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Flooded

"to arrive in overwhelming amounts or quantities"...

Activation Warning: mention of eating disorder and self harm

 

I have been really lonely lately.

Like REALLY lonely.

And I’ve come to realize that it has a lot to do with the fact that all of my communities / networks that I had pre-covid were all directly related to work. The jobs I held. The industries I was in. The jobs I lost and the industries that pivoted and the communities / networks I am no longer a part of now.

One of those jobs I had was teaching fitness classes…and I was really good at it. Like full schedule with waitlists weeks out as a Head Trainer and in charge of Training and Development for the rest of the team at the studio where I taught.

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I have been teaching fitness since about 2009 and have such a deep love for holding safe space for bodies that are being brave.

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See…I’ve had a very complicated relationship with fitness / working out. One that has allowed me to weaponize the idea of “getting healthy and strong” as a way to abuse myself. One that has made me incredibly sick over the years and landed me in outpatient treatment for anorexia at age 16 (more on that in future posts). One that I have worked hard to shift and adjust and find balance in.

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I have had countless trainers / teachers / fitness professionals over the years be so irresponsible with their cues, “motivational phrases” and advancement options that were dangerous and detrimental to their clients inner dialogue and external view of themselves. I wanted to be different when I taught fitness. I wanted to change the approach.

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Being a trauma informed instructor with a degree in psychology as well as a former instructor trainer (a teacher of teachers), it has always been important for me to hold space for the whole person that was taking my class. Not the parts of them that showed up to change their bodies or work hard to be sore the next day but the parts that needed a witness. The hidden parts that were behind the “need to change” themselves, the darker parts of why they “had to get their heart rate to a certain number”…I wanted to hold space for the unspoken. The unseen.

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This is why my clients came back. Many of them couldn’t articulate why my class felt different than other instructors. It was because I was clearly telling them what to do with their bodies (clarity), how to do it specifically for their bodies (accessibility), why they were doing it (motivation) and naming the other things that were coming up during class…the inner dialogue that creeps in when we are starting to feel sensations in our bodies. When we’re starting to drop in. When we’re starting to hit our edge. When we’re starting to be challenged. When we’re starting to doubt ourselves. When we’re starting to feel shame or discomfort or fatigue or comparison.

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When cueing a hold at the end of an exercise, for example, I might say something like:

“If your muscles are starting to shake here and it’s making you feel a little embarrassed, I want you to know that you’re hitting the edges of your strength. This is where the change happens. No one is looking at you. I want you to focus on yourself. You can totally be a little embarrassed about that shake and you can totally stay there and acknowledge that embarrassment because your body is letting you know it’s uncomfortable. If there is any pain or tweak, back off. If there is shaking and fatigue, we are not going to be here long. I know you can do this, it’s ok if you don’t think you can, I know you can. I am right here with you. Let’s stay for another 10 seconds…”

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Throughout the cues above, I not only would increase the energy in my voice but also the volume of my voice, the volume of the music, the speed at which I’m talking because no one is listening at that point. When someone has hit their edge, they have mentally and audibly (sometimes visually) tuned out and are functioning on vibrational energy…this is the point in class where I would name everything that they’re feeling and why and the benefits of those sensations to give them as much information as possible so they can keep trusting me and trusting themselves.

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I would consistently call out names to encourage and assure everyone that I saw them, that their efforts mattered, that I was right there with them, that we were in this together, that their discomfort was worth it because it meant that they were getting stronger, building confidence, tapping into their personal power.

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I had countless clients finish class with me and cry which was why I would always take our first stretch into something that allowed people to hide for a moment (a child’s pose or something facing away from the mirrors) so they could have their energetic release. I would rub their back to let them know that I saw them and then check in with them before they left class.

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I loved every moment of teaching because it allowed me to create an environment where clients had choices within every move that provided effective results for any body type, age, fitness level.


I loved seeing people hit their goals and realize just how strong they could be.

The reason I have taken a break from teaching fitness (for now) is because there was a point in lockdown where I felt irresponsible pushing people’s bodies to their edges that were so flooded with stress and so activated already. I could see people’s fatigue and burn out in their movements and noticed that they were not taking variations on exercises when they needed them. Choosing to stay in something that wasn’t working for them, that they couldn’t maintain proper form in but were stuck in the mindset that they had to do it to the highest level.

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I was recognizing how I felt like I was failing as an instructor when I would need to take less intense variations (because MY body was flooded too) but didn’t want to appear weak or out of shape...an outdated thought pattern for me and a resurgence of my disordered thinking and self harm tendencies. I realized that there was a shift that was happening within the collective towards “self control”. So much of our lives at that point were out of our control and many people were working out to find some structure, to get in their bodies and to feel empowered. But, at a certain point, I was seeing the opposite happen…

There wasn’t a lack of motivation…there was freeze response.

There wasn’t a lack of choice…there was a fight response.

There wasn’t a lack of commitment…there was a flight response.

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People were traumatized.


A common side effect of trauma is losing the ability to choose. Trauma happens and we don’t have a choice about it. The fallout oftentimes results in a need to control other things in our lives. Despite providing countless choices within each exercise in a class, my clients were consistently “choosing” what they used to be able to do prior to this collective traumatic event. As the trainer, in a position of leadership and influence, I could not continue to feed into this narrative. I didn’t feel good approaching class without addressing the unspoken. The unseen. It felt abusive to me.

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I didn’t want to be a trainer who ignored the bodies in front of me and just carried on with the script / the prompt / the methodology regardless of the ripple effect it was having on people’s overall health. I didn’t want to manufacture an empowered space without maintaining a safe foundation and I couldn’t push bodies’ limits knowing they were already at maximum capacity.

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So…this is why I shifted my 1on1 and group offerings. Because I wanted to start at the foundation of safety and I could not and can not ignore the collective overwhelm our systems have endured.

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If you’re interested in the restoration of choice through tools and resourcing that focuses on the whole body; schedule a FREE 30 min chat with me or sign up for my various group offerings.



Safety. Intimacy. Empowerment.

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