{#TransparentTuesday} respecting autonomy as a teacher…

After last week’s rage rant about local fitness classes being appallingly body-negative, I got a TON of passionate messages from you.

Many people were chiming in with the “yesss I see this too, it’s awful!” rhetoric, sharing in my frustration. Many others offered suggestions, encouraging me to “educate” the instructors about what they’re doing, and a solid handful wanted to know why I don’t just start working at the gyms myself!

While I didn’t have time to respond to each email personally (sorry!!) I read every single one, and was incredibly grateful for the support, camaraderie, honesty, and ideas that came out of them.

Clearly this topic hit a nerve, and there is a real need for more/better conversations about it.

I want to start by addressing the question: Why don’t you just start teaching your own classes?

Welp. Honestly, teaching a group fitness class doesn’t sound fun or interesting to me. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t light me up.

Which brings me to the question of why I don’t go up to the instructors, and educate them on what they’re doing wrong.

This was the most popular suggestion I got, and trust me– I totally get it.

Obviously, I’m open to making connections and having organic conversations with people; I regularly have skype and coffee dates with people I’ve never met just because we care about the same stuff.

But I absolutely refuse to offer anyone unsolicited advice. And not just because unsolicited advice doesn’t usually accomplish anything other than annoying the person (although that would be a pretty solid reason on it’s own).

My real reason is that I believe in total autonomy. Full stop.

As passionate as I am about body positivity and female empowerment, I won’t push my agenda onto someone who hasn’t specifically expressed interest. I know some people will disagree with me on this one, but this is how I walk my talk with regard to one of my highest-held values.

I assure you, believing in autonomy is a lot easier when people do shit you agree with.

I actually used to really struggle with this sometimes in gyms. Looking around and seeing the craziest stuff happening, I often had a verrrry strong urge to stop and educate. But unless someone was in actual physical danger, I let it go because it wasn’t my business.

Someone deadlifting with a rounded spine? Not my business. Someone doing single-leg bicep curls while balancing on a BOCU ball? Not my business. Someone doing 3 cardio classes back to back because she thinks that’ll get her results faster? Ugh. Not my business.

These are the challenging moments that really define our relationship to our beliefs.

Now, that’s not to say I just ignore everyone. I’ve had some amazing conversations with people by asking why they use a certain form or exercise, or what their goal is for a certain behavior. The key is that I came at them with genuine curiosity instead of judgement and an agenda.

This applies to the inner work, too. It gets tricky when I try to quantify what amount of shaming puts someone in “danger,” but in general I honor everyone’s total autonomy, and right to their own journey.

I promise this email isn’t just about coming up with more problems instead of solutions though lol.

Ok. So.

I want to focus my energy on educating interested parties on the cultural context of female disempowerment about our bodies .

The world of fitness instructors and personal trainers is an area that obviously needs this education, since they’re in a first-line position of power to change the conversation.

This is why I’d like to do a workshop/presentation “tour” of sorts.

After the amazing experience of teaching my How to Love Your Body workshop in NYC on Sunday, I am LIT UP.. I plan on doing more teaching and speaking this spring and summer, and for that I need your help.

First of all, do you think the How to Love Your Body Workshop would be a good fit for your city?

If so, hit reply and let me know. The more “votes” I get for a city, the more likely I’ll come to you!

But here’s the really fun part:

I also want to speak to trainers and fitness instructors. They are, as we’ve seen, the “keepers” of this material– they are ground zero for changing the conversation about a woman’s body. That’s why it feels really important to work directly with trainers and instructors (either male or female) who work with women.

So if you are an instructor, trainer, or gym owner who would would be interested in me coming to speak, present, or offer a workshop, I’d like to hear from you.

I’m open to traveling wherever, as long as people show up. I’m thinking of presenting on the importance of understanding the larger cultural context of women’s body image issues, and how to use your position to better empower your female clients— but I’m open to ideas and happy to create something unique for your group’s needs, too.

This is where I want to hear from YOU.

If you want me to come teach or present in your city, let me know! (And if you can help organize a group event for trainers/instructors, even better!)

And if you’re totally uninterested in hearing more, that’s cool too. Your journey is your own, so do you, mama. 😉

With loving respect, <3

Jessi

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