Research: Your Body is an Instrument and not an Ornament
A senior lecturer at the University of Derby (Buxton) recently wrote an interesting and thought provoking article that talked about a survey that was done in 1998 on 900 women, aged 18-24, to see how they felt about their body image, compared to what the media considers to be a more beautiful woman.
The 1998 survey highlighted that the average woman felt inadequate compared to the media images, and advertising that we are all subjected to every day. One alarming statistic was that 22% admitted to staying at home because they didn’t think they looked good.
The article that I was reading was in fact aimed at health and fitness professionals, like myself, and talked about our responsibility to our clients. A client-trainer relationship, as I am sure you appreciate, requires a certain level of intimacy.
The article identified how when people decide to consult a health professional it is vital, in the initial meetings that the trainer is aware of, and reacts appropriately to, the often negative self image some clients have, and understands where they need help and support. There can be a vulnerability and lack of confidence about the client that we need to tread very carefully with.
In the culture of large busy gyms/ health clubs it really made me sit up and think about the messages I give to my clients about body image and body dissatisfaction when they enter a gym and the pressure/ anxiety which they feel. How do I react when I sometimes hear comments such as: “I’m just soft all over” or “my arms are fat and they wobble?”
The main point the article raised was… “Do we perpetuate our own anxieties about our bodies through the work we do?” The answer if I’m honest in many gyms is no!! Many gyms and Personal Trainers display an image of body arrogance, often wearing slim fitting clothing with exposed arms/abdominals. This is the exactly same anxiety which causes 22% of the UK to stay indoors.
If you are reading this and considering having a personal trainer I would recommend you assess their approach to your goals and the empathy to what being healthy means to you…..and not the trainers ideologies. I’d appreciate honest feedback and comments so let me know what you think…..
If you do choose to have a personal trainer I hope that you find one who understands the position of power they have with you and realises the consequences of what might appear to be more flippant remarks. We are not here just to “fix” the machine, as Fiona put it, but to move our clients towards wellbeing and greater respect for their bodies and what you can achieve with those two arms and two legs.
If you live in the North West and want expert advice on certified personal trainers/ gyms in your area contact me with your details and I’ll recommend the best Solution for your own personal needs