fitness

"The system is truly broken." I'm a personal trainer. Here are 5 things I hate about the fitness industry.

I know you. 

You try so hard to balance it all, and often you come last. 

You invest thousands of dollars, years of your life, and endless amounts of emotional commitment on yet another program, plan, or personal trainer. 

You are made to feel like you should fit into a certain ‘type’ of health that, in reality, does not celebrate the different ways that healthy bodies and minds look. 

The fitness industry makes you feel like you don’t belong if your body type doesn’t fit into a very precise (and atypical) box, regardless of your overall health and happiness. 

You’re unfairly made to feel ashamed, embarrassed, self-conscious. When, in reality, you should be proud, confident, and happy with the positive lifestyle choices you make. 

Health is not an image. 

It is your mental wellbeing, your positive relationship with food, your enjoyment of social occasions without guilt. It is playing with your kids and showing them what being body confident looks like by not comparing to others. 

This is normal.

But the fitness industry makes the normal seem abnormal. 

Watch: How to improve your daughter's body image. Post continues after video. 


Video via Mamamia.

Time and time again, the industry has a detrimental impact on women; your perceptions of your health and your body image are warped, and sometimes you feel like a failure.

You aren’t failing. The system lets you down.

You are given rules to follow, but you are not taught. You comply with what ‘professionals’ say, but you are not shown how to be the best version of you. 

You rely on a plethora of ambiguous terminology designed to intimidate you. And it leaves you overwhelmed and confused, questioning your proactive choices that are beneficial for your overall health.

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The fitness industry perpetuates using exercise as punishment, rather than a loving movement for the sake of your health.

It glorifies a dieting mindset, rather than eating to enjoy food and fuelling your body. And it advertises a very distinctive body type as the embodiment of ‘health’, without respecting and appreciating the diverse range of body types that all women have.

As a personal trainer, there is a lot I don't like about the fitness industry. Here are five things: 

1. Unhelpful buzzwords and phrases.

Phrases like ‘heal your relationship with food’ and ‘grow your mindset’ are clickbait thrown around to appeal to your emotions and vulnerability. Fitness industry types know your struggles. We know you feel deflated and confused and overwhelmed.

But rather than actually teach you how to heal and grow, we just keep highlighting that you don’t know how to.

Image: Supplied.

I truly believe that trainers and coaches should give you enough tools, knowledge, support and love so that you have everything you need to go off on your own, and continue to succeed and grow in whatever way suits your lifestyle and individual purpose.

2. The concept of 'intuitive eating'. 

When you see people in the fitness industry post all over their social media that they ‘do not diet’, and instead they ‘intuitively eat’, this conditions you to believe that you too should be dieting or ‘intuitively’ eating to restrict your food consumption. 

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Secondly, it makes you wonder if your body type, which is perfectly natural as it is, needs to be altered to fit into this diet culture. A negative stigma is associated with any body that does not adhere to these unlikely standards.

So, you may embark on this over simplified practice out of peer pressure or the persuasion that it will ‘help’ you, even though you don’t need helping. 

However, you should not be made to feel like your quality of health is determined by a restrictive diet, what is on your plate, or by the amount that you weigh. 

Your health encompasses so much more than that. Aren’t we as a society beyond this yet?

3. Personal trainers encourage symptoms of disordered eating.

Disordered eating is any consistent irregularity in your eating and eating behaviour. 

Many of you may unfortunately experience disordered eating tendencies if you've been impacted by diet culture at some point in your life (haven't we all?). 

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Have you ever been made to feel like you need to do a hard workout to ‘make up’ for a big night, or to ‘earn’ a meal that evening? 

You should be exercising purely to enjoy movement and how it makes you feel, not to hit a calorie burning quota. Movement is not a punishment. It’s a choice; and one that should be enjoyed, not hated, if you choose to do so.

Personal trainers are constantly validating this negative behaviour of seeing food as good or bad, and to be ‘earned’ through punishing your body physically with exercise. 

On their social media accounts, they say things like ‘earn those Easter eggs with this HIIT workout’ or ‘work off those Friday night drinks with the booty blaster workout’. 

The system is truly broken when the professionals are endorsing a problem they should be fixing. 

4. Food is fuel.

I remember the first time I naively invested in a meal plan. 

I was somewhat active and healthy, but I was given a plan with a nutritional content that was far lacking what my body needed to function properly. I didn’t know any different. 

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I was made to feel that if I wasn’t starving, then I wasn’t working hard enough. One ‘meal’ was even a teaspoon of peanut butter. Let me tell you – I licked that spoon clean!

Physiologically, if you’re working out (or even if not), you need to eat enough fuel to sustain your individual needs. Instead, PTs give their clients cookie-cutter diet plans that are over-restrictive and do not account for your individual circumstances.

These are not sustainable. And they are definitely not healthy. If you want to adopt a slightly healthier lifestyle, simply incorporating more movement into your daily life as part of errands, socialising or playing with your kids is far more maintainable and sustainable.

Your physical and mental health go hand in hand. Appreciate your body for what it can do, don’t be persuaded to notice what it allegedly lacks. Your mental wellbeing is so important.

Listen to this episode from The Well. Post continues after audio. 


5. There’s not enough importance on intrinsic motivation.

Everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions; save money for a house, eat healthier, call friends more. 

As you know, it isn’t as simple as just opening a savings account, buying more green stuff, or hitting the dial button. 

Life happens! There needs to be an intrinsically driven approach for you. 

When it comes to nurturing your overall health, there’s no point in prepping your meals, buying new activewear, and planning your days if you do not have a reason that is so strong, so deep, so moving, that there cannot be a Plan B.

If you decide to make changes to your lifestyle, firstly these changes are purely your own and not impressed upon you by all the reasons I have mentioned in this article. Then you need to find a deeply engrained and emotional motivation.

When you have an intrinsically, self-driven reason, your successes along the way will be so much more rewarding because you only have yourself to thank.

You will find joy and gratitude in the process, not just in the far-away outcome. Your promises to yourself have integrity and you have put yourself first. You trust that you will always figure out what is best for you, and nobody else.

Nikki Chamberlain is a mum, online health and mindset coach, and owner of Nikki Chamberlain Coaching. You can find her on her Instagram or Facebook page.

Feature Image: Instagram @NikkiCCoaching.

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