Have you ever judged your personal trainer/yoga instructor/pilates instructor on their body shape and size? We’ve all done it – sussed their muscle tone, their abs, sometimes for inspiration and others for validation. “Oh, he’s got ripped abs and huge biceps, and looks pretty fit and healthy. He must be a qualified and successful instructor” or “if they can’t ‘do it’ for themselves then they sure as hell won’t be able to ‘do it’ for me.”
Fact – we are all different body types, shapes and sizes – and how we look often doesn’t tell us everything about our actual health and fitness levels. True, sometimes someone post-detox may have brighter, clearer eyes or skin than me, but in general, it’s the age old adage of “never judge a book by it’s cover.”
I was asked recently, given my job as a Pilates instructor and health and wellness business owner, if I feel the need to stay a certain size, shape or look in order to inspire my clients and attract new ones. I hadn’t really ever placed any thought around how I may ‘look’ to my clients. I’ve only ever been focused on my own health for my personal wellbeing and being happy in my own skin. Sure, I know I need to be able to do the exercises that I am teaching my clients, many of which are challenging, and when you’re doing 4 classes back to back, it’s hard not to gain some muscle tone!
I definitely feel the need to practice what I preach – but, I preach balance and improving all-round body function and movement, and that comes in ALL shapes and sizes. I know many yoga and Pilates instructors that wouldn’t necessarily look like your stereotypical “toned and fit” athlete, but they are in fact extremely healthy in terms of their diet, exercise and nutrition.
A year ago, I was in a yoga class with a teacher that one may consider to be on the larger side. I heard a fellow student in the class say to her friend “Urgh, do they expect us to enjoy being taught by a fat dude?”
The instructor was not your stereotypical yogi – he had a bit of a ‘gut’ and never left from a seated position, but after class I went and spoke with him to learn more about his journey, training and personality (his class was EPIC by the way).
He told me he had suffered from sciatica and a hip reconstruction after a major accident as well as a slipped disc, and was in constant pain when standing – but that he had been a practicing yogi for more than 30 years, and a teacher for 20. He reminded me that health and wellbeing (and in particular Yoga) isn’t just about the physical. It incorporates the spiritual, mental and emotional sides of one’s self, too.
So – Do you judge your trainer or instructor on their physical appearance? Do you seek only ‘toned, slim and ripped’ people or do you have no preference, guided only by their ability to make you feel something good, and their ability to instruct a great class?
For me, I seek instructors that I connect with and feel inspired by. Being inspired is crucial in your fitness journey – otherwise it feels like a chore. Just remember that looking rad in a pair of tights will only inspire you so far (probably to reach for your credit card rather than your toes).