She walks into the studio averting her eyes from the mirror stretching across the front of the room. Dipping her chin she glances discreetly at her companions for the next 60 minutes.
Refreshingly diverse for the boutique fitness world, she feels a little bit of her unease subside as she notices these other people are of all different ages and shapes. She takes a deep breath and finds her place at the barre with her weights.
She is here because she doesn’t like how she looks this week. Her stomach feels too soft, her thighs feel a little too tight in her jeans and she has told herself if she didn’t work out today she is an absolute failure.
I believe this is how most women think in relation to their mind and body health. My personal aim is to be a part of leading a movement that rejects the former and leads this generation into a health revolution.
I grew up doing the aerobic videos by Denis Austin with my mom in the middle of the family room. You know, the scrunchie, onesie, leg warmer wearing, 90’s fitness bombshell.
Never did I think I would be a fitness instructor and fall so in love with connecting with other people through movement. What I do as a Barre instructor is a far cry from those Denise Austin videos, the fitness world has changed so much since the early 90’s. What has not changed, however, is how people are always looking for the next best thing to improve their appearance, and how they choose to motivate themselves into that fitness class or to start that online work out–Shame.
Although my mom was affirming towards me, she was unfairly critical towards herself in how she looked. The reason for not eating those chocolate candies or squeezing in another aerobics class was because she felt bad about herself and these actions were a sort of self punishment for former indulgences.
There are two things I have learned in my time as a fitness instructor: you are not as fat or ugly as you think you are and shame is the worst motivator. Seriously. There is a beautiful woman who is a regular client at my studio. She look so fit, I’m really not sure how old she is (I know she has grandkids so thats a clue).
One day I heard her say that she was so ready for class because she needed to lose five pounds. I actually laughed. How could she think that when I look at her and wonder if she is in better shape than anyone half her age?
The next week she sent the studio an email saying how much it encouraged her to be told that she looked beautiful. Just a simple affirmation lifted the lense she was seeing herself through.
You might think shaming yourself into working out is a good method because it’s worked before. Think objectively with me for a moment. Day after day a person wakes up and says to themselves, “Wow, I look like a turkey on Thanksgiving day” or maybe something a little more harsh, “I hate my body. I wish I looked like ____”.
If this person wakes up every morning and thinks these things, their thinking turns into believing and what they believe shows itself in how they behave. Someone who hates their body would not be able to sustainably care for their body throughout their entire life. They might succeed in a short-lived, extreme diet but they will fall off the train once again when it’s all over because they don’t really believe they can really achieve a healthy lifestyle. Shame says once a failure, always a failure.
I believe grace, determination and community is the antidote to this breakdown in fitness culture.
Group fitness has a reputation for being a corny excuse for wearing your new favorite gym outfit while never having to break a sweat. My perception of group fitness completely changed when I began taking and instructing group fitness. Now, I think it is better to work out with others than to be alone. It’s built in accountability, support and affirmation that you are not alone in your health journey.
Community will pull you back up when you have fallen off the train. Grace will say try again after a bad day. Determination will lead you to the day you wake up and realize a healthy lifestyle is no longer a far off goal but a discipline you have forged. Find movement for the health of your soul, nourishment to give longevity to your body and don’t ever, ever do it alone.
Bio: Kendall Young is a Barre3 Instructor and Worship Leader who just moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona to start an exciting new journey with her fiancé. Follow Kendall on Instagram and Facebook.