I was watching a TikTok yesterday which contained an interview with a so-called ‘Trainer’ saying that sometimes fat-shaming is needed to help motivate a client to self-motivate themselves into progressing in their fitness journey. Using phrases like ‘I had a fat client who……or ‘Fat-clients need to suck it up sometimes because….’ THIS IS NEVER OKAY TO SAY TO ANYONE! Shame on this person for even entertaining the notion that fat-shaming should even be considered is bullshit. When I got into training, I knew that anybody pursuing any sort of fitness journey is a vulnerable process; I never wanted to shame anybody for any kind of setbacks or struggles that they may have because it’s counter-productive for the professional as well as the client.
This type of bullying in the world is nothing new but it needs to be addressed, specifically by myself as well as other professionals in the fitness community because it’s degrading to the person in question and diminishes the entire fitness profession because to anyone, overweight or not knows, this isn’t an easy journey to take. The way I handle clients personally is that I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Losing weight, gaining positive self-esteem, it’s a very vulnerable process. For a ‘professional’ trainer to look an overweight client in the face and tell them to suck it up baffles me to no end. Fat-shaming only crushes the clients character that much more and makes them feel unwanted and ashamed.
More than 80% of fitness changes are mental and when someone says something or does something to you that’s derogative, it stays with you. Think of it as ‘fitness baggage’ that your brain doesn’t need. These things people say and do to breakdown your character stays with you for years and sometimes forever, having sometimes detrimental effects. People can develop eating disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug addictions, etc. If you think that they can’t, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the news in recent months about the uprising of suicide among teens due to body image issues and shaming speech towards these individuals.
How did we get here? A big part is the thing that you’re viewing this blog post on…social media and cellular devices. Think about it, we literally hold access to the entire world’s information highway in our hands and pockets all day, everyday. Everything we want to know we just have to google it. Yeah, it’s very beneficial but depending on the content that you’re viewing, it obviously can have very negative effects on people. The emotional state of a person, no matter how tough the appear to be, is very fragile. With more and more of these messages being conveyed to a person, it’s screws with their mind, rewiring messages creating a whole cluster of detachment from what is actually being said and what the person sees as a person attack on their body and their image. Also, social media has made our society angrier as a whole. When’s the last time we went a whole day without reading or viewing something that wasn’t negative? Exactly. We suck at anger management and just genuinely being at peace with one another because we all need to be in everyone’s business.
So, how do we stop this cycle? First, we need to be able to separate fiction from reality. We can’t allow social media and the internet to dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not in relation to health, fitness and body standards for people. There’s way too much bad stuff in he world and we private citizens shouldn’t be adding to the negative energy out there. We also need to stop being hypocrites too. Telling someone they look good to their face and then shaming them to others behind their back doesn’t work. It also says a lot about you as a person and if you care at all about how other’s view you, you’d best keep your mouth shut. Being nice doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t hurt anyone. We should be lifting people up not breaking them down because no one in the world has it easy, especially these days due to divisions politically, socially and economically…and it only seems to be getting worse. Take a chapter from any major person in history who has ever been influential in being a change for social justice and start with changing yourself for the better. When you get yourself right, spread that positive energy on to others.
Let’s create a world of positivity instead of the one we have currently.
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John J. Schessler is a Pittsburgh-based Exercise Therapist, Personal Trainer, LGBTQ Men’s Life Coach and host of the Apple Podcast, “ManAlive!” He is also a certified Sports Injury and Orthopedic Specialist with over 13 years of experience in Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy settings. If you wish to send personal training or motivational speaking inquiries to John, please email him directly at email@example.com
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