By MIA FREEDMAN
So last week I nearly broke my own leg with a hand weight. It wasn’t a heavy weight. Just 1.5kg because Tracy Anderson says women shouldn’t lift weights heavier than that.
Tracy Anderson is Gwyneth’s trainer, did you know that? And also mine. If by ‘trainer’ you mean she’s on the DVDs I bought. So I’m a lot like Gwyneth. Except not at all.
I have no idea how I became interested in Tracy but it happened and here we are. I bought the DVDs online last year – left them to gather dust for a long time and now I do the exercises a few times a week in my lounge room. I wrote a while ago about my first attempt at doing Tracy (you can read that post here).
I exercise for the mental, stress-relieving benefits that cardio provides and I’ve found it one of the most effective ways of dealing with anxiety – something I will write about more one day because I’ve come to realise how very common it is.
So. Back to Saturday morning, me in front of the TV in the lounge room, doing dance cardio with Tracy who is like a little pocket rocket Barbie ninja bouncing power house.
Fortunately, my husband and teenager were out and my two smaller kids were watching TV elsewhere, utterly disinterested by the sight of Mummy galumphing around the lounge room while trying desperately to follow Tracy’s confoundingly changing moves.
That’s the point apparently – to keep mixing it up and not letting your body get used to any one type of movement. No chance of that. At one point, my mother-in-law arrived to pick up my daughter and tried gamely to have a conversation with me as I huffed, puffed, bounced and jumped.
Oh, and have I mentioned my pelvic floor? Do me a favour, do some squeezes as you continue to read this post. YOU CAN NEVER DO ENOUGH PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES.
Jumping and pelvic floors are not friends.
And neither are handweights and poor spatial skills. That’s how I came a cropper – by misjudging the distance between my leg and my hand and smashing the handweight into my shin with much momentum because the moves were really fast. My children ran into the room, alerted by the sound of my yelping, to find me crumpled on the floor clutching my leg.
Exercise is dangerous, kids.
I am conflicted about them seeing me do my Tracy exercise and not just because I look like a goose.
I’m always mindful to make sure they understand I exercise to be healthy, to feel strong and to give me energy. I never mention weight or appearance.
But Tracy herself is rather….well……she does look like a tiny human Barbie. She exercises for a living. And her boobs are fake. I suspect she’s had rather a lot of work done to her face as well.
Now, I’m able to put all this information through my adult filter and know that comparing myself to Tracy, or using her as an example of what an average woman looks like is ridiculous and a fast track to despair.
But my daughter? My sons? How do I make sure they know that? Do I actually tell my daughter that Tracy has fake boobs? And that having a body that looks like that is literally a full time job – PLUS surgery?
Coco likes to hang out in the lounge room reading her book or just being near me when I’m doing my exercises and I see her taking it all in.
I see her silently forming her basic understanding of what makes a woman attractive and desirable, not just from Tracy but from all the advertising and pop culture images with which she’s bombarded.
How as her mother do I help her navigate that? How do I ensure she doesn’t come to compare herself to bodies and faces that have been surgically altered or Photoshopped into digital alien life forms? Or that she doesn’t grow up with those images seared into her consciousness as the ultimate in female beauty?
As I limped away from the TV, clutching my bruised leg, I thought about this.
Perhaps exercise videos are like music videos. Adults only…
How do you teach a little girl that the images of women’s bodies that she sees on the TV aren’t real? Do you know any girls who are already body conscious, as a young age? Do you think the age girls’ become conscious of weight and appearance is getting younger?