Working as a personal trainer allowed me to meet amazing people, many of whom I'm still friends with today. However, after a few years of working in a field that revolves around physical appearance, I began to feel completely misaligned with my soul, purpose, and intuition.
Initially I got into this work because fitness was my "thing." Outsiders viewed me as the healthy-eating, half-marathon-running "fit chick," when on the inside I was struggling with feelings of insecurity and perfectionism. I worked tirelessly and obsessively to make my body "perfect" because that was the one thing I excelled at, despite being mediocre in every other aspect of my life (or so I thought).
During this time, I was my body. Being the dedicated gym rat with six-pack abs was my identity. If you were to have taken that away from me, I would have had literally no clue who I was as a person. I once started crying when someone asked me what I liked to do for fun, outside the gym because I realized I had no idea.
Yep. That's a true story.
Naturally, this made me believe that my purpose in life was to become a personal trainer so that I could share my "skills" with other people. To further validate this idea, a manager at my first personal training job told me it was OK that I didn't have any experience because my "body was my résumé."
A few years passed and I helped people "tone up" and "lose the baby weight" while I read fitness magazines for fun in between clients. As time progressed, my body started shutting down and I physically could not do the amount of exercise I once could. I became less and less interested in being at the gym and more interested in building a fulfilling life that didn't revolve around treadmills and free weights.
I started swapping my daily fitness and dieting research for podcasts about body acceptance, spirituality, entrepreneurship, and self-love. I realized that I started having to hold my tongue when talking to my clients about their fitness goals because they were coming to me to tone up their so-called trouble areas — not to have a therapy session.
I started to feel like I was going to work and holding in a huge secret that might be exposed at any moment — (gasp! the personal trainer who only does yoga as exercise and eats intuitively instead of counting macros?!).
I slowly started to decrease my client load while building up the confidence to start my own business. I became terrified to transition into the realm of entrepreneurship where my body was no longer my résumé. I wouldn't be getting clients based on what my abs looked like but rather the quality of my content and my willingness to be vulnerable in an attempt to connect and inspire others who shared my struggles.
Working in a gym for the rest of my life would have been the easy way out. Being a personal trainer would make it way too easy for me to fall back into old patterns of exercise addiction and self-loathing. It would mean that I wouldn't have to do the uncomfortable work of figuring out who I am at a soul level without my self-worth riding on what the scale said that day. It would mean that I would never have an excuse NOT to work out, and I know how easily that can lead to obsession for me.
Giving up personal training allowed me to be unapologetically myself and finally speak my truth.
Which leads me to share what I learned about myself through this experience:
I want my life to be so exciting that I can't find time to go to the gym.
I want to meet people who don't care if I've worked out that day or not and aren't looking at me to be the example of elite fitness.
I want to meet people who don't immediately feel the need to defend their workout routine to me or tell me that they need my help getting their post-baby body back.
I want to meet people who want to talk about ideas, love, the universe, Pokémon, or literally anything other than triceps definition and calorie intake.
If you want to talk to me about your body, be prepared for me not to hold my tongue anymore. I want you to be active for enjoyment and health, whether that is inside a gym or playing outside. I want you to eat for nourishment so that you can live your best life possible.
I want to encourage you to ask yourself some questions about what the "perfect body" means to you and what you think would change about your life if you were thinner or more muscular.
I want to challenge you to stop the "diet camaraderie" with your friends and start encouraging each other that you are enough. Exactly the way you are, right now.
I want to tell you that if you enjoy being a personal trainer or going to a personal trainer, keep doing it! There is nothing inherently wrong with personal training or gyms or even weight loss. But just because "diet culture" is everywhere does not mean you have to be a part of it if you don't want to be.
You are more than your body.
And finally, your body is not your résumé.