Friday, August 14, 2015

Say What?

"Find your strong, find your challenge."

I should probably thank Saucony for giving me my favorite phrase/piece of encouragement to say during my boot camp classes.

My classes, which I have been told are difficult, attract people of all fitness levels. I have people who can bust out burpees like nobody's business, casual exercisers to newbies. I try to program the 45-minute sessions so that there are different levels to each exercise. Push-ups in tabletop, push-ups on knees, push-ups on toes. Squats, squats to toes, squat jumps. Tricep dips with knees bent, tricep dips with straight legs, single-leg dips.

As I demonstrate the exercises and levels (I hate the word modification for class), I tell everyone to find their challenge. As they try to make it to the end of the interval, I tell them to find their strong. To dig deep and find it. Because, after all, they are strong.

So it took me by surprise this week when I filled out a survey from a reputable university that was polling group fitness instructors. The survey wanted respondents to rank how often they said certain phrases in class: Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Frequently, Almost Always.

And the phrases?

"Don't give up on that dream body!"

"Get rid of those love handles!"

"Blast that cellulite!"

"Work now so you can eat later!"

"Burn that belly fat!"

Full disclosure: There were options like "Keep it up!" and "Just one more!" However, I was astounded that so many of the choices were about the superficial benefits of exercise and being critical of the way class participants looked.

I cannot, for a minute, imagine telling my classes to get that bikini body ready when some are a) guys; and b) have significant weight to lose. I would not dream of saying things that would insinuate that I thought their bodies were not good enough. And, most of all, I would not anyone to think that I believed I felt entitled to say those things.

As a group fitness instructor, I want to help you get stronger, reach the next level, lift you up. I think that is my job. It's not to help you look like Beyonce.

Tell me: Have you ever had a class where an instructor has said those things? How would you respond?

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