Blog-Diet health supplements review - Livin Well Life https://livinwellife.com/category/blog-diet-health-review-supplements/ Find Latest Articles on E-Business, Affiliate Guides, Health, Fitness, Home & Garden, Business and Investing etc. Thu, 24 Nov 2022 16:15:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://livinwellife.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/cropped-livinwellfav1-32x32.png Blog-Diet health supplements review - Livin Well Life https://livinwellife.com/category/blog-diet-health-review-supplements/ 32 32 Adaptive Programming Q&A with ACE Pro Emily Kramer https://livinwellife.com/adaptive-programming-qa-with-ace-pro-emily-kramer/ https://livinwellife.com/adaptive-programming-qa-with-ace-pro-emily-kramer/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2022 16:15:41 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/adaptive-programming-qa-with-ace-pro-emily-kramer/ Adaptive Programming Q&A with ACE Pro Emily Kramer

Adaptive exercise programming is an often overlooked aspect of becoming an inclusive and well-versed fitness professional. People with physical, developmental and traumatic impairments deserve every opportunity to participate in safe and supportive movement practices and, here at ACE, we hope to inspire a community of professionals that are prepared to train and coach people of […]

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Adaptive Programming Q&A with ACE Pro Emily Kramer


Adaptive exercise programming is an often overlooked aspect of becoming an inclusive and well-versed fitness professional. People with physical, developmental and traumatic impairments deserve every opportunity to participate in safe and supportive movement practices and, here at ACE, we hope to inspire a community of professionals that are prepared to train and coach people of all abilities. So, when we came across ACE Pro Emily Kramer and the small-group adaptive training program she created at her gym, Kaizen Athletics, we thought we’d ask her some questions about how she develops her adaptive exercise program and why it’s so important to her.

(Photos Courtesy of Kaizen Athletics)

ACE: What inspired you to start an adaptive training program?

Emily: It all stated when I went to a local fitness event where they were holding multiple workouts throughout the day to honor fallen soldiers. Virginia Beach is a big military town so our community is always working together to give back to our veterans, wounded warriors and their families. The workout that I participated in had a handful of upper and lower extremity amputees and they were doing the workout with me! I’ll never forget them doing box jumps next to me, running with their blades, deadlifting a barbell with modalities wrapped around their chests. I was blown away by their ability to work around their impairments. I was also moved by their mental fortitude. Making the choice to not use their impairments as an excuse either. I knew at that moment I needed to give back to this population and create a space where adaptive athletes can come in for fitness, friendships, education, mindset, and a sense of community. My first adaptive athlete was a veteran with a spinal cord injury. We helped him regain his independence again. Fast forward to today, we have a wide variety of adaptive athletes that we meet with 3x a week. Our program is called Kaizen Adaptive Training.

Photo Courtesy of Kaizen Athletics

(Photo Courtesy of Kaizen Athletics)

ACE: Who is your adaptive program made for?

Emily: Kaizen Athletics provides an all-inclusive training facility for individuals with long-term physical or traumatic impairments (visible/invisible) through movement and community. We make fitness training accessible and inclusive for everyone, regardless of ability. It is an honor to serve our Wounded Warriors, Veterans, First Responders, Law Enforcement Officers and our Adaptive Community.

ACE: What special considerations are there when creating an adaptive program?

Emily: You always want to make sure the adaptive athletes coming in are a good fit for small-group training. You should also try to understand them as a person. We have an application process in place to ensure proper scope of practice.  

We first discuss their body functions and structures (responsiveness, movements they can/cannot do, etc.) and if there are any physiological functions which are classified as invisible wounds (TBI, PTSD, behavioral. Etc.)… something you can’t see on the outside, but something they are dealing with on the inside. 

 They let us know if they have any limb loss or any loss of body function (paralysis.)

We have them discuss their goals and what they are currently able to do with or without assistance. We ask them if they participate in any other form of physical activity. Most of our adaptive athletes still attend some sort of physical therapy or occupational therapy, as well as brain therapy. We work hand in hand with these PTs and OTs and it’s truly an honor to have their support! 

We then screen and assess these applicants. 

We have them fill out a waiver and a PAR-Q which includes full details on their injury history, medication list, contraindications, risks, etc. If need be, we will ask for a doctor’s note saying they are able to exercise and [whether or not] they have any restrictions for participation. We then assess these athletes in a group setting. These workouts are fast paced so we want to make sure they are a good fit; we assess their function and mobility. We also assess their independence level and we then discuss their goals. If they are a good fit, we sign them up on our scheduling app where they can book classes each week.   

(Photo Courtesy of Kaizen Athletics)

ACE: Why do you think movement/exercise is important for those with long-term physical or traumatic impairments?

Emily: I am a strength and conditioning coach and I educate our adaptive athletes on functional fitness. Functional fitness movements are going to mimic ADLs(activities of daily living) outside of the gym. They are “natural movements” that make your activities of daily living possible. The main goal of this is to help each each athlete regain their strength, mobility and independence.

Some examples of functional movements that I coach:

The Deadlift (mimics picking something up off the floor)

The Air Squat (mimics getting on/off a chair, on/off the toilet)

Cleans (picking something up and putting on a table)

– Presses (mimics putting something away in a cabinet or shelf)

Pushups and burpees (being able to pick up your own body off the floor)

 ACE: What do fitness professionals need to know before training someone with impairments?

Emily: Right now, I’m working a-lot with spinal cord injury survivors, gunshot victim survivors, stroke survivors, brain cancer survivors, amputees, and individuals with invisible wounds such as TBIs or PTSD.  I pride myself on being able to modify/scale for any athlete that walks through my doors. This takes time and hours of coaching to feel comfortable working with the adaptive population. My suggestion would be to immerse yourself in continuing education. The more you can take in, observe, get hands on experience, the better coach you will be.

ACE: What do you see a lot of fitness professionals get wrong when it comes to adaptive training?

Emily: Not being prepared. If you know an adaptive athlete is coming into your gym for a class, be prepared. Know what you’re going to do for them that day. Have a lesson planned, prepared, and have any scale/modifications ready for when you start their class.

ACE: Your tuition is 100% donation based. Why did you go that route?

Emily: We made this program 100% donation based because we know the financial burden of having a physical or traumatic impairment is very costly. We wanted to take the finances out of the equation.

Our community is extremely supportive as well. They provide constant donations that we put towards the program to ensure these athletes get free classes as well as extra equipment or modalities they may need.

ACE: What other tips do you have for fitness professionals when it comes to creating a more inclusive and accessible training environment?

Emily: When creating the workout for the group class, make sure everyone is doing the same workout. Scale or modify for the athletes that need it but, always have them moving together.

I have also seen the benefits of fitness and how it affects not only their physical health but also their mental health, especially for the adaptive community. They are surrounded by other individuals in similar circumstances and they are able to vent, discuss, ask for advice or give advice, talk about medications, or struggles that they are having. These friendships are what keeps them coming back to your gym!

(Photo Courtesy of Kaizen Athletics)

Want to learn more about adaptive training? Check out these ACE continued education courses:

And to see more of what Emily is doing with her adaptive program at Kaizen Athletics you can visit www.kaizenathleticsvb.com.



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The Missing Link Between You and a Six-Figure Online Fitness Coaching Business https://livinwellife.com/the-missing-link-between-you-and-a-six-figure-online-fitness-coaching-business/ https://livinwellife.com/the-missing-link-between-you-and-a-six-figure-online-fitness-coaching-business/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2022 16:14:42 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/the-missing-link-between-you-and-a-six-figure-online-fitness-coaching-business/ The Missing Link Between You and a Six-Figure Online Fitness Coaching Business

The One Thing You Need to Commit to Mastering You need to keep in mind countless things when you’re trying to scale your online fitness coaching biz. There’s also a long list of things you need to be strong at so that the business can flourish. I know it must feel overwhelming but listen to me […]

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The Missing Link Between You and a Six-Figure Online Fitness Coaching Business


The One Thing You Need to Commit to Mastering

You need to keep in mind countless things when you’re trying to scale your online fitness coaching biz. There’s also a long list of things you need to be strong at so that the business can flourish. I know it must feel overwhelming but listen to me very carefully.

If ever there was ONE thing you needed to commit to mastering, it’s this…

The ability to connect with your ideal client.

Why?

Because if your ideal client doesn’t honestly believe that you understand where they’re coming from, then they won’t feel like you’re the right person to can help them.

It’s that simple.

Everything boils down to your ability to connect with your potential clients.

Now, what are some simple ways you can guarantee that you’ll be able to connect with your ideal clients consistently on a high level?

Ask Thoughtful Open-Ended Questions

Reflect back on some of the best conversations you’ve ever had throughout your life. I’m willing to bet that the other person asked you thoughtful, open-ended questions.

These questions gave you repeated opportunities to open up and share things about your life.

Some of them might have encouraged you to be vulnerable.

Several others made it easier for you to trust the person you talked to.

Long story short, the person on the receiving end was able to better understand your experiences (good and bad).

An emotional bridge was built. 

And you both crossed it together to get to the other side. 

Do the same for your ideal clients.

Boom.

Actively Listen to Their Responses

Now, this next step is crucial. Shut your mouth and ACTIVELY listen while the person is talking to you or messaging with you.

Show them you’re 100% focused on them by repeating back key things they mention to you that are obviously important to them.

This will prove that you’re paying attention and not trying to multi-task.

There’s no better way to destroy the potential for building a connection with someone than not listening to them.

Listen, learn, and wait for your opportunity to show them how you can add value to their life.

Follow the 90/10 Rule

This is where we get to the juicy stuff. Have you guys ever heard of the 90/10 rule? No?

Let me break it down for you:

Allow the potential client to speak for around 90% of the conversation. You talk for the other 10%.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking…

“If they’re doing all the talking, how am I supposed to show them the value of my program?”

You’re empowering your ideal client to tell you exactly what they’re hoping to find by working with you.

You’ve been asking thoughtful, open-ended questions. Actively listening to their responses. You know precisely what they need because they told you.

There’s no need to yammer on and on about your kids. Or your dog. The client doesn’t want to hear you talk about the weather.

Give them a personal example or two when they tell you their current challenges.

Show empathy and that you understand where they’re coming from. But then show them how your program fits their specific needs and lifestyle. Why your program is guaranteed to empower them to achieve their desired results.

Because you’ll be crafting it according to everything they told you they needed while talking to you.

Connect with your ideal clients, my friends. It’s the missing link between you and a six-figure online fitness coaching biz.

 

This blog originally appeared on our partner’s website at www.theceownedcoach.com and has been republished with permission. To read more about what ACE is doing with CEOwned, click here!



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Tips for Training Clients with PTSD https://livinwellife.com/tips-for-training-clients-with-ptsd/ https://livinwellife.com/tips-for-training-clients-with-ptsd/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2022 16:13:15 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/tips-for-training-clients-with-ptsd/ Tips for Training Clients with PTSD

A few years ago, while training a client at the gym, there was a loud crash in the weight room, followed by one of the gym members angrily yelling and swearing at the member who dropped the barbell full of weight plates. Turns out, she was a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and […]

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Tips for Training Clients with PTSD


A few years ago, while training a client at the gym, there was a loud crash in the weight room, followed by one of the gym members angrily yelling and swearing at the member who dropped the barbell full of weight plates. Turns out, she was a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the loud crash was a trauma trigger for her.

 

What Is PTSD?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PTSD can develop after someone experiences a traumatic event, including combat, an accident, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or a crime (including sexual crimes). People with PTSD may experience flashbacks or nightmares, which may be recurrent, and might also avoid activities or places that remind them of the event; they also tend to experience emotional “numbing.” PTSD may put one’s nervous system on high alert (hyperarousal), always ready to fight or flee, making them more easily startled and creating difficulty with sleep and concentration. Someone with PTSD may also experience guilt for surviving the trauma when others did not.

While PTSD has been around for ages, it’s only been recognized as an official diagnosis since 1980. According to a 2018 review in Military Medical Research, in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 5 (DSM-5), PTSD is classified into 20 symptoms with four clusters: intrusion, active avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and marked alterations in arousal and reactivity.

People with PTSD tend to avoid traditional therapy, not wanting to have to relive the experience with a therapist, according to Robert Motta in the book Psychology of Health. Motta also describes how PTSD tends to change the person on every level, involving an alteration of one’s sense of self, as well as one’s view of their environment.

Exercise and PTSD

Because those with PTSD tend to avoid traditional treatment, it’s important to find evidence-based alternative treatments that are safe and effective that can help move them toward healing. There have been hundreds of studies done that show the benefits of exercise on anxiety and depression. Because anxiety and depression are both a part of PTSD, it would seem logical that exercise may also help ease the symptoms of PTSD.

Turns out, there does seem to be a connection.

Motta cites several studies in support of exercise for PTSD, particularly aerobic exercise, in a chapter in Psychology of Health entitled, “The Role of Exercise in Reducing PTSD and Negative Emotional States.” One such study was a 2017 longitudinal study published in General Hospital Psychiatry that suggests strenuous exercise has a beneficial effect on PTSD symptoms, including avoidance/numbing and hyperarousal, and that total exercise had positive benefits on avoidance/numbing.

In a 2019 review in Frontiers in Psychiatry, researchers reviewed 19 studies examining aerobic exercise and PTSD symptomatology and found that the evidence so far supports aerobic exercise as a stand-alone intervention or an adjunct to standard treatment for PTSD.

But what about other forms of exercise?

One 2022 review in Military Medicine found that out of the studies they reviewed, there was no significant differences seen among various types of exercise in terms of their effects on PTSD symptoms. In other words, whether it was yoga, high-intensity or low-intensity activity, or group or individual activity, they all seemed to have a beneficial influence on PTSD symptoms.

Post-traumatic Growth

As a health and exercise professional, you may be able to play a special role in the healing process of clients with PTSD. Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive psychological change that can occur following a traumatic event(s), per a 2016 review in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

An example of PTG would be parents who lose a child and instead of allowing the grief to swallow them up for the rest of their lives, they start an organization to help other families going through similar situations. It’s taking your pain and using it for good—including your own personal growth.

PTG also includes mindful resilience, which, according to Jason Linder, PsyD, in a Psychology Today article, includes present-focus, flexibility, tolerating uncertainty and self-knowledge/self-control.

Guidelines for Helping Clients with PTSD

 As a health and fitness professional, there are some guidelines that will help you help them get the most from your sessions together if a client is experiencing PTSD; however, it’s important to always stay inside your scope of practice.

Christian Koshaba—a US Air Force veteran, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of veteran-focused gym Three60fit—says its best to avoid classifying a person with PTSD as a victim. “Do not bring the attitude of ‘feeling sorry’ for the individual,” says Koshaba. “They want to be treated with respect, not as a charity case.”

In addition, Koshaba recommends the following:

  • Create an environment conducive to the veteran’s emotional and mental state. “Some veterans crave the camaraderie and group atmosphere, whereas some veterans who may be potentially triggered by loud noises and groups need a more intimate quiet experience,” says Koshaba.
  • Research more about PTSD and learn about potential triggers. “Build a rapport with the individual and try not to be too invasive with their military experience. Some veterans desire to open up and speak about their trauma, whereas others may not be inclined to speak about it,” says Koshaba.
  • Find common ground. “What stories and experiences can you share to make them feel welcome and allow them to trust you and see that you can empathize with them?” asks Koshaba. The Wounded Warrior Project adds a word of caution regarding how you empathize with your client: Avoid saying things like “I know how that feels…” or “That’s just like when I…” Everyone’s feelings and experiences are unique, so avoid comparing your own experiences to theirs.
  • Initially avoid vigorous activity. “Learn the veteran’s physical limits. Inducing too much of an increased heart rate can mimic the fight or flight response and send the individual into a trauma-related experience or memory,” advises Koshaba.

Another tip that some have found helpful when teaching classes to those with PTSD is to lock the door to the studio before class starts. Depending on the cause of the PTSD, this can create an environment that feels safe. It’s important to let clients know that this is a practice of yours in an effort to encourage them to be there on time.

Working with veterans and others with PTSD can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Research more about the condition and learn as much as you can before announcing that you work with those with PTSD. Volunteering at local veteran-related organizations can be a great way to gain more knowledge, meet veterans in your community and build rapport before offering your services to them.

 

Additional Resources

 Veterans Yoga Project

United Brain Association

Wounded Warrior Project

US Department of Veterans Affairs

 

 



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12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Fitness Business https://livinwellife.com/12-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-my-fitness-business/ https://livinwellife.com/12-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-my-fitness-business/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2022 08:32:11 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/12-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-started-my-fitness-business/ 12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Fitness Business

I started my fitness career 20 years ago, in 2003. As I reflect on why it began, how it began, and how it’s going, I become more aware of what I wish I had known starting out. At the time I graduated, I did not realize that you only graduate with a degree – not […]

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12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Fitness Business


I started my fitness career 20 years ago, in 2003. As I reflect on why it began, how it began, and how it’s going, I become more aware of what I wish I had known starting out. At the time I graduated, I did not realize that you only graduate with a degree – not a career. The degree symbolizes your commitment to, and success in, a particular area of study… what comes next is up to you. My hope in sharing these musings is twofold: First, that the messages resonate with some of you who are veterans in the industry. Second, that what I share might guide a new professional as they begin their unique journey forward. Here, I share 12 lessons I wish I had known 20 years ago.

 

  1. The value of rapport. I began this journey thinking if I just know the science, pieces will fall into place. This is only half true. Rapport is the foundation of all we do – not the science. Our knowledge of science informs a direction forward in program design; however, there are no programs to design if we do not prioritize building relationships with those we serve first.
  2. The power of networking. No one achieves success alone. The work we do with clients requires a team approach. You are far more successful when you surround yourself with individuals who have different talents and scopes than you bring to the table. Not only does this benefit you, but this also elevates your clients’ experiences with you.
  3. Assessments are not always the first priority. I realized a few years into my experience that I can treat every movement as an assessment without subjecting a client to a full battery of assessments. Assessment selection should be deliberate as well as goal driven and consider the skills, abilities and activity history of the client.
  4. The value of setting boundaries. I was, as many are, eager to get started and “do it all well.” Here’s where I went off course. You can either do it all or do it well. I’m guessing you want to do it well over doing it all. Set boundaries, which includes when you are available to clients (response time, how you will communicate, etc.). You cannot be available 24/7/365 and create success; you will achieve little more than burnout and a waning interest in your work. Carve out “you” time to recharge and consider that time “nonnegotiable”.
  5. Programming for recovery. I naively thought that if I told clients to stretch and recover, they would. I learned, much later than I should have, that I need to include those elements in their programs and provide them with at-home dynamic recovery and mobility and stability exercises. I also learned that I needed to guide them through active recovery at the end of each session.
  6. Abandoning the plan is ok. Clients’ motivation can wane just like ours. They come to us with their stress, their stories, their celebrations, and concerns. Some days, it’s okay to scrap the session you have planned and engage in a walk and talk or a relaxing restorative yoga session. It’s still movement and it is, at times, what you both need.
  7. Impostor syndrome is common. For the longest time, I questioned my “enoughness” and forgot that I have so much to offer the industry, my clients, my learners, my family and friends. I started viewing these moments of questionable confidence as opportunities to learn and advance my knowledge and skill.
  8. Every coach needs a coach. Yes, we are experts in our fields, and we are solidly credentialed and educated. But, we still need a support system that can help us recognize and change habits and behaviors that might be holding us back from achieving the best version of who we want to be. Find a mentor. I started mentoring for this reason and it is honestly one of the best parts of my career.
  9. Do what scares you. I am far more introverted than I am extroverted, so it takes immense energy and courage for me to put myself out there. The idea of presenting at a national conference or in a live webinar is initially terrifying. But I learned to advance, you must challenge yourself and be willing to be challenged by what scares you. Use that energy as good energy to drive you forward. It leads to amazing places.
  10. Business knowledge is a must. We are scientists by trade and education. However, running your own business is a uniquely challenging prospect. Take time to learn how to do this and how to do it well. Make business classes a part of your continuing education plan.
  11. Motivational Interviewing is a necessary skill. Learn about this tool. Use this tool. Doing so will help you guide your client in such a way that they become confident and capable travelers along their journey to change.
  12. Trust your own brilliance. I found many of the challenges I once faced were because I lacked a necessary ingredient to being successful – confidence. Even though I had two degrees and a high-quality certification, I somehow felt under-prepared and found ways to question myself instead of going with my instinct and placing faith in my skills. You aren’t expected to know everything – that just isn’t realistic. First, trust in your knowledge and be comfortable with the fact that you won’t always know what to do or have the “right” answer. Second, commit to learning more as you grow in your professional role and experience and share your expertise with your clients. Lastly, if you find yourself questioning as I did, conduct a SWOT analysis to remind yourself of your strengths and identify what opportunities there are for skill expansion and knowledge improvement.

 

The list of “what I wish I knew then” transcends these 12 lessons, but these are the lessons that I consider to be the most valuable. Embracing the knowledge I gained from these lessons has done more to shape and advance my career than any degree. Experience is the toughest teacher, but it is also the most honest one. Be open to learning and growing in ways that you least expect, and you will soar mightily.

 

 





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New Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Course! https://livinwellife.com/new-size-inclusive-fitness-specialist-course/ https://livinwellife.com/new-size-inclusive-fitness-specialist-course/#respond Sat, 20 Aug 2022 07:51:43 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/new-size-inclusive-fitness-specialist-course/ New Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Course!

ACE partnered with Louise Green, creator of the Size Inclusive Fitness Academy (SITA), to launch the new Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist course, which was released last month. Creating this course is part of ACE’s larger effort to help build a more inclusive fitness industry.  Louise is also an author, educator, and award–wining fitness trainer who’s […]

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New Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Course!


ACE partnered with Louise Green, creator of the Size Inclusive Fitness Academy (SITA), to launch the new Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist course, which was released last month. Creating this course is part of ACE’s larger effort to help build a more inclusive fitness industry. 

Louise is also an author, educator, and award–wining fitness trainer who’s expertise has been featured by over 150 media outlets and is highly specialized training to remove barriers and help get your larger bodied clients moving in a sustainable way. We connected with Louise to chat with her about the importance of this course and how we can all work to become more inclusive fitness professionals. 

 

ACE: Why is the Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist course important?

Louise: The Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Course is incredibly important because we are dealing with a population who are marginalized and often this carries over into fitness spaces. Our industry has typically lacked in size inclusivity and as a result, has created barriers for people in larger bodies to access fitness spaces. As the numbers continue to rise in the larger bodied population, now sitting at almost 70% of the USA population, fitness professionals have an opportunity to be a driving catalyst to creating lasting health outcomes for this population. If we can educate fit pros to specialize in this area, we have a huge opportunity to make a very big impact on the health of the nation.

ACE: What do you think is important for fitness professionals to understand around weight bias?

Louise: It is important for fitness professionals to understand that weight bias is very pervasive and that we live in such a weight bias society that the bias itself is normalized. The data shows that weight bias is more harmful than having a higher weight as the bias encompasses the individual both from societal pressures and internalized weight bias. The mental health outcomes on internalized weight bias can have devastating affects, and weight bias overall creates a high-level barrier for individuals to surmount. The problem is, many trainers and organizations don’t realize they are operating with weight bias due to this bias being so widely accepted and normalized in western society.

ACE: How did you get into this work and can you tell us more about SITA?

Louise: I had a very profound experience back in 2004 when I joined a running program [and] my coach was plus-size. She was the very first plus-size woman I had seen in fitness leadership, or anywhere for that matter. She had a body like mine and trained me to be athlete without any verbiage about calorie expenditure or diet culture. I had never approached exercise from that position and it was the catalyst that lead me to… become a fitness professional. In 2007, I opened the first plus-size fitness bootcamps in Canada and ever since I have been training, teaching, speaking and writing on the topic of size-inclusion and fitness for all. I opened the Size Inclusive Training Academy after developing the Size Inclusive Fitness Specialist Program which has now educated trainers from all over the world.

 

ACE: How do you think fitness pros can help improve a client’s body image?

Louise: I think it’s important to work with clients from a weight neutral position and I know many trainers will find this a difficult shift but here’s why… Most often, people in larger bodies have battled their body for a very long time. They often dislike their bodies and deal with weight bias surrounding their body size almost daily. Some have had traumatic experiences in fitness and wellness spaces, such as being brought to diet programs as a young child, forced to run by parents after school to lose weight, or have been bullied to no end. Fatness in America is one of the most devalued identities and this client feels this as a part of their regular life. Most people living in a larger body already feel that their body is wrong and live with internalized weight bias.

The biggest thing a fitness professional can do is to not contribute to the weight bias and negative experiences this client has already endured. Make the client feel like their body is on their side and that their body is capable, train and treat them like an athlete. When we hone in on weight loss and restriction with clients who have a long history of body distrust, hatred or trauma, we are actually inflicting more pain into the situation. Work with clients to build them up [and] don’t talk about getting them down to a certain size or weight. We know that with regular exercise health markers improve, people feel better, and, when we empower our clients through exercise and uphold their bodies, their confidence levels rise high.

 

ACE: What is one tip you have right now for everyone reading this to become a more size-inclusive fitness professional?

Louise: Representation matters. It is extremely powerful. Remember that having a coach who looked like me, only one woman, change the trajectory of my life and health. Take a moment to do an audit of your website, marketing material, social media and take note as to how much size diverse representation you have. Further to that, and if you do in fact represent body size diversity, examine how the larger bodied people in your marketing and social media are positioned. Are they tokenized? Are they weight loss fitspo? I talk a lot about how weight bias can seep through images in how we position larger bodies and how stock photography can be a breeding ground for harmful stereotypes and weight bias. Images, copy and messaging should be empowering while considering this individual’s difficult lived experience and the barriers they face when approaching fitness and wellness spaces.

 

 

Interested in learning more? Click here to register for the Size Inclusice Fitness Specialist course and here to learn more about what Louise is doing with SITA.

 

Louise also collaborated on the ACE CEC “A Space for Every Body: Addressing Weight Bias in the Fitness Industry.”



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LGBTQIA+ Youth and Physical Activity https://livinwellife.com/lgbtqia-youth-and-physical-activity/ https://livinwellife.com/lgbtqia-youth-and-physical-activity/#respond Tue, 28 Jun 2022 06:01:03 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/lgbtqia-youth-and-physical-activity/ LGBTQIA+ Youth and Physical Activity

In recognition of 2022’s Pride Month, ACE recently hosted a Facebook Live conversation discussing LGBTQIA+ youth and their relationship to physical activity. Before diving into that discussion, let’s begin by defining each element of that acronym:  L – Lesbian   G – Gay   B – Bisexual   T – Transgender   Q – Queer or Questioning  I – […]

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LGBTQIA+ Youth and Physical Activity


In recognition of 2022’s Pride Month, ACE recently hosted a Facebook Live conversation discussing LGBTQIA+ youth and their relationship to physical activity. Before diving into that discussion, let’s begin by defining each element of that acronym: 

L – Lesbian  

G – Gay  

B – Bisexual  

T – Transgender  

Q – Queer or Questioning 

I – Intersex  

A – Asexual or Ally 

+ – Other non-heterosexual people 

The conversation was moderated by Fred Hoffman, a member of the ACE Board of Directors who has been an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor for more than 35 years. Fred is the founder and owner of Fitness Resources, an education and consultancy company for health clubs, fitness centers, boutique studios and personal-training companies. Joining him was Scott Greenspan, PhD, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. As a practitioner, Dr. Greenspan works with youth, families and schools to develop systems that foster affirming mental health and behavioral supports. He has led several research projects focused on LGBTQIA+ youths’ experiences in school-based sport and physical activity. He has published his work in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of LGBT Youth, Adolescent Research Review and Psychology in the Schools. 

The World Health Organization recommends that youth get about 60 minutes of physical activity each day. While most health coaches and exercise professionals know the sad reality that the vast majority of America’s youth are falling well short of that goal, LGBTQIA+ youth actually perform less physical activity than their non- LGBTQIA+ counterparts.  

“It’s not because they can’t engage in sports or they don’t like sports or physical activity,” explains Dr. Greenspan. “It’s really that a lot of the physical-activity settings [are places in which they have to navigate] a lot of discrimination, victimization and harassment, and a lot of LGBT youth feel unsafe. The environments in which we are promoting and fostering physical activity are not allowing youth to feel safe and supported, so it’s sadly predictable.” 

To be more specific, LGBTQIA+ youth often feel very unsafe in places like locker rooms and actively try to avoid them due to bullying in the form of anti-LGBTQIA+ language and physical harassment. This bullying, coupled with too little intervention from staff or other students, leaves LGBTQIA+ students feeling unsafe. This negatively impacts not only their desire or ability to participate in physical activity, explains Dr. Greenspan, “but also their psychological well-being, life satisfaction [and] confidence, which is going to lead to a host of negative mental health outcomes.” 

It’s important to note that the creation of a welcoming and affirming environment and culture will yield benefits beyond participation in physical activity. According to Dr. Greenspan, LGBTQIA+ youth who engage in school-based sport are typically also involved with other extracurricular activities, meaning that they probably feel like they belong and have a positive relationship with their school. Which comes first, the participation or the positive feelings, is likely tough to gauge, but there’s little doubt that a welcoming environment enhances the overall well-being of LGBTQIA+ youth. 

The Role of Health Coaches and Exercise Professionals 

There is clearly a lot of work to be done to transform settings that are currently seen to be “unsafe” by many members of this community into environments that are welcoming, affirming and empowering for LGBTQIA+ youth. While Dr. Greenspan’s research into the topic of LGBTQIA+ youth and physical activity has focused on the school setting, much of it can be translated to the world of fitness. Here are some suggestions for how you can become an ally: 

  • Engage youth in the conversation about what it means for a setting to be affirming: If you have the opportunity to connect with local LGBTQIA+ youth (for example, through a high school club or community center group), ask what barriers and facilitators they have experienced when it comes to physical activity. Also, ask what you can do as a professional or in your facility to foster more inclusive practices. Then, translate what you learn into visible changes in your signage and representation. Dr. Greenspan highlights the importance of visibility as an ally to LGBTQIA+ youth. Behind-the-scenes changes are great, but visibility is vital. 
  • Connect with schools that have Gender and Sexuality Alliances: Do some outreach and explain how your fitness facility is a welcoming, safe and affirming place, and offer physical-activity events for the Alliance. These student organizations may not currently be thinking much about physical activity, so asking them what types of events they’d like to see in the community and then offering them to the group is a great way to initiate a supportive relationship. 
  • Be mindful about language: People often undervalue the importance of things like using proper pronouns or chosen names when speaking to others, but we know that when youth are addressed by their chosen pronouns, it decreases the risk of depression and suicide. So, add pronouns to your name tag to signal that “we share our pronouns here” and normalize that conversation. Then, take the time to learn people’s chosen pronouns and names.
  • Take a careful look around your facility: Does your staff feature LGBTQIA+ individuals? Does your signage use gender-neutral language and feature LGBTQIA+ athletes? What types of uniforms are staff members asked to wear? Do you provide gender-neutral locker rooms or restrooms? Take a step back from your day-to-day work and evaluate your facility from the perspective of a first-time visitor. Or, better yet, ask a friend or colleague who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community to visit during business hours and provide some feedback. 

In Conclusion 

No one wants to exercise in a fitness facility where they feel unwelcomed, and LGBTQIA+ youth are no different. Unfortunately, many communities, rec centers, fitness facilities and schools are not seen as safe spaces, and it’s going to take a lot of work to change not only the reality of that situation but the perception as well. So, if you are interested in making a difference in the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth,  connect with existing resources, from school guidance counselors and psychiatrists to local community centers and national organizations like The Trevor Project, and then collaborate with like-minded individuals to bring meaningful change to the lives of these children and teens.  



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ACE Pro Compass to Provide Unprecedented Ongoing Career Support to ACE Certified Professionals https://livinwellife.com/ace-pro-compass-to-provide-unprecedented-ongoing-career-support-to-ace-certified-professionals/ https://livinwellife.com/ace-pro-compass-to-provide-unprecedented-ongoing-career-support-to-ace-certified-professionals/#respond Wed, 04 May 2022 04:09:30 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/ace-pro-compass-to-provide-unprecedented-ongoing-career-support-to-ace-certified-professionals/ ACE Pro Compass to Provide Unprecedented Ongoing Career Support to ACE Certified Professionals

American Council on Exercise has released a new career support tool to help ACE Certified exercise professionals and health coaches embark on lifelong learning and charter personalized career paths. ACE® Pro Compass, is a new tool that helps professionals navigate their careers through curated content and resources that help them define, develop and reach their […]

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ACE Pro Compass to Provide Unprecedented Ongoing Career Support to ACE Certified Professionals


American Council on Exercise has released a new career support tool to help ACE Certified exercise professionals and health coaches embark on lifelong learning and charter personalized career paths. ACE® Pro Compass, is a new tool that helps professionals navigate their careers through curated content and resources that help them define, develop and reach their full potential. ACE’s commitment to the success of exercise professionals and health coaches extends beyond certification, and this comprehensive new career support platform provides unprecedented ongoing support, guidance, tools and resources to help them thrive.

“Historically the fitness industry has sold the idea of a career in fitness through certification but has not done enough to support exercise professionals and health coaches beyond getting certified,” said Scott Goudeseune, ACE chief executive officer. “We are changing the game with ACE Pro Compass and additional tools by providing a tailored experience for professionals with ongoing support and guidance to create the career that fuels their passions for helping others from the first thought of getting started in the industry to when they decide to retire.”

ACE knows that knowledge is a lifelong pursuit and is here to keep exercise professionals and health coaches up to date with the leading evidence-based education available. Whether it be another certification or specialist program, continuing education, or extensive blogs, ACE is committed to supporting exercise professionals and health coaches well beyond initial certification.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused many exercise professionals and health coaches to shift and adapt how or where they work, interact with clients or perhaps have even made people wary to enter into this industry,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM ACE president and chief science officer. “As we begin to move toward a new normal, these professionals need trusted guidance and support as the fitness industry reimagines itself. ACE is proud to be a resource and an industry leader in providing career support so exercise professionals and health coaches can thrive.”

How Do I Get Started?

On your computer or smartphone, open your browser to https://compass.acefitness.org/. Scroll down to learn how it works or click GET STARTED. Log into your existing MyACE account. Set up your profile with your current certification(s), experience, professional interest, and employment type. Add topics of interest that suit you and ACE Pro Compass will guide you through curated content just for ACE Pros, and exactly for you. It’s that simple.

Science-based education, community connection, and now unparalleled career support, ACE offers three pillars to build a strong foundation for your personal health and wellness path—from textbook to retirement.



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Recognizing Racial Microaggressions and Creating an Inclusive Health and Fitness Space https://livinwellife.com/recognizing-racial-microaggressions-and-creating-an-inclusive-health-and-fitness-space/ https://livinwellife.com/recognizing-racial-microaggressions-and-creating-an-inclusive-health-and-fitness-space/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2022 03:53:14 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/recognizing-racial-microaggressions-and-creating-an-inclusive-health-and-fitness-space/ Recognizing Racial Microaggressions and Creating an Inclusive Health and Fitness Space

“Microaggression” might seem like a new buzzword that has emerged over the past few years as systemic racism and issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion have become topics of very public debate and discussion, but the term has been around since 1970, when Chester Pierce, PhD, a psychiatrist, scholar and Harvard professor coined the […]

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Recognizing Racial Microaggressions and Creating an Inclusive Health and Fitness Space


“Microaggression” might seem like a new buzzword that has emerged over the past few years as systemic racism and issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion have become topics of very public debate and discussion, but the term has been around since 1970, when Chester Pierce, PhD, a psychiatrist, scholar and Harvard professor coined the term to identify demeaning acts that he described as both “subtle and stunning.”

So, what are microaggressions? They can be defined as brief, commonplace, and daily indignities that convey hostility toward the impacted group or community. They can be glaring and intentional, such as using a racial slur or painting a swastika on a synagogue wall, or they can be unintentional slights against an individual or group, such as repeatedly mispronouncing a person’s name even after being corrected or assuming a person’s role in an organization based on their appearance.

According to Rory G. James, MPH, Director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion at Indiana University – Bloomington and a special advisor to the American Council on Exercise, microaggressions grow from assumptions people make about racialized identities and people of different cultures.

It’s important to highlight the fact that microaggressions are not “micro” events for the individuals or groups on the receiving end, and the terminology should not be misconstrued to mean that the aggressions are not powerful and impactful. In a recent Facebook Live event entitled “Recognizing Racial Microaggressions and Creating an Inclusive Health and Fitness Space,” hosted by Mr. James, he explained that “micro” refers to the frequency of these events and how they build up over time into a pattern that can become quite problematic and emotionally exhausting.

Microaggressions can also have real-world ramifications beyond the emotional and mental impact they have on the individual or group. During the Facebook Live event, James used a scenario in which a hiring committee is discussing candidates for a high-level position at their fitness facility. A member of that committee is concerned about whether a Black candidate would be a good fit for their community and facility members. This type of microaggression, if allowed to pass unchallenged by other members of the committee, impacts that individual’s career prospects, not to mention those of any other person of color who may pursue an opportunity with that employer.  

Sue and colleagues expanded upon Dr. Pierce’s work by creating a taxonomy of the three types of microaggressions.

The first is the microassault, which can be verbal or nonverbal. A microassault is an explicit form of bias in which harm is intended. It can be a slur or even a physical attack. For example, threatening to call the police on people when they’re doing innocent activities like hiking or having a barbecue in a public park is a microassault and a threat of harm.

The second is the microinsult. Microinsults are often committed unconsciously and can take the form of insensitive remarks or rude, demeaning acts. For example, commenting on the smell of someone’s lunch when they heat it up in the breakroom is a microinsult, particularly if their meal is from a different culture than that of the speaker. Another example involves commenting that a person of color is well-spoken or articulate or, on the other side of that coin, assuming someone is less intelligent because of the use of vernacular language or because they speak with an accent.

The third is the microinvalidation, which is a comment or behavior that negates the feelings or experiences of another person. James provided a few examples of microinvalidation during the Facebook Live event. People will sometimes say they are “colorblind” to explain that they don’t see or consider a person’s skin color during their day-to-day interactions, and this can be said with the best of intentions. However, it negates the intricacies of a person’s identity. There is a need to acknowledge race when something differential happens to someone else. Consider, for example, a Black man saying they were followed by security while shopping at the mall. Not believing them or saying it happens to everyone invalidates that experience, as does telling them that they’re being too sensitive.

“The insidious nature of microaggressions,” James says, “is the fact that when it happens to you, you’re left carrying that” and begin to question your own understanding of the experience. Maybe that security guard was just doing their job or maybe I imagined it. If you want to be an advocate or ally, it is essential to acknowledge that others may have a different lived experience than you because of their racial identity.

 

What This All Means for the Fitness Industry

Whether you work as an independent contractor, in facility management or in any of the countless other roles the fitness industry has to offer, a primary objective should be to provide enjoyable physical-activity experiences to everyone, no matter their race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, and so on.

With that in mind, negative interpersonal interactions and microaggressions that take place in and around the facility can be barriers to overall wellness, alongside other social determinants of health, such as economic stability, education level, access to healthy foods and access to adequate healthcare. The last thing you want to do as a professional or business owner is to give people a reason not to use your services. And, on a more human level, treating everyone with respect and dignity and in a way that is empowering and welcoming, is essential.

Think about how your organization, your colleagues or even how you yourself may perpetuate certain beliefs and practices. It’s important to note that microaggressions that occur anywhere in your facility—at the front desk, in the locker rooms or on the gym floor—can be barriers to participation and negatively impact your relationship with clients or gym members.

Also, denial of individual racism or bias is itself a microaggression. We all have biases and beliefs that impact our interactions with others. Denying that your words or actions could negatively impact someone else without you realizing it is a microinvalidation of the lived experience of the person with whom you’re interacting. With that in mind, it’s clear that minimizing the occurrence of microaggressions is difficult and ongoing work for any individual, organization or industry.

What can you do when you commit, see or are the target of a microaggression?

  • If you are the target of the microaggression: The person on the receiving end of the microaggression is often burdened with addressing it, and this leads to emotional fatigue. As James said, no one should be forced into educating someone who offended them!
  • If you witness a microaggression: There is no easy answer to this question, as your role in the organization and the power dynamics in play may affect your ability to speak up in certain situations. That said, you can often pull someone aside in a collegial way and point out the issues with what you overheard. You might say something like, “Even it was unintentional, the way you said that was problematic. There was a better way you could have handled that.” It can be a powerful moment when a colleague steps up to be an ally to the target of a microaggression.
  • If you commit a microaggression: If you ever catch yourself committing a microaggression, don’t just sit in the awkwardness and let the relationship suffer. Acknowledge what you just said and pursue the opportunity to learn. Genuinely apologize and don’t try to explain away the incident. Remember, denying your bias—no matter how unintentional your words or actions may have been—is a microaggression itself.

 

In Conclusion

Being a better individual and professional requires cultural intelligence and humility. Educate yourself so that you feel empowered to advocate and be an ally for people of color or any other target of microaggression. Remember, clients are coming to you for your professional expertise and as a partner in their wellness journey, so if you belittle their experience or display a lack of concern, that can be very damaging to that relationship. Again, this is ongoing work, from the individual level up to society at large. It starts with acknowledging the existence of microaggressions and their impact on those in your facility and community.

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The Ultimate Benefit of Physical Activity https://livinwellife.com/the-ultimate-benefit-of-physical-activity-2/ https://livinwellife.com/the-ultimate-benefit-of-physical-activity-2/#respond Sat, 16 Apr 2022 03:32:59 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/the-ultimate-benefit-of-physical-activity-2/ The Ultimate Benefit of Physical Activity

In a recently published article, research funded by the National Institutes of Health investigated the impact of a modest increase in daily physical activity levels on mortality in a population-based sample of U.S. adults, with a goal of estimating the number of deaths that would be prevented annually with manageable increases in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical […]

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The Ultimate Benefit of Physical Activity

In a recently published article, research funded by the National Institutes of Health investigated the impact of a modest increase in daily physical activity levels on mortality in a population-based sample of U.S. adults, with a goal of estimating the number of deaths that would be prevented annually with manageable increases in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA).

This research builds on earlier studies in some important ways. Previous work cited in this article relied on convenience samples (i.e., samples drawn from a population close at hand rather than one being based on the population at large), used self-reported physical-activity data and assumed large increases in activity levels (e.g., more than 30 minutes per day).

For this study, the researchers used accelerometer data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a representative survey of the U.S. population, and focused on adults 40 to 85 years old.

The analysis included 4,840 participants, 53% of whom were women, 10.4% of whom were non-Hispanic black, and 5.1% of whom were Mexican American. A total of 1,165 deaths occurred during a follow-up period of just over 10 years.

Increasing MVPA by 10, 20 or 30 minutes per day was found to be associated with a 6.9%, 13.0% and 16.9% decrease in the number of deaths per year. At the low end of that spectrum, that 6.9% decrease in deaths with an additional 10 minutes of MVPA equates to more than 111,000 preventable deaths per year among U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 85. That number increases to nearly 210,000 preventable deaths and more than 272,000 preventable deaths with increases of 20 and 30 minutes, respectively. And, importantly, similar benefits were observed across sexes and ethnicities.

For health coaches and exercise professionals, this is one more set of data to add to your evidence-based practice. Every client is going to have their own reasons for becoming more physically active, and the results of this study may be enough to encourage some clients to add to the duration of their daily physical activity. Not only might physical activity lead to healthier and happier lives, but longer ones as well!

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ACE Insights Blog | Black History Month: Focus on Black Fitness Professionals https://livinwellife.com/ace-insights-blog-black-history-month-focus-on-black-fitness-professionals-2/ https://livinwellife.com/ace-insights-blog-black-history-month-focus-on-black-fitness-professionals-2/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2022 03:31:34 +0000 https://livinwellife.com/ace-insights-blog-black-history-month-focus-on-black-fitness-professionals-2/ ACE Insights Blog | Black History Month: Focus on Black Fitness Professionals

Three veteran instructors share their journeys in an industry that did not always support their efforts, yet the value that their love of fitness has given them is immeasurable. Kendall Hogan – Los Angeles, Calif. Why did you begin your fitness career?  It was never my intention to have a career in fitness. My plan […]

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ACE Insights Blog | Black History Month: Focus on Black Fitness Professionals

Three veteran instructors share their journeys in an industry that did not always support their efforts, yet the value that their love of fitness has given them is immeasurable.

Kendall Hogan – Los Angeles, Calif.

Why did you begin your fitness career? 

It was never my intention to have a career in fitness. My plan was to become a lawyer and advocate for the underprivileged. While in school, I accepted a part-time job at a gym for the free membership and began taking group fitness classes. I was the front-row junkie. Once, an instructor didn’t show up and I was encouraged to teach the class. I had never taught a class, but I figured, why not? In retrospect, I am sure it was probably the worst class ever, but even so, I had been bitten by the teaching bug.

Who helped you along the way? 

The list would be too long to name everyone. People believed in me when I had little faith in myself. An instructor named Henry mesmerized me with his choreography, music and infectious energy. I thought to myself, “that’s the kind of teacher I want to be.” I attended every class he taught and stood in the front row right in front of him and absorbed everything. Before long, he noticed and took me under his wing. He not only became my mentor but became my best friend for life.

What were some of your biggest obstacles? 

One of my biggest obstacles was my own lack of confidence in my abilities. I questioned if this was something I could do. If there was “space” for me. There were very few instructors of color and even fewer people of color in classes. I reminded myself that I felt the same way when I attended a predominately white university. I knew failure was not an option. My existence and success could have an impact on whether more people of color would attend in the future. I did not buckle; instead, I worked harder and demanded more of myself. I took the same stance once I committed to being an instructor.

Who in fitness do you admire? 

I admire many people in fitness—too many to name. Some are famous and others you’ve probably never heard of. For some, my admiration is in direct relation to their fitness contributions and for others, it is their overall character and how I am inspired by them: Sara Kooperman, Donna Cyrus, Linda Shelton, Jillian Michaels, MaDonna Grimes, Lisa Wheeler, Jeanette Jenkins, Calvin Wiley, Cassie Ho, Shaun T. I could go on and on.

Where do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration from “everyday” people; my participants and instructors who attend my workshops. I am mostly inspired when I see more people of color who are top-level instructors, packing classes and presenting as headliners at fitness conventions; when they are prominent fitness influencers and changing lives. I’m inspired when they are group fitness leaders for large organizations, and when they are studio owners. I look at all of this and I am inspired and motivated.

Aida Johnson-Rapp – Chicago, Ill.

Aida Johnson-Rapp, a black woman with short dark hair, arms raised up and out with her feet spread wide in a position known as a star jump. Aida is wearing an emerald green workout tank top and matching workout pants with black shoes that have white soles. She is standing on a red floor with a red background with small vertical stripes.

Why did you begin your fitness career? 

I began teaching in 1972 at my high school. I studied dance and I enjoyed teaching. I converted the warm-ups from my contemporary dance classes and taught an academic credit-based class called “Body Control” to other students under the supervision of my physical education teacher, a former dancer. In 1976, I began teaching dance fitness at Body Works Fitness in Miami, Fla. I made a steady income and it kept me in good shape between dancing gigs. In the early 80s, I lived in New York City where “Aerobic Dance” was the new fitness craze and demand for instructors was high. I loved to perform, I looked good in a leotard and my classes were popular. Teaching fitness gave me the same satisfaction as performing. I had the energy to teach 18-plus classes per week, paychecks were steady and people applauded at the end of class.

Who helped you along the way? 

Initially, my performing friends helped me. They knew I loved to teach any kind of movement and would always refer me to their contacts. That’s how most people got hired. At the time, how you looked was a big factor since formal training and certifications were nearly non-existent until the mid-1980s.

What were some of your biggest obstacles? 

As the industry became more mainstream, the focus on an “ideal” body type probably caused me not to be considered in some markets. I remember applying at a famous barre studio in NYC and feeling rejected because of comments regarding my “muscularity.”

How did you overcome any adversity? 

My parents gave me unconditional love and support. They exposed me to the arts at an early age by enrolling me in a neighborhood dance school run by a young black woman who loved dancing and created a school in the basement of her home. This is unique because my parents grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in rural Jim Crow south. They didn’t go to movies, plays or mainstream entertainment because of segregation. They migrated to Chicago during the Great Northward Migration, seeking a higher standard of living and greater opportunity. Their faith and strength gave me the confidence I needed to overcome any adversity. They encouraged me to pursue my dreams, while cautiously navigating discrimination.

Who in fitness do you admire? 

There are many African-American instructors I admire in fitness, past and present. Many pioneers or veteran African-American instructors, like myself, are still actively teaching today: Kacy Duke, Billy Blanks, Kendall Hogan, Sean Armstead, Cathy Yelverton, , Donna Richardson, Nt Etuk and Julian Barnes, Jeannette Jenkins, Shaun T., Traci Copeland, Laila Ali and Kelly Rowland.

Where do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration everywhere and especially from my students.

Rodney Morris – Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Rodney J. Morris, a bald, smiling black man, with in a chair with his wrists crossed on his lap. He wears a blue zipped collared shirt with the words MyFitPod embroidered on his left side in white thread.

Why did you begin your fitness career?

My fitness career started in September 2001. I was overweight and walked into a Les Mills BodyPump™ class. A recent college graduate, I needed to lose weight, and my employer paid for my gym membership if I went regularly. Eight months later, I was 80 pounds lighter and absolutely addicted to BodyPump. I completed my first instructor certification with Les Mills, and later taught numerous Les Mills classes and became a National Master Trainer/Presenter for six different formats. I worked in business development for Les Mills in their Midwest and South Central regions. I went on to work for 24 Hour Fitness (which was then Fitness Connection), starting as a Regional Group Fitness Manager. I was promoted to Vice President of Fitness, Corporate Sales, Talent Management, and ultimately People Development and Inclusion. I left Fitness Connection in July of 2020 to grow Hospice Care Partners with my spouse and co-founded MyFitPod with Maria Turco last fall. In November, we were accepted into TechStars’ Future of Longevity Accelerator. Interestingly, Maria was the BodyPump instructor for the class that started my career!

Who helped you along the way?

I had many mentors, including those who guided me while I was a student at Swarthmore College. A Professor of African American History, Allison Dorsey once said to me, “Rodney, unused potential is far worse than having none at all.” It lit a fire under me then and I think about it often. It still drives me to this day.

I give much of the credit for my success to my colleagues who invested in me over the years. I am greatly appreciative of their guidance and wisdom and would not have made it to where I am today without them.

What were some of your biggest obstacles?

The biggest obstacle was transitioning from being a fitness creator to becoming an executive and entrepreneur. I spent many years “on the stage” delivering workout experiences and “performing” for my participants and employers. For years, I undervalued myself, my talents and my earning potential. I knew that my professional aspirations and talents extended far beyond being on a stage or wearing a headset, but?it felt “safer” than the boardroom. I was gay. I was black. It was the early 2000s and I was different. As I taught less and transitioned more into leadership, I struggled to find a balance between confidently demonstrating my potential in the boardroom and making other leaders around me less uncomfortable or insecure. It was hard being told that it wasn’t “my place” or that I was being “disrespectful” when I openly voiced my disagreement or asserted my opinion in meetings. This wasn’t how my peers were often treated or received. It took a long while for me to accept that no matter how badly I wanted to, like a flower, I could not blossom without sunshine.

How did you overcome any adversity?

My experience in the fitness industry has been great. When I first started teaching group fitness, I made $12/hour. Looking at my various positions in organizations (Les Mills, Fitmarc, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, the YMCA, and Fitness Connection), some would likely say that “I made it.” They might even say that my journey is living proof that “racism in the fitness industry does not exist.” However, if they did, they would be wrong.

While I have achieved many things in my career and have persevered, I would be dishonest if I said that my experience in the fitness industry has not been impacted by racism and discrimination.

In my experience, the key to overcoming adversity is intentionality. Understanding and assessing the environment and the situation that you are in and being honest with yourself about what can and cannot be changed. Not only is this empowering, but it also helps you maintain clarity about what you can do to proactively improve your circumstances. The conversation really isn’t about “overcoming adversity.” It’s about deciding when you are no longer willing to tolerate it and taking action to thrive beyond it.

Who in fitness do you admire?

One of the people I admire most is my older brother, Kevin. Fitness absolutely turned Kevin’s life around. After dropping out of school and going to jail, Kevin turned his passion for working out into a lifesaving career. He earned his first personal trainer certification 15 years ago and has never looked back. Today, he’s built his own brand, is his own boss and is a powerful role model to his three daughters and the dozens of aging adults he trains each day. He’s turned what should have been a death sentence into a six-figure career and stability for his family. Kevin is a fitness hero.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration by finding and mentoring fitness professionals like Kevin. There is so much talent and potential within our industry and specifically within the hearts and minds of black and other minority creators of color. Helping people find the confidence and resilience they need to “level up” and manifest their fullest potential is my life’s purpose. That’s why Professor Dorsey’s words from 25 years ago still drive me today.

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