Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fitness Bullies

Fitness Bullies


By the looks of my Facebook timeline, there seems to be a growing number of women that are becoming passionate about lifting weights. They are taking the time to learn how to properly execute the squat, deadlift, and pull-up, along with other big movements and working them into their training repertoire. This absolutely thrills me because of the myriad of benefits that a solid strength training program can provide to people, both in and out of the gym. Enhanced health, increased bone density, additional confidence, and a more desirable body composition just to name a few.

However, I have also noticed another growing trend on the ol' Facebook timeline: A plethora of people bashing and belittling others for doing certain exercises or activities, ranging anywhere from bicep curls and lateral raises to distance running or Zumba. The powerlifters tease the runners, the runners make fun of the bodybuilders, the bodybuilders laugh at the fitness class attendees. Can't we all just get along?

Facebook status update from a female fitness bully:  
 "I deadlifted a new max tonight while the dude next to me did bicep curls. What a loser!" 

Time out. 
What?

Trust me, I get it. Doing bicep curls isn't recruiting nearly as much muscle as a deadlift. However, not everybody A) cares, B) likes to deadlift (blasphemous, I know!),  C) knows any better, or D) aspires to have the beefiest deadlift in all the land. Plus I have a secret to tell you: while I love to deadlift, I also do bicep curls. That's right, I said it! I love doing bicep curls and I happen to think that good ol' curls give arms a nice shape - a shape that is not always achieved by some people without a little direct work.

Erin does bicep curls and I'm not mad at it.

Fitness encompasses many things 

I am a nutrition coach, trainer, elite level work-er out-er, and all-around fitness enthusiast, which means I have seen and heard it all; from crazy eating fads to exercises that only a Cirque de Soleil performer should be doing. Some of the stuff A lot of the stuff I see is admittedly quite disconcerting. We've all seen That Guy at the gym wobbling violently on an upside-down BOSU ball while squeezing a Thighmaster between his knees and simultaneously attempting to throw a 30lb medicine ball overhead. You watch in horror as you proactively dial 9-1 on your phone and wait to dial that final '1' when he inevitably tumbles off the BOSU headfirst. But here's a crazy thought: what if he actually enjoys the challenge of that acrobatic movement? Or what if he really thinks it's helping him? Does that give anybody a right to make fun of him? Hell no. Different strokes for different folks.

And what I find the most disturbing about all of this, is that some of the derogatory comments I've seen are coming from "fitness professionals.

Isn't it the job of a fitness professional to support, encourage, educate, and help?

Since when does that entitle you to make fun of people when we don't even know their story? What if somebody can't do squats due to physical limitations? What if they don't deadlift because they simply aren't aware of the benefits, or maybe they are so intimidated by it that they resort to bicep curls because they are more straightforward?

Save Your Judgemental B.S.

As somebody in the Health, Inspiration, and Coaching industry, I think it is absolutely imperative that we refrain from judging. For example, I watched my husband do bicep curls, chest press, and a variety of other machine based movements yesterday at the gym because he has a horrible case of Sciatica and he is currently unable to squat, deadlift, or bench. Loser? Not a chance. He is incredibly strong and has an amazing body!
My brother works out at Planet Fitness because it is walking distance from his house and it has all of the equipment that he personally needs in order to enhance his sport and maintain his incredible physique, which is downhill mountain bike racing and motorcross. Loser? Ha. He is one of the most impressive athletes I know.
My brother works out at Planet Fitness. Seems to be working pretty well for him and his personal goals.

In Defense of Group Fitness


I participated in and taught Group Fitness classes for years and years and I don't regret a single moment of it. In fact, I'm grateful for those experiences and it's some of the most fun I've ever had at the gym. While my personal opinion is that Group Fitness likely won't deliver most people the body of their dreams, it does have many upsides. First, the camaraderie! I met some of my closest friends doing Spin, Body Pump, and kickboxing - friends that I'm still very close to years later. I know so many people that unfortunately hate their job and the only thing that they look forward to each day is getting to the gym at night to take their favorite group fitness class with their friends. Think that has health benefits? You betcher sweet ass. Health benefits don't only come in the form of lifting heavy weights - it also comes by way of happiness. If it weren't for Group Fitness, some people wouldn't get any exercise at all. I'd rather have somebody doing something rather than nothing, and if that something gets them moving and puts a smile on their face then I'm all for it! 

Fuck-Around-Itis

I've been accused of having what is known as "fuck-around-itis" in the gym. Well... guilty as charged. This means that I don't have a set plan or any rhyme or reason at all for doing what I occasionally do - but instead I do the things that I enjoy. Granted, this isn't the most effective path to take for strength or performance gains but it makes me happy, and that, my friends, is my top priority. Some days I go in and pull a ~300lb deadlift, but other days I go in and do circuits that you better believe includes bicep curls or lateral raises. Sometimes a girl just needs to sweat, get a good pump, and feel the delicious rush of endorphins. Some people have asked me why I take yoga 5 days a week on top of training and frequent brisk walks outside. Simple. Because it makes me happy. Sometimes I load my iPod full of new music, hop on the elliptical and just zone out for an hour because, as crazy as that will sound to most, I dig it. It gives me a chance to listen to good music, shut down my always-buzzing brain, and move my body - ahhhh, feels so good!


Some people don't aspire to be the strongest, the leanest, or the fastest, and that is a-okay! We are in  no place to judge their fitness journey. It's crucial that we be respectful of other peoples fitness goals and what makes them tick. If somebody asks me my opinion on what is more effective - x, y, or z - I'll be happy to give them my input. But until then, as long as you're taking the time to do something, whether it be squats, bicep curls, leg extensions or cardio kickbox, then you have my support.

What do you think? Have you noticed fitness peeps that think that their way is the only way and everybody else is just wasting their time?

**Disclaimer: If somebody is doing something that is obviously dangerous, I will say something to them out of concern for their safety and will do my best to do so tactfully. 

Check out:
Dear Self, You Look Damn Good Today
I'm Not The Food Police
Today We Have a Choice

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117 comments:

  1. I JUST wrote something about this exact same topic. If I post it, I am referring you because I don't want to seem like a copycat. :) I used to be that girl on the elliptical for an hour 6 days a week, not having any knowledge whatsoever on why men (and very few women) would spend all their gym time in the weight room. Isn't the real fitness challenge in the cardio section? I didn't know any better! And yet I had a few people (even a TRAINER) scoff at me every time I got on the elliptical. But like I said, I had NO IDEA about the benefits and importance of strength training. I completely agree--it's up to the trainers and professionals to HELP the uneducated people, not make fun of them! I can't tell you how many times I hear big weightlifters laugh at long distance runners because 'they burn off all muscle tissue.' Well, my trainer is super muscular and she goes long distance running! I think the fact that someone is being active is what is most important, whether that's doing Zumba or Jazzercize, instead of sitting on their butt all day!

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    1. Hey Brittany!
      I was absolutely in your shoes for the longest time. I was The Cardio Queen and I lived for Group Fitness Classes because I didn't know where else to start and didn't understand the benefits of strength training.
      You hit the nail on the head - as long as people are moving and being happy, that is all that matters!

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    2. I also used to spend all my time doing cardio. And then I discovered the weight room and it has been an amazing transformation. I lift the heaviest weights I can have gone from skinny to thin with awesome muscles. I'm 5'5, 115 lbs, and for example, use 32.5 lb dumbbells for bicep curls. I love being so much physically stronger. As as woman, I feel a lot less vulnerable, too, knowing that I'm stronger than a fair number of men I encounter.

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    3. Hey this is just the thing. I am 64 years old now and in and out of the gym all my life. I like lifting, spinning and jogging. I support any and all who make the effort.

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    4. I am a Pilates teacher who likeS to lift, play soccer and keep up with a 4 year old. I am blessed I can move, feel like I kick ass when I lift heavy and appreciate everyday having the capacity to move. I agree with youR post and appreciate your humbleness, a refreshing voice from a stereotypically hyperfit heavy lifting faction of trainers. You will with have a great following in your business with this APPROACH!

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  2. Here! Here! I couldn't agree more! Surely what matters the most is that they are doing some exercise to stay healthy than nothing at all. Very well said.

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    1. Something is better than nothing. But some somethings are much better than other somethings.

      Once a person steps into a fitness centre at all, they've taken a positive step. Too many get stuck there, though, and go no further.

      Yes, some guys are doing curls because of their sciatica, some women are doing hours of cardio because they're going to run a marathon. But the vast majority are just doing it because they don't know any better - and they refuse the chance to learn. 2/3 new gym members refuse the free introductory sessions, and 2/3 of those who do them never follow the routine given them, thus at most 1/9 new gym members are seeking and following instruction on how to get the results they want.

      It's alright not to know, those who don't know shouldn't be mocked for it. But some of those who don't know don't want to know, and those who stick their fingers in their ears and go "la la la la I can't hear you!" definitely should be mocked.

      Most of those doing less-than-ideal workouts are doing them because they refuse to even consider listening to someone who will tell them how to do more effective ones.

      We're fitness bullies? Well, speaking from a trainer's perspective... people coming into the gym and making up their own useless workouts is like owning a restaurant and watching guests come into the kitchen and doing their own bad cooking. They've missed the point of the place, and are rejecting our expertise. It's insulting.

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    2. Hi Kyle,
      thanks for your comment. As a trainer myself, I can certainly understand and appreciate where you are coming from. I absolutely have systems for both nutrition and training that I am confident can get the majority of people results that they'd be thrilled with. Because of this, I get frustrated as well when I see people doing things that aren't at all conducive with their goals. People like you and I get frustrated because we CARE and we want to see people succeed - that is part of our job as a trainer. However, we eventually have to come to terms with the fact that we can't help people that don't want to be helped. And I believe if people don't want to be helped, it's still not our place (or anyone's place) to be rude, mock, or make fun of them. Because truly, what is the point - to shove it down their throats? To bully them into becoming a client? Not likely to happen. I'd venture to say that it's more likely that person will end up thinking of that trainer as unprofessional, rude, and telling their friends to avoid him/her.
      Most commercial gyms are a public place, and as long as people pay their monthly dues and don't hurt anybody else, they pretty much have to right to do whatever kind of fitness they want, without being hassled.

      That is an interesting statistic about the number of people that turn down the complimentary training session. I would be willing to bet that most people think it's either A) intimidating, or B) will be too hard. As trainers, perhaps we should brainstorm what we can do to make this option more appealing to potential clients. What would make them feel more comfortable? Maybe meeting up beforehand and establishing a bit of a rapport to get comfortable before heading over to pound the iron? I don't know. But what I do know is that these are the obstacles we need to come up with solutions for.

      I'm a firm believer of the ol' "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" adage, and I think all we can do is our best to educate and encourage people and hope that they will give us a chance to prove that we can help them.

      In sum, I understand where you are coming from. I think a lot of trainers have the same frustrations. But we need to be conscious of how we handle the situation because there is never any reason to be rude.

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    3. Well, it's not like I'm wandering up to people in the gym and saying, "hey idiot, WTF are you doing?"

      In practice, I only offer training to advice to three kinds of people:
      (1) those who ask for it
      (2) those who are in immediate danger of injuring themselves,
      (3) those who are already doing a productive workout, and one or two tips might make it even better

      The first lot are 1/3 new members, as I said. The second lot are actually pretty rare, since gyms are designed to make hurting yourself take a deliberate effort. The last are not common, but I usually see a few each day, more than I have time to coach.

      I save the mockery and scorn for talking on my blog or with my friends.

      The front desk arranges the initial appointments for new members. They tell us in the gym that the reasons for refusal are invariably, "I'm experienced, I can do it on my own."

      Part of this is simply that many newbies are retreads. Every 2 years they join the gym for 3 months or so, going only 3 times in the first month and then never again. These rather expensive visits convince them they're "experienced" and don't need any advice.

      I've had my advice in the gym rejected on the same basis. Thinking now of a recent experience, I refrained from saying, "As a healthy young woman with no injuries, you've been at the gym 7 years and still can't do a pushup, would you care to share this experience with others?"

      But basically I just focus on those who ask for advice or who are already most of the way to a productive workout. This morning I had someone fail to show for one of her free appointments, but yesterday one of my members had messaged wanting a pump-up session, I saw her come in and offered the time to her instead.

      Training people who are genuinely interested keeps me too busy to have any time to bother with the deliberately ignorant. I don't mean that in a snobby way - I didn't get any cleaning or paperwork done in today's shift, either.

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    4. Absolutely. Like I said, I understand where you are coming from and your frustrations. I deal with some of them myself.
      My point in this post is that regardless of whether or not we see eye-to-eye with other people and what they are doing in the gym, it doesn't change the fact that we need to treat them kindly and be respectful of whatever they choose to do.

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    5. I took one personal training session, and she seemed to want to tell me what to eat, and sell me supplements. I like the group exercise, including the girly strength training, it keeps me sane. Otherwise, I just stick to walking and biking myself around town.

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    6. Hi Jen,

      I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your attitude in the article but even moreso in your response to Kyle. I think it shows that you are a very empathetic and compassionate person who is fair-minded and well-balanced in their approach to teaching and patterns of personal development.

      Although not a fitness expert, I am an anthropologist who is two years from receiving a phd. I advise on community development projects. Sometimes people have the very same attitude toward my expertise as they do to both yours and John. It's actually pretty common for people to resist advice from those more experienced than them. While it's frustrating, we really can't do any better than to try to educate them on alternate approaches to their own in an accessible and engaging way. I think you hit the nail on the head about people feeling intimidated or scared of making change or admitting that they need help. It's the job of experts in any field to learn to break down that barrier between 'us' and 'them'.

      Thanks for a great article. I wish I could come train with you! Your philosophy is amazing.

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  3. I really loved this post, thank you!

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    1. My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to reply!

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  4. Fabulous post! I think unchecked we can all be guilty of this kind of behaviour: remembering invariably it stems from insecurity (wanting to be "right") instead of strength can help keep that ego in check.

    A few years back, I could be seen sauntering oh-so-slowly along on a treadmill. Laughable, really... if you were unaware I'd spent the last four years bedridden, written off by medical science as incurable.

    Never does to assume you know what somebody else is dealing with. What their goals, their aims, their motivation, or their life is about. As the old saying goes, a truly great person will help others feel that they, too, can become great.

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    1. Hey there!

      Wow, such a great reminder that we truly have no idea what other people are dealing with or what their story is.

      I love that quote! Thanks for sharing!

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    2. I think that you really hit the nail on the head here. Stephen Covey, the 7 Habits Guy, said "seek first to understand, then to be understood." So much prejudice and judgement would go away if we could follow that advice.

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  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I get so ticked when I hear people bashing others when it comes to fitness. And I have to say I'm not 100% guilt free... I've done it before too. But as I become more and more involved in the fitness world I've really begun to realize that you don't know everyone's story. I just spent 6 weeks on the same 3 elipticals.... I wondered if others scoffed at me doing the same thing every day. It was because I had a pretty serious neck injury! And they wouldn't have known that. I try really hard not to judge others and what they are doing.... there is a reason they are doing what they do.... we just might not know what it is!

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    1. Hi Emily!

      I am also not 100% guilt free, but like you, as I evolve in the fitness world and gain knowledge, I realize the importance of being understanding and supportive. I have also realized it doesn't always have to be about being The Strongest, The Leanest, The Fastest, etc.

      I hope your neck is feeling better!

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  6. Absolutely spot on! I have been guilty of advocating my love of weight training over other forms of fitness and this has made me seriously think about different points of view. You have converted me to tolerance

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    1. Hello!
      I'm glad this piece spoke to you! I've also been guilty of shoving strength training down people's throats but that mindset has shifted for me recently. Happiness first, always.

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  7. Love this article, and yes, I hear you loud and clear! I'm happiest when doing yoga multiple times a week, doing strength training with a trainer, and swimming until my heart is content! I have had four trainers, one in which I dated. He is a fitness bully through and through! To him, everyone is "fat," or "skinny fat." Runners don't lift enough, body builders are useless and only cosmetic, powerlifters have no endurance, etc... he, and some trainers he works with, have a terrible tendency to negatively critique the people who come to their gym, and they only offer advice in hopes of persuading the client to buy training sessions.

    My best advice for fitness bullies is this: don't knock it until you've tried it. And even then, remember, we all have different fitness goals.

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    1. Hi Viki!
      Ouch - that trainer sounds so harsh, and like he unfortunately has a lot to learn. Bullying people into buying more training sessions is not the way to go!

      I agree wholeheartedly with the ol' "Don't knock it until you try it"! I've heard so many people rip on yoga but when I ask them about their experience with yoga - low and behold - they've never even tried it. Say whaaaat?? ;)

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  8. This is my story, too, and what I've been saying to friends, colleagues in the industry, and occasionally reminding myself of for 25 years. Thanks for writing & posting!

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    1. So glad you are behind me on this Tracy, spreading the health and support! It's so important!

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  9. I JUST read an entire article the other day mocking other fitness efforts.... I wish i could find it because this is the response I wanted.... Right on!

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    1. Hey Eric!
      If you happen to come across that article, I'd love to check it out! JenComasKeck@gmail.com

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  10. Great post! I understand why some people fall into the superior mindset when they are enlightened to the benefits of strength training (deadlifting, squatting, etc.), but I feel that it's even more enlightening to realize that it's not a bad thing to continue to utilize some of the more "bro" movements if you like them. They can certainly have their place!

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    1. Absolutely. Strength training has too many benefits to list and I'm a huge advocate... but there is definitely a place for the "bro" movements! ;)

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  11. Outstanding article!

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  12. This article is GREAT! Sometimes I feel judged by how much cardio I do. But I'm a runner through and through. Nothing and nobody will ever change that. I honestly love running. Bottom line: people just need to learn to accept people for who they are and what they do. :)

    Check out my blog http://runningsprinkles.blogspot.com :)

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    1. Hey Chelly!

      One thing I have learned about die hard runners is that they truly LOVE running, so why try to take that away from them? I absolutely agree with your bottom line: we, as a whole, need to be more accepting of people that are doing what makes them happy, as long as it's not hurting anybody else!

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    2. I personally admire runners because I am definately not cut out to be one :( I agree that working out should be about what you love and not everyone wants to be the strongest or have the most muscles. Not everyone wants to sit in a class, and not everyone wants to be a cardio goddess. Whatever! Just do your own thing and let everyone else do theirs!! We'll all be happy and hopefully more fit.

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  13. Hi great post! I fully agree, im also trying to inspire people to make their life fun with the mindset of everything is possible. Pls check out my site www.kirjonen.se got many videos With "alternative training", i gather up people and do fun things:)

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  14. I love this article. There's so much 'holier than thou' posturing when it comes to fitness related activities, it makes me want to downplay any association with it. It's getting to where you have to add "fitness/nutrition" to the list of things you don't discuss in casual conversation (religion, politics, how much you make, etc).

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    1. hahaha! I am with you on that one! Get a few people in the room that are either Vegan or Paleo and a war could break out! I've witnessed some pretty heated discussions about Crossfit, pilates, powerlifting, etc. Silly!

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  15. I loved reading this!! I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I hated working out and my body weight has shifted up and down for as long as I can remember. I just started working out with weights and I'm talking 3 pounders. I do it to try to tone. Otherwise for me, the only way I can even attempt to manage my weight is from sports like roller derby, classes like Zumba and W.E.R.Q. Why? Because it is fun! I don't give two licks how many pounds mr. Gym over there can lift and he shouldn't care about my hip shakin'. We are both getting what we want and need. So let's all be friends!!

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    1. Thank you! And I agree - do what makes you happy, let Mr.Gym do what makes him happy and lets all just get along! :)

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  16. Great post and definitely spot on. I would say some people are even "fitness snobs", and if you're not doing it their way, you're doing it wrong. As long as you're happy, safe, and healthy, who cares!

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    1. Hi Novella,
      I've definitely gotten that "fitness snob" vibe from some as well. You summed it up nicely - just be happy, healthy, and safe!

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  17. I am happy that you stopped and pointed out this matter. I am very lucky to be in a group of people who love it all respect it all and try it all within their limits and sometimes a bit past that. Now and than I fined myself judging for a second and I change my thought right away by remembering all the examples I have seen. I am working toward not having those thought at all.
    Hulya

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful group of people to be associated with, and I admire the fact that you are able to stop the judging dead in it's tracks!

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  18. This is a timely article for me Jen. Having a heart defect I CANNOT lift heavy; it seems like lately I have been increasingly seeing messages on many of the crossfit and kettle bell pages about how if you're not lifting heavy you're not doing it "right". Some even go so far as to say that doing anything else is a complete waste of time.

    I know they aren't speaking to me personally, but I can't help but to be hurt by these messages sometimes.

    So I just keep doing what I do, and incorporating the advice that I CAN incorporate into my routines and nutrition while saying alive by not overdoing it. :) I would love to see some of these "gurus" broaden their horizons by considering those with physical handicaps like myself, and helping us to become the strongest we can be with intelligently modified routines. To me that would make them deserving of the "guru" title.

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    1. Hello!
      Thank you for this comment. I am also guilty of the, "If you aren't lifting heavy, you aren't training" mindset. I will continue to work on this because you are right - not everybody CAN lift heavy (or wants to).

      I believe my girl Nia Shanks is working on an article right now that will touch on what to do if you don't want to (or can't) lift heavy. I think she said it'll be out within the next week or two. www.NiaShanks.com

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  19. This is a really great article! You hit the nail on the head and I so agree with you. As long as people are up doing something I am proud of them!! If or when they want to progress it's good for them to do it on their own terms when they have an interest in it. In the past if I did too much when I wasn't ready, that's how I fell of the exercise wagon time and time again, never making it past 3 months at a time.

    I recently started trying to lift heavy. I am mostly a class taker because it's what got me to the gym and out of my comfort zone for 2.5 years straight (Zumba, Yoga, Spin, Muscle fusion, HIIT (short class with tabatta training/light weights), and even abs because it's fun), so lifting heavy was a big step for me.

    At work when I talk about my routine people really are against lifting heavy weight, esp squatting. Even my husband says if I sneeze or have an itch while squatting that I will slip a disc. It's hard to want to keep lifting when people can be so negative about it. I met with a personal trainer and learned to do the moves correctly. I have to say the results are what keep me going and my friends that I have met at the gym! They are great support for sure! I love following the girls of Girls Gone Strong! Thank you so much for keeping up the good work :)

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    1. Hello!
      You make a great point here - pushing people to do what they are mentally not ready to do is a recipe for disaster. My fitness journey started in group fitness classes, too! I felt comfortable there, made a ton of friends, fell in love with it, eventually started teaching, which led to personal training, a Figure competition and then powerlifting. My journey evolved on it's own and I enjoyed every single phase of it and don't regret one moment of it. It's made me who I am today! We need to be respectful of everybody's journey and know that it will evolve and eventually take them somewhere else when they are ready for it.

      Congratulations on starting to lift heavy! That is so exciting! People can have some negative comments about it, but in their defense, it's probably due to lack of knowledge on their part. Take what they say with a grain of salt and keep doing what makes you happy. I'm thrilled to hear that you are getting wonderful results and so glad that you are supportive and enjoying Girls Gone Strong!

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  20. In a world where 'my way or the highway' seems to be more and more prevalent, this was a breath of fresh air! We need to encourage people to get moving and improve their health not bash them for their efforts because we think we know a better way. People will be more likely to maintain an active lifestyle if they enjoy the activities they are doing. Who are we to knock what someone else enjoys? Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Cathy,
      thank you very much for the support, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. In with the support and out with the judging!

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  21. Great article! Honestly as much is fitness is about health and well being, people have to enjoy it if they're going to do it, and if 'whoo-hooing' their hearts out in Zumba class affords them the same level of enjoyment as a PB in your deadlift, then I say who are we to judge? Thanks again for all your contributions, and LOVE the Girls Gone Strong!

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    1. Hi Miranda,
      heck yes! I will admit that I am still a fan of group fitness classes because I find them to be SO much fun! I always leave feeling so good about myself, drunk off endorphins, and with a huge smile on my face. I refuse to believe that is bad for me! ;)

      Absolutely my pleasure, and thank you for your support of GGS and myself!

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  22. Well said! Physical activity should be encouraged and promoted. There are too many variables at play (interests, goals, injuries, knowledge) to judge the workouts of others and be bullies. Everyone's sh$@ stinks. It is great that you are using your voice to remind people of this.

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    1. Thanks JD. I really appreciate that.
      ANY activity, I don't care what it is, is more beneficial to overall health than channel surfing on the couch!

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  23. Everyone I know does something different. Wii, DDR, running, belly dancing, Zumba, spin classes, weight lifting, hiking, roller derby. I must admit, the weight lifters in my life are the most annoying. They are the people who tell me what to eat, how to exercise, blah, blah, blah.

    My body lives for me, I don't live for my body. I love cheese cake and pie so I'm going to have some.....in moderation.....once or twice a month. I like to cook and I don't think scooping up some protien powder to add to water is an enjoyable experience. I'm going to have an egg and some peppers and there will be a piece of toast dammit. Oh, and someone that I'm genetically close to DIED OF COLON CANCER!!!! I need to eat fruits and vegatables and a bit of fiber thank you very much.

    I don't enjoy lifting weights and I get big. I know it's not possible for women according to a bazillion studies, but when I lift weights my clothes stop fitting and my measurements increase. I quickly build up the amount of weight I can comfortably do with my legs too. A trainer I used to have used to add weight and sit on the leg press machine because he thought it was impressive that I could press so much. People would walk by and say wow but all I kept thinking was, "but I said I didn't want to get bigger". My goals were ignored. I had to fight tooth and nail to get out of the training contract, but I made a huge fuss, had to get loud, and was able to get out of it. They were weird fitness zealots and I ran screaming. I eventually quit going to that gym all together. A good trainer finds out what motivates you and what your goals are. A bad trainer assumes that your goals and motivations are the same as theirs.

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    1. "A good trainer finds out what motivates you and what your goals are. A bad trainer assumes that your goals and motivations are the same as theirs."

      I couldn't have said this better. I see so many trainers that try and force their clients to stop running, stop taking Spin class, etc etc, and their client ends up being miserable. A trainer must figure out what is effective for their client and what will make them HAPPY, otherwise they will both fail.

      Delete
  24. How totally refreshing!
    I can't stand fitness snobs. As with everything: each to their own

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    1. Thanks Chris! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  25. From my experience, many people and GF instructors do not necessarily bash weight lifting, but it is obvious they feel as if GF classes are the way to go to lose weight/gain muscle. Granted, one of the reasons is because they see many class participants who have changed their bodies by participating in GF classes, and have not seen as many people changing by weight lifting.

    I completely agree with your post, "doing something rather than nothing," is what is most important. I would like to see people educating themselves a bit more though. This does not mean their knew found knowledge would have them stop doing an activity they enjoy, but instead, it would help them see that maybe a combination of things is what is best - but maybe not. Regardless, as long as they are not getting hurt and are truly happy with their activity and their results, then they should keep doing what they're doing.

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    1. I definitely understand what you are saying, and I agree that one should always continue their education and try to learn as much as possible so that we can find out what works best for ourselves and our clients. This is crucial since there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to training or nutrition.

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  26. Oh man, thank you so soooo much for this. I have carpal tunnel syndrome, I bet quite a few people think I am super lame for using lifting hooks for not very heavy lifts. I'm just happy there is something that allows me to lift at all. My grip will never be that great, and sometimes my hands act up if I have been painting a lot.

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    1. This is a great point, and even more proof that we just never know what somebody else is dealing with.
      Use your lifting hooks and use them with pride! :)

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  27. I totally agree 100%! I caught myself doing this A LOT as I got seriously into weight training and I had to finally tell myself to STFU. Now, if someone asks me my opinion, I am very carerful to render it ONLY as it relates to ME and what has worked for ME over the years. And although I will ALWAYS shout from the rooftops the importance of women and strenghtraining, I now know to shout it in my head only.
    My mantra: do YOU, boo.

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    1. I think that I love that you shout in your own head :) I completely understand what you are saying. I'm a huge advocate of strength training and the many benefits, but recently I've realized that not everybody cares or wants to hear about it! We have to know our audience.

      Your mantra is perfect!

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  28. I love this, girl. You posted many of the thoughts I've been having the past several months. I'll be referencing this article in one of my own next week. ;)

    Love you, girl. Thanks again for writing something that spreads such a positive, truthful message. I've been spreading it everywhere.

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    1. As always, I appreciate your support and luff you Nia Poo!

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  29. Absolutely fantastic post! I know a lot of people that will poke fun at other people's fitness choices at the gym, but as far as I am concerned, they are getting out and doing something when they could just be sitting around. Plus, if it makes them happy, who am I to judge?

    That being said, my trainer and I make up weird exercises all the time that probably look ridiculous, but actually have some crazy awesome benefits for whatever we are targeting that day, so we're probably both on the list of people that get laughed at. Personally, I don't really care since it's no one else's business.

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    1. Thanks Casey!
      Exactly. How can we judge somebody else's happiness? We can't!
      And as long as you and your trainer and doing safe things and you are happy then I say keep on keepin' on!

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  30. Great article Sis!!! I really really really like what you said!!

    Everyone has different goals, different challenges in life, current or past injuries that limit them, different ways to relieve stress or break up the daily grind, different levels of knowledge, different people/books/magazines telling them what is best, and different levels of commitment.
    Everyone is different and is going to work out accordingly. When people let other peoples work out stress THEM out it blows me away. Everyone should remember that what OTHER people do, doesn't limit you from achieving YOUR personal goals. Assist and help others if you can, but if they are happy, be happy for them! : )

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    1. "Everyone should remember that what OTHER people do, doesn't limit you from achieving YOUR personal goals. Assist and help others if you can, but if they are happy, be happy for them!"

      Pretty much my new favorite quote. Love you bro :)

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  31. What a well-said, well-written and just plain Great Post!

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  32. Thank you so much for writing and posting this! I've had to catch myself from muttering too loundly when That Guy takes all the 45 plates to do calf raises on the leg press, but really - if he needs them, he needs them - I only needed 4 of them... This is a good reminder to just chill and focus on your OWN fitness. And give everyone a smile and thumbs up for getting their gym-freak on in their own sweaty way.

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    1. Yes! A huge smile and thumbs up for working on fitness, period!

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  33. I couldn't agree more. You never know what someone's goals are, what they're training for, injuries they may be working around so you shouldn't judge and assume things based only on what you see.

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  34. Well said! There are way too many judgments flying around these days...a little introspection goes a long way. People are so quick to criticize and you have to wonder what they're trying to compensate for. The only thing I have a hard time with at the gym is the people who make excessive noise and throw weights!

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    1. Right! Our fitness is supposed to be something we do for us to make us feel good - no room for others to be judging us during that time.

      And I agree about barking and throwing weights - that is just bad gym etiquette!

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  35. Love this post! Thanks for spreading a little support to all those giving it their best and being happy with it.

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    1. My pleasure! We need to make fitness fun and friendly to make it more inviting for others!

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  36. Absolutely right! As long as people are moving beyond their everyday stuff, good for them. We seem to have forgotten that the principal aim of exercise is to get people healthy so they don't fall prey to metabolic diseases or non-communicalbe diseases as it is termed sometimes. Not to show off how much one can do or how good one is. And if there are people who do it all it is because they love the whole business.I personally love being physical, so I do it ALL.Heavy weights, HIIT, yoga, Zumba, step aerobics etc, etc. It gives me a real high everytime. I have been given a hard time because of that.I've been told I am a "show off". But I've learned" not to give a damn. "You do your stuff and I'll do mine." "Each to his own" LIVE AND LET LIVE!!

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    1. I'm right there with you Maya! I've been told often that I do too much, but I do it because it genuinely make me happy so... I don't care what people say! I do what works for me. Life is too short not to do what makes us happy!

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  37. Awesome post!!! Posting this blog to my wall.

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    1. Thanks Kim! I certainly appreciate the share and spreading the health! ;)

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  38. I've noticed this a lot lately as well - even from trainers - like a recent post that went something like "my client who's a woman did parallel rows with TRX bands on a bench while the muscle guy before her had his feet on the ground and was at a 45 degree angle, he walked away with his tail between his leg" geeze - well I would be the girl with her feet on the ground at a 45 degree angle - does that make me a looser because your female client is just so awesome?!

    Once again let's beat others down to pump ourselves up - sometimes I get this mental image of all the jocks in the high school cafeteria throwing their milk at whoever they feel is the looser of the day...oh adults

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    1. Malita, that is an excellent point. Thank you for that perspective! We all need to be careful of posting things like that because it can offend and hurt people's feelings.

      haha, except now we throw our protein shakes at each other ;)

      Delete
  39. Hell freakin' yes!!! Great article Jen. I share these same sentiments.

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    1. Thank you Bret! I'm excited that many people in the fitness community have been so supportive of this article. Hopefully it will make a difference in everybody's attitude as we move forward!

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  40. THANK YOU!!!!!! You are awesome! I have just removed a friend/crossfit coach out of my life, who did exactly what you are talking about...belittle all and everything that is not crossfit! She made fun of everyone. She was the best. All she did was try to make herself look good. Currently, I actually have a hard time with Crossfit because of this; she is the one that brought Crossfit into my life.

    Thank you for such an honestly view! We should be helping everyone obtain health! And honestly, everyone is at a different place in their life!!! So the person that is spinning could be just starting out and they will eventually turn to weightlifting. But its in all of us to help others by cheering everyone on! :)

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    1. Ugh, sounds like you made the right decision by eliminating that friend/coach from your life. It's draining to listen to somebody toot their own horn 24/7 and force their opinions on everybody else.
      The fact of the matter is that there is not only one way to do things. Different things work for different people and I feel like good coaches (both training and nutrition) know and respect that!

      And you are absolutely correct - where somebody is in their fitness journey will likely change as they grow and evolve, but we can't force them to change if they aren't ready. All we can do is support them and help them when they want it!
      Thanks for the great comment!

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  41. amazingness once agaiN! I love this and can SO relate. I myself need to watch myself even when I talk to clients who have certain obsession with the 'barre classes' or tracey anderson method that they do in their home. No, this is not something I would do, but if they enjoy it and it gets them moving...I am all for it! exercise should be FUN. if it werent fun, they it feels like a chore! As long as you are smiling while doing it...go for it!

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    1. Thanks Naomi!
      It is really challenging for me to refrain from making comments about certain activities as well, but so many people truly love Barre Class, or pilates, or whatever it may be, that I just can't bring myself to tell them that they shouldn't be having fun or enjoying it. haha!
      Now, if they ask me if I think it's effective, I am more than willing to give my honest opinion. But until then, I'm not going to swoop in and rain on their parade.

      Yay for happy workouts! :)

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  42. Meh, I don't care for bullying. What matters is whether your workout is helping you achieve your fitness goals; the rest is snobbery. For example, I'm trying to lose weight and get a six pack, using the methods in "The Truth About Six Pack Abs" (a really great program, my review of it is here). But I won't dump on someone else doing something different, so long as it's working for them.

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    1. Hi Matt!
      I agree with you completely. Why let what others are doing in the gym bother us? To each their own, and even if we disagree with it, as long as they are happy it's all good! ;)

      Good luck on your journey to the Six Pack and thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  43. Hi Jen, great article!, I am a strength coach, I'm just against those who threaten the health of their customers using their desperation to look better.Greetings from Argentina. ;)

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    1. Hello Ariel!
      I, too, am very much against that! Safety and health first, always!

      Delete
  44. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s really informative.

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  45. I really like this post and couldn't agree more. Especially in regard to the woman Viki who posted about the trainer bully that she knew. My cousin whom I've been trying to get into the gym absolutely refuses to go because he thinks the place is filled with people like Viki's trainer friend. I wholeheartedly support your work in this post. Thanks for writing it.

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    1. Hi Miles!

      Trainers like the one that Viki mentioned really rake on my nerves. As a trainer/coach myself, it is absolutely crucial that we support our clients, educate them, and help them become the best THEM possible. There is never any time for degradation or bullying!
      I wish coaches would understand that our job is just as dependent on psychology as it is physiology!
      Glad you enjoyed this post :)

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  46. Great article, I will make sure I share this with some of my friends who like myself can be guilty of being a "fitness bully" and it's totally not of our character. Very humbling piece! Thanks.

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    1. Hello!
      I have also been guilty of this and have been making a conscious effort to stop because you are right - being a bully is not part of my character or what I stand for!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Delete
  47. Great insights. I agree that fitness bullies can be a problem as well as nutrition bullies. People tend to get so passionate about their fitness that they sometimes don't realize when they are stepping on other people's toes and cutting them down as opposed to encouraging them. My hat is off to anyone who works out weather it is running, Crossfit, traditional sports, yoga, or whatever. I'd even go so far as to say the person working out with a shake weight is still doing more than the person who doesn't work out.

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    1. Hi Tom!
      Oh yes, the nutrition bullies are certainly out, and this post applies to them as well!
      I'm with you - I want to see people move their body and be happy!

      Delete
  48. Kinda mad I'm just getting around to reading this. What a very insightful article. Someone quick, forward or post this on mike boyle and dean sommerset's page. I had to learn this myself that as a powerlifter and a personal trainer not very one need to be freakishly strong.

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    1. Hello!
      I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. As a powerlifting dabbler myself, I got wrapped up in the "you-are-lame-if-you-aren't-insanely-strong" dogma myself. Needless to say, I have since gained some wisdom and pulled myself out of that ignorant mindset.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  49. I agree completely and enjoyed your post. As a trainer, I read and study many professionals who will disagree with the post but that doesn't change what they have to offer me. I take a bit of education from everyone and decide what works in MY gym. My clients need to like what they are doing for me to be a successful trainer. They need to feel like they are getting results, enjoying their time with me and WANT to come back. That means doing some frowned upon moves but guess what? If they are effective, and the clients are safe and they keep coming back? It's a win win situation. Thanks for putting it out there. I am beyond the guilt of putting lateral raises in my programming. Hopeful others will now let that go!!! And the critics will change their presentation.

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  50. I was too shy to be where my heart wanted to be in the gym when I started my fitness journey. I slowly worked my way up from hiding on the track/cardio area of co-ed gyms, through small women's only gyms and now (years later) I am in a co-ed gym again. Most of the time I'm there alone with 6+ guys and no women (where are the other women??!), huuuge step out of my comfort zone of years ago.
    I'm sure I'm not alone in my thinking that I don't want to be one of those 'uneducated' people working out where everyone is thinking 'wtf is she hoping to accomplish with that move?!' lol so I've educated myself along the way which has been a big part of my confidence booster. The best side effect of this is that I've basically cured myself of the chronic headaches I suffered and my digestion issues are basically gone! (trainers/nutritionists weren't an option for me due to finances).
    I ran a 40mile marathon this year. Weightlifting helped me survive that. (I only did it because I wanted the medals being offered, all 3 of them LOL) I have no desire to do another, but have huge, first-hand respect for those that do.
    I do catch myself wanting to shake the love of weight lifting and healthy lifestyle into those that choose a different path, but luckily I've refrained, so far... Why doesn't everyone love the Frankenstein movements when DOMs kick in??! ;)
    I do like to think I've become a great influence and inspiration to my clients (a few have said so) and family, but more so I'm hoping that this lifestyle will influence my daughter.
    Great, well written post!

    Alexis

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  51. I feel the same way about nutritional plans. We each have to find what works for OURSELVES. If there was a one size fits all (like many in the fitness industry would like us to believe), it would be easy. I have tried so many things but after many years have finally figured out what is working for me (kettlebells, running and a paleo lifestyle) but that doesn't mean it will work for everyone (especially if they can stick with it). Good article.

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  52. My problem is that NOTHING is working. It isn't my workout, it's my body. Something's off. But I go to the gym and lift, spin, rrun and so on because it is a tremendous stress relief. I AM strong, stronger than ever. I have power and endurance. I just don't LOOK like it. My muscles are hidden under a layer of fat that won't go. So, I get a TON of unwanted advice, often from people who have no CLUE what they're doing. I have enough experience to know what I'm doing SHOULD be slimming me down.

    It amazes me how many helpful trainers and gym members have given me unsolicited advice, then watched me for a month, then given up and gotten angry at me. OBVIOUSLY I am ignoring thier sage advice. Even when I show them how fit I am in terms of doing, they assume I'm doing something wrong. "She must be eating like a pig! " (far, far from it). So then comes the eating advice. I pay a dietician, thanks. She's flummoxed, too. I AM seeking more avice from different experts, but please, don't come up to me when I'm on the elliptical, machines or even in the locker room to give me advice unless I ask. I am perfectly aware that something's off, and I don't need reminding.

    But dont HATE me for something I can't control!

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  53. Just to add my two cents, as I have been amazed and infuriated by some of the responses to this from fitness professionals.

    You simply cannot know through looking at someone what they've been through or are currently going through. I go to the gym about 4 times a week. Sometimes I lift heavy, with proper squats etc., and do sprints, push ups and all the things I know are good to do.

    Other days I spend a long time moving relatively slowly on the elliptical machines, do some small weight bicep curls, and know that to some people it must look as though I'm wasting time or don't have a clue.

    Thing is, although you wouldn't guess by looking at me, I am constantly fighting an incurable progressive disease that flares up unpredictably. (RA) It particularly affects joints and levels of fatigue. I have educated myself and helped myself to the point where I am mostly out of the wheelchair I was in and living a full and active life, so the last damn thing I need is some pumped up trainer who doesn't have a clue judging me and trying to tell me what would work.

    You don't know that I'm waiting on two knee replacements, that my ankle bones grind together constantly as the joints are gone, that my shoulders send constant barbs of agony through me, or any of the other myriad daily facts of my physical existence. You have no specific knowledge about the nutrition that helps me survive, or how damn hard I've had to work just to stand up every day. So don't slap me on the shoulder (ouch, and get off) and boomingly announce that you could show me a better way to lose weight. Chemo took care of any weight loss needs I had thanks, so leave me alone and get off the pedestal you've put yourself on.

    Thank you Jen for your grown up approach to this. To other trainers who've commented about "mocking" people (seriously?!) please remember; you might be an expert in your field, but some of us are experts in ours too, and we are our own best experts on "us".

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    1. Well said Claire. And great article Jen. For those trainers who have said they have 'privately' mocked their clients on blogs or social media.... people can usually smell your arrogance a mile away & don't respond well to your suggestions because it's likely that you aren't very good talking to people in a non condescending way. I've learned more on liking fb pages than I have in any gym & I've been to all of the offered services.

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  54. Yes! So glad you posted this. There are not just fitness bullies, but nutrition bullies too.

    There are too many closed-minded fitness people (I would not call them professionals) with big mouths on Facebook & Twitter. No one is better than anyone else and there is more than one way to get the job done.

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  55. THANK YOU for writing this Jen. I know a few people guilty of this and it drives me crazy. Who cares if other people in the gym aren't doing what you're* doing or aren't working out as hard as you think they should be or are doing it "wrong" according to your fitness goals and beliefs? Maybe that's the best they can muster that day or maybe it fits THEIR goals or maybe it's just what they like doing. Same thing with nutrition. Fitness and wellness really is a journey and not everyone is at the same place in their journey. Everyone and every body is different. You do what you want and I'll do what I want, and maybe we can all support each other in the quest to be active and healthy!

    (*I of course mean the general "you", not YOU specifically Jen ;)

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  56. Oh Jen, your articles really speak to me! Every time I read one I think, "EXACTLY!"
    I definitely suffer from Fuck-around-itis occasionally, and take so much crap from one of my friends about it. But, like you, it really does make me happy, even if it's not the most efficient way to hit my "training goals." That said, my primary training goal is to be happy, so I suppose it probably is efficient... ;)

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