A (Love) Note From Your Personal Trainer

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J_Megs

She walks tentatively into my tiny office and takes a seat on the swivel chair. Clad in black tights, an oversized black t-shirt, and just-bought-yesterday neon running shoes, she looks nervous.

I sit across from her, pen hovering over my official clipboard. I fiddle with the name tag on my nylon Personal Trainer vest. I’m nervous too.

“So, tell me … what are your fitness goals?”

She starts confidently enough. Almost detached. She wants to lose a little weight, tone this, trim that, gain a bit more energy.

Then, at a seemingly insignificant moment in the conversation, there is a noticeable shift. Her voice catches when I ask why she wants to lose weight. Her eyes get a little glassy as she describes the loose skin she sees under her arms, around her thighs, over her once-taut tummy. She looks wistful when describing the body that once was; a perfectly muddled mix of fantasy and reality.

Then she stands and traces the areas she wants “fixed” with her fingers. She jiggles her arm for me to demonstrate its flaws. She pinches her legs, her stomach, her back. She can’t bear to look in the mirror. She laughs in her attempt not to cry.

And I dutifully take my notes. Write down her concerns, her problem areas, her body wish list.

I explain the work it will take to get there.

It’s all really very professional.

But inside, I’m a mess.

Her hate is palpable. I can hear the pain behind the chipper answers, see her draw into herself as we talk.

There’s so much I want to say.

But I don’t.

Because I am the same. In a profession where people expect trainers to be perfectly fit physical specimens, I know I don’t measure up. I, too, rack my own eyes over my body like a fine-toothed comb over a mass of snarled hair. I, too, pinch and prod. I, too, can list 50 flaws before tripping over a fleck of beauty.

I wonder if she’s noticed all my problem areas? I see her notice other trainers and think, Does she think they look better than me? Of course she does. She’ll want to work with them.

How can I tell her she’s beautiful, when I don’t have the guts to tell myself?

How can I tell her what I see in her, when I’m breaking down in front of the mirror?

I couldn’t.

So I didn’t.

That day was years ago now. Over time, I’ve slowly learned to offer myself the grace and acceptance I long believed everyone but me deserved.

But I look back and know I missed out on a tremendous opportunity. And I deeply regret that.

Would you imagine we’re sitting together in that tiny office? And you’ve told me all the things you want to change. I lay my pen down, look straight into your watery eyes, and say this:

You.

You are stunning.

Your smile had me the second you walked in. It makes your gorgeous eyes sparkle. Your legs are strong, love. They’ve carried you through some hard, hard places, I think. And your stomach? Your stomach is some kind of war hero for all it’s been through. It looks pretty darn good from here.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business, it’s that perfection just does not exist. So please don’t waste one more ounce of your precious self-trying to get there.

Instead, let’s go run through the trees, or do some insanely hard jump squats, or laugh ourselves silly trying to touch our toes.

Let’s celebrate just how beautiful, how powerful, how insanely strong, how exquisitely imperfect you are.

Give yourself a little grace, honey.

____________

Image credit: Guian Bolisay

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