Crushing Pop Fitness with Joyful Movement

Being entrenched in the pop culture fitness world will most likely ruin your relationship with movement. Even if you are 100% committed to self love, body positivity, and self care, it is nearly impossible to block out all the #fitspo, the body ideals, and urges to lose weight that exist in almost every fitness space.

So, how do you repair your relationship with movement? How do you get away from the idea that the purpose of exercise is to change how you look?

Here’s where my unpopular opinion comes in: STOP GOING TO THE GYM.

Other personal trainers and group fitness instructors just took in a collective, audible gasp. How can I, a TRAINER in the fitness world, be encouraging people to NOT workout?

Well, hear me out. Even when I was deep in recovery, I was still going to group fitness classes. I still hung out in the gym. I was still getting told on a daily basis to burn calories and work for my ‘bikini body.’ In short, I was still working out to lose weight. Even though I wanted to disconnect movement from appearances, I was surrounded by companies that shame clients into exercise. The EASIEST way to get someone to invest in an exercise program is to tell that someone that:

  1. Being fat is the worst thing that could happen to anyone ever.

  2. They are either fat or at constant risk of becoming fat, so they’d better get their butt to the gym.

There is NO getting away from these messages unless you find an independent gym that is strictly body positive, which are very hard to come by.

What can you do instead of going to the gym, you ask? Incorporate more joyful movement into your life. Instead of getting in a daily ‘sweat sesh,’ why not go for a daily walk or hike? Why not play keep away with your dog in the park? Or, how about you dance to your favorite music for as long as you feel like it? Perhaps picking up some boxing gloves and independently hitting a heavy bag while pretending you’re in an epic battle with an alien from ‘Independence Day?’

Find a way to move your body that you find fun, and it will be easy to focus on the happiness you get from said movement instead of the calories being burned. And repeat until you truly come to terms with how movement makes you feel. Maybe you’ll incorporate joyful movement for a few months then go back into group classes like I did (I love the camaraderie and the structure!) Maybe you’ll decide that gardening for five hours a week is much more fun than spending five hours a week in the gym and stick with that movement for the rest of your life.

Whatever the outcome, you will come out of the joyful movement experience with a better idea of what sort of movement your body likes, what brings you joy, and what movement can REALLY do for you.

Isn’t it worth a shot?

<3 Chief Body Positive Trainer Meg