they crave: a positive, inspiring vision for the future. Could this change my life? What if I were a person who tried this? Do I belong here? Short-term programs invite new clients to find out.

Marketing Fitness Programs

Emotional HookThis will change your life!Could this change your life?
Trigger Wordsnew, transformation, total, complete, whole, all, challenge, lifestyle, no excuses, worktry, find, connect, wonder, hope, learn, discover, future, first step, small steps, start, go, fun
Success Defined By…AchievementShowing Up