How to Find a Size-Friendly Personal Trainer – SELF

Posted: September 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm


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My journey to becoming an athlete and ultimately a personal trainer was unexpectedly ignited by meeting my first running coach. Her name was Chris, and she changed my life forever because of her size-friendly fitness approach. Chris coached me without ever mentioning my weight, body size, diets, or the looming bikini season. She always approached our sessions from a position of athletic performance and never screamed out crazy phrases such as Sweat is just your fat crying!

Thank God!

I had experienced all kinds of #thinspo fitness leadership, and although I didnt know any different at the time, weight-focused fitness didnt work for me. I always felt an underlying tone of shame because I had such a hard time making it to bikini season in the right body. My fat cried a lot, but it never went away, and in the eyes of many of my fitness coaches, I wasnt succeeding because my body wasnt leaning down.

It wasnt until I met Chris that I realized that perhaps fitness leadership didnt have to be about laying down the pressure to slim down, get ripped, and look hot! Through her leadership, I realized that just maybe, I could kick ass athleticallyin this body. (What?!)

Size-friendly training was new territory for me, but I immediately responded, and the rest is history.

Through my business, Ive found that many women approach trainers and inquire apologetically, often feeling inadequate about their current health status and fitness condition. The first thing I tell them is that reaching out to make a change is a power move. Remember: You are the one hiring the trainer, and you should approach this process like any good CEO would hire for top management. It is OK to vet your trainers and ask them hard questions. Its important to know what you require in a trainer, and from there you can craft an interview.

What are your views on diets?

Do you have experience with size-diverse clients?

How do you make accommodations for larger-bodied clients?

Do you understand the barriers people of size face when approaching fitness? How do you help clients with this?

Its also OK to ask to view their facility and ask for references; you are the boss, and the people who work for you must be the best.

The trainer-client relationship is an intimate one, so finding the right fit is absolutely essential for success.

I have been to trainers who never mention nutrition and others whove prescribed 1,200-calorie meal plans and thought bread was the devil. This left me starving and then ultimately binging and ultimately feeling like a failure. A size-friendly trainer wont be focused on weight reduction and wont measure performance and success solely by a scale. He or she will be more focused on strength and fitness performance and will use other markers for success.

Size-friendly trainers will have the experience to back them up. Theyve thought through every exercise in your program and have knowledge of and experience with the mechanics of larger-bodied clients. For example, they wont ask you to perform difficult moves like burpees because they know that someone with weight in their mid-front will find this exercise difficult to maneuver. Size-friendly trainers dont learn this mid-workout when they realize you cant do it; they know it in advance and have a library of modifications ready in their back pocket so they can make every workout feel like a great success.

Not every coach or trainer will have personal experience with understanding that fitness can be intimidating, but there should be some understanding that for some people, just showing up is a huge success in and of itself. Trainers should be compassionate and understanding that fitness culture can feel unwelcoming to many. They should take extra steps to make your session a positive experience. They should meet you at the door with a warm welcome, deliver a well-thought-out plan, ask if you are comfortable, and never push you beyond your limits.

I recently signed up for a fitness app and entered in all my particulars. It didn't ask me about my fitness goals, but I was assigned the Fat Blaster program. Who said anything about me wanting to blast fat? Ive had similar experiences with trainers; they assume, because of our conditioned fitness culture, that I am there to lose weight. A size-friendly trainer will never assume and will take the time to listen to your goals and help you achieve them. If you have a trainer who decides your goals for you, its time to let him or her go.

As trainers, we are schooled in the Rating of Perceived Exertion as a method to look for cues in the physical strain a client is experiencing. However, there are many cues to look for beyond that. I find when people get really quiet, it's a sign that they are taxed and at their limitand that this is a good time for a check-in. I look for grimacing facial expressions, and I take note of facial coloring and the amount they are sweating and breathing. Its really important as a trainer to manage the load put on clients. A size-friendly trainer will understand that doing a workout with a heavier load is more strenuous than the same routine would be for lighter clients. It would be like asking a 150-pound woman to do her squats holding 100 pounds in weights; this load must be taken into consideration. If youre being worked too hard without any awareness from the trainer, it may be that he or she is relating the workout to his or her own fitness level or body size, not yours.

Motivation never comes from shame, pain, or strain. Your body, at every size, is amazing and the fact youre in the gym giving everything youve got deserves nothing but positivity. The body-positive movement has been fighting for years to allow women to accept and embrace their bodies. The idea that you need to be "ready" because bikini season is coming is actually a very cruel way to motivate. Shaming motivation plays on the pressures women already feel and negates the tireless work of the movement. Your trainer should elevate and celebrate who you are and the amazing body you live in. Anything less should get kicked to the curb, immediately.

Now, lets kick some ass in the body you have.

Louise Green is a plus-size trainer, founder of the fitness program Body Exchange, and author of Big Fit Girl: Embrace the Body You Have. Follow: Instagram @LouiseGreen_BigFitGirl, Twitter @Bigfitgirl, Facebook @louisegreen.bigfitgirl

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How to Find a Size-Friendly Personal Trainer - SELF

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Written by grays |

September 6th, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Personal Success