Updated: Oct 8
As a fitness coach and personal trainer, I never assume a client’s goal is weight loss but quite a few women bring up the topic themselves. So it should come as no surprise, when asked to write about self-love for a magazine I am a columnist for, my thoughts jump straight to one particular form of self-love: body acceptance. As I set pen to paper to write the column, I thought to myself “this is a great opportunity to clarify that my goal as a fitness coach is to help women enhance health and overall fitness, not to obtain one particular type of body.”
Sure, sculpted muscles are often a by-product of our workouts, but I also want to help women let go of whatever preconceived notions they have of what a body “should” look like. That’s why I have loved pairing my work as a personal trainer with teaching pole dancing classes. I believe pole dancing helps liberate women from body image issues by turning the focus away from appearance and onto doing something extraordinary with their bodies, no matter their shape or size. After submerging myself for nearly a decade in pole dance culture, I can say for certain that sexy is absolutely not a body size - it’s an attitude, an air of confidence. Women are absolutely empowered when they learn what their body is capable of and it shows.
Pole dance is reframing the wellness dialogue from aesthetics to function. It is so important to expand our definition of health in this way because fitness has a tendency to ebb and flow over a lifetime. I gained a lot of weight in my early 20’s when I was taking 18 college credits and working two part time jobs. I was working on other life goals at the time, and I came back to working on fitness as soon as I could, but there was literally not enough time for me to fit it all in during that crazy time of my life. Different seasons of life bring different seasons of fitness. Doesn’t that make perfect sense that it would?
I am certain no one can better relate to these cyclical seasons than every mother who has ever walked the earth. Forget the understandable norm for workouts to take a backseat to childcare. What about the myriad of changes bodies go through to grow little humans in the belly! Let the fact that we can carry life inside of us serve as a reminder that we have miracles in our body, and that should be celebrated!
Whatever season of life you are in, my recommendation as a personal trainer is to just do the best you can. There is no need to be hard on yourself if you can’t currently fit into your favorite jeans from high school. Give yourself a break and nestle into a comfy pair of leggings instead – they are in fashion because we, as a society, have wised up and know that skinny isn’t always healthy, however self-love is always part of wellness.
Besides, accepting your body doesn’t mean that it might stay this way or that way forever. You aren’t throwing the towel in on fitness all together. You are simply accepting yourself as a multi-faceted being striving for the delicate balance to uphold all of your needs and goals, yes?
So, love your body for what it is. Appreciate it for what it can do. Honor it by listening to what it needs. And let it take up space, because you, my friend, belong here. XOXO, Mindy
Mindy is the founder of Kalispell's Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase "fitness is fun" is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. Mindy is also a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health and wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.