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Truth Matters – Stronger Together

I was 22, and I was tired. I was tired of looking in the mirror and always critiquing what I saw. I was tired of working out but not seeing changes. I was exhausted from overcoming an eating disorder in high school, yet still not finding peace with food. I was tired of stepping on a scale and wanting a specific number to appear, as though I would hit the lottery if it did.

It turns out that when you’re tired, it’s easier to get angry. Which sometimes is an excellent thing. I was tired, and then I got angry when a man told me that having 18% body fat (which at the time I had) wasn’t “that good” and I “should work harder.” To clarify what percentages are normal in regards to men and women, I’ve included a chart to help illuminate truth and eliminate confusion.

I was angry because I knew the truth.

I was angry because I knew the truth. About the body fat % that I, as a female, can have. So I knew he was wrong. I was angry because I was tired of the phrase/sentiment, “You’re not good enough.” I heard it from him, I heard it from other people, and at times I even told it to myself. I was sick and tired of all the complaining and comparing I had done in my head. I had had enough. So I decided to do something about it.

First, I made a list of what I wanted. Which looked something like this

  • Build muscle so my metabolic rate would increase.
  • Learn more about body/muscle functions.
  • Workout with other people for motivation/to push me.
  • Don’t overdo it (injure myself).

I need to focus on building muscle, getting stronger, both mentally and physically.

If the equation more muscle =faster metabolic rate was true, then I didn’t need to ‘up my cardio’ or find the newest ‘fad diet’ to be content with how I looked. I needed to get build strength. Then the equation could look like more muscle= faster metabolic rate = more queso to eat/wine to drink. This version of the equation made sense and made me excited. Other than my weekly yoga class, I had always done my workouts on my own. I realized that I had to change that because I didn’t know enough and wasn’t able to motivate myself enough to make my workouts effective. I had a dance background, so I understood some about how far I could push my body though I had to stop dancing during college and do physical therapy for six months to avoid surgery on my hips. So I knew I wanted to work out with other people, and I wanted to avoid injuring myself. So I did some research, and I started taking a fitness class that was based on physical therapy and designed to build muscle from a company called the Bar Method.

If I were intentional in my learning, then I could be more intentional in what I was doing while I was working out.

I began to read a lot more while I was taking classes, learning about the body. I studied muscles, their design purpose (i.e. The deltoid abducts, extends, and flexes the arm), and exercises that would target them. I knew if I understood more about them, I could understand how better to impact them. If I were intentional in my learning, then I could be more intentional in what I was doing while I was working out. And if I were more intentional, then I would see results. Being intentional always matters. During the time while I was spending most of my time studying muscles and their function, I also got certified as a Bar Method instructor. Now, six years later, more than 2000 classes taught, more than 2000 classes took, countless hours of studying and class planning, and changing states, I still teach classes weekly at the Bar Method studio near me. Because as a company, their core values align with many of mine. Bar Method puts time into educating their instructors about how muscles work (both individually and as a whole), and they train instructors to be intentional in what they say in class, in how they physically adjust clients in the class. Bar Method trains their instructors to see clients as individuals while also seeing the class as a whole.

At the end of college/right after college, I realized I could do almost any job providing I understood what was expected of my role, and I could see that what I was doing made a difference. I knew that having a good boss would impact whether or not I loved my job. But having a bad boss (aka one who makes decisions based on personal preference over what is good for the team/company/clients) would give the opportunity to refine my people skills. I could love what I was doing and not agree with some of the decisions my boss made. I knew that getting along with people you don’t always agree with is an invaluable life skill.

I want them to see the other people in the room, not as competition but as teammates.

There have been times, both while working for Bar Method (and other jobs), that I have disagreed with a decision that the studio owner/my boss made. I try only to voice my disagreement if a decision will impact my ability to do my job or could impact my team/clients negatively. I want clients who take my class to feel confident, empowered, and good about themselves when they leave my class. I want them to see the other people in the room as people on their team.  The only competition is the ‘you now’ vs the ‘you from yesterday’. The other people in class are there for support. They’re there for inspiration. The human body is a work of art. Good artists know that during the act of creation there is collaboration, we do not create alone. In my strive to be artist I work on being both a nourisher and a creator.

So I pour my energy into:

  • Creating classes that are fun, challenging, and personal
  • Knowing the names of everyone in my class, what injuries they might have, what fitness goal they might be working towards
  • Reminding people throughout the class to lift their heads. 

The last one I do for two reasons:

  1. To help their posture, to help their neck and shoulder muscles function better
  2. Because they should be proud and confident of what they’re doing for themselves.

I’ve told classes on multiple occasions to flick me off if it makes them feel better and helps them push through to the end of the exercise. But they have to keep their heads up while they flick me off. Cause if you’re going to do something, be proud of what you’re doing.  Always. 

AUTHOR: Katherine Pieper
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