Thursday, November 29, 2018

Joining the Tribe - The Coach that I am

Kira Dorsey, Masters Athlete, Capitol City Championships, 2018

For the past month or so, I've been looking towards the future. Recently, I put in an application to be part of the Super Fit Hero directory of Body Positive Trainers.

Now, I thought a lot about joining this tribe. I kept rolling around in my head what it meant to be a 'body positive' trainer. Was I really one? What did that mean anyway? As much as I work in the realm of physical health and movement, I also realize that I deal with mental health in a lot of ways as well. No, I'm not a mental health professional by any means, but I understand the mental games that come into play with weightlifting. The fear of the new lifter. The anticipation of a seasoned lifter attempting a new weight. The defeat of a bad day in the gym. The elation of a a great day in the gym. (I mean, if you've ever snatched, you get it...)  So naturally I believe that things that stretch our mental comfort zone are just as vital as those new movements.

And I hear a lot of understandable critiques about the Body Positive movement, especially from my fellow trainers. Honestly, I get it. Most of our clients initially come to us to lose weight, right? So why should we be encouraging the fatness?!

After a lot of mulling over it in my brain, I applied and was accepted.

Because I get it.

Because it's a good fit for me. Is there anything wrong with wanting to lose fat? Of course not. But most of that happens in the kitchen, not the gym. In the gym, I already am the Body Positive trainer.

So what does it mean, to me, to be a 'Body Positive' coach?

It means

I am the coach that looks for growth over perfection.
I am the coach that will proudly stand by and stand up for my transgender athlete/client.
I am the coach that will learn about the struggles of my clients and empathize.
I am the coach that will be louder than the voice of fear in your head.
I am the coach that believes that you CAN do it, whatever "it" is, however long it takes. Let's do it.
I am the coach that believes power doesn't have an ideal gender, size, or age.
I am the coach that believes each person has a unique talent to bring to the world.
I am the coach that will NOT encourage my client to get on the scale.

It ALSO means

That I will never advise you to get on the scale every day. 
Weight and fat aren't the same thing. The wooden chair I'm sitting on has a 'weight'. It doesn't mean the chair is 'fat' or 'unhealthy' or in some way 'broken'.  Weight is the effect gravity has on the chair. It'll weigh something else on the moon. And when I'm done with this Earth and slip slide into my grave, my 'weight' won't even be a topic of conversation at my wake (which better be AMAZING... just saying). It won't be carved on my tombstone. The important things will be. Loving wife, daughter, sister, mother, (and badass coach) will be on there.

That life is too short not to enjoy.
Go on vacation. Enjoy a holiday meal with family and friends if you want. Do that marathon. Lift your bell of choice (kettle bell, barbell, dumbbell, handbell). Learn. Grow! Experience! Your fitness should allow you to experience life to the fullness you desire. Whether that is keeping up with your kids, your friends, your partner - it is YOUR LIFE!  Your training should enhance your enjoyment of your life, not make you feel ashamed, worthless, or ruined.

Maybe it's the process of application, has reminded me of all the amazing people I've had the occasion to work with, maybe it's the holidays that has be a little bit nostalgic, but as I look forward, it's amazing to realize how much I've learned from the fledgling beginnings. I'll never forget one of my first clients (a 78 year old veteran with 2 knee replacements that was learning how to use his legs and his abs again), to a few of my favorite athletes who let me guide them on their journeys into their first meets and beyond, to the more recent transformative moments when I realized I was the only female weightlifting coach in a warm up room full of men, and yet I held my ground with any of them. Or when I have gone to break out the brass knuckles (figuratively) for my athletes during competition because I didn't see why my transgender athlete shouldn't be allowed to compete to the fullest extent the rules allowed...

Not one of those incredibly memorable transformative moments had to do with the number on someone's scale or their pant size.

Now, my own journey has taught me that there is more to fitness, strength and power than meets the scale.
Sure, dropping a pant size isn't a bad goal. There are very few 'bad' goals out there. But I know my body personally changes often. When I turn up the heat and really focus on an upcoming meet or event, my body changes quickly. It responds to heavy lifting, but the scale doesn't shift much.
And that's okay.  I want to be as strong as I can be where ever that lands me on the scale. Because for me in my life, being strong means I can take care of my family when my husband deploys. Strength is such a highly personal thing, but being capable of doing the things life calls upon us to do is really a feat. Whether it's handling a high stress job, or carrying a toddler through a store, life calls for all kinds of strength.

And I believe we can build it together.

That's what makes me a body positive trainer.

If you're looking for someone to shame you into changing your ways, that's not my crowd. If you're looking for someone to empower you and push you - to plant seeds and help you cultivate them - THAT is the crowd I run with. And I'm proud to be part of this new community.
You can find me here through Super Fit Hero and meet me at the Y.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Surviving the "Off Season" or Lessons in Adaptation

If I had to sum up 2018, I would call it the "off season" year.  Personally, we've had things to handle on the home front, from the transition of getting the kiddo into a preschool routine, to the constantly shifting schedule of the Navy, from broken down cars to sickness and back again. It's been a hell of a ride.

And I'm not the only one. Several of my athletes have had their own behind-the-gym battles to fight. And I'll be honest, for those of use who are highly kinetic, these times can be exceedingly challenging. Just one one thing is handled, another thing pops up!

Sound familiar?

It's like the year of the full-moon craziness, am I right?

Okay, maybe this is your year that you've been kicking ass through - but rest assured, there will be an off season year for you too.

The idea isn't that everyone shouldn't have an off season. The foundations of health and strength are not 'perfection'. They are not some unattainable photo in a magazine or lifting total in a competition. One of the KEYS to strength building is flexibility.This isn't the year of the barbell. This isn't the year we bring home medals and trophies and accolades. This is the year where we may pick up a kettle bell or a sand bag or a dumbbell more often. This may be the time we challenge ourselves with body weight or with the TRX. None of that is Useless.  There is NO SUCH THING AS WASTED STRENGTH.

Muscles are made by making tears in tissue, and letting it heal, and repeating the process over and over and over, in new an exciting ways.  That is how the body adapts to stress. It breaks down, and then builds up.
So let me say that again.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WASTED STRENGTH.This may not be the calendar year for a new Personal Record at a meet, but this may be the year for that new personal record on a plank. Or a box jump. Or even the mental game (which, let's face is, is 80% of the game of life PERIOD). 

So, yes, as a team, this has been the year of the Off Season for the lifters, but no moment has been wasted time. No movement has been wasted energy.  Mental games are being honed. The biggest test, resiliency, is just around the corner. And beyond any barbell - that is a life skill, a strength, worth building.