Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
I find this “so called” inspirational quote so maddening and wrong. Wrong, I tell you! Stick and stones may break our bones, but words will always affect us!
Last weekend Alexandra and I attended the LA Fitness Expo, an event we suspected attracted few baby boomers, though lots of hard body youngsters. We love youngsters. Between us we have spawned three. Yet, we recognized that “Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore” as we looked at the words and messages plastered throughout. (We were at the Expo performing posture assessments on behalf of the attentive, service-oriented, and fun Sherpa company. Like us, they value midlifers).
As Alexandra and I cruised the trade show aisles, we noticed a trend in the key words on booths, marketing materials, t-shirts, and tattoos. (Yes, I read tattoos as there was a lot of bared skin at the expo). The text was so overpowering and thematic, I started a list of words that stood out:
punishment – beast – raw – fight – pound (as a verb, not noun) – brutal – challenge – ultimate – barbed wire (?!)
The overwhelming message was that exercise is painful, should hurt, is hard core, and meaningful only if attacked with full force. Not really sure how the barbed wire fits into the equipment bag, but then I am still getting used to seeing large tires being flipped over as the way to fitness. No wonder our nation is leery of exercise. This journey into “land of the Ueberfit” appears daunting and so negative. “Be All in Or Get Out!” How enticing is that for the new or occasional exerciser who most needs support and motivation??!
I see the same sort of “admonition motivation” all over instagram and Facebook as well. Repeated postings warn us that:
Am I showing a baby boomer undies gap? None of these messages encouraged me to work out. All of them are negative with an aspect of alienation. They made me want to ice my knee joint, take a nap, and hide my menopot under layered workout wear with a lot of give. Or run away, but without the running.
If I felt excluded and overwhelmed — with a lifetime of being active as a former aerobics competition winner, athlete, and fitness professional with 33 years in gyms and clubs — how do most midlife women feel when bombarded with such messages? Exercise is not just for lean and fit hard bodies. It’s for every body. Especially the soft bodies.
As fitness professionals, my sister, many of our colleagues, fellow healthy living bloggers, and I hope to motivate you to move. Often. Consistently. With joy when possible. Age actively for all the positive reasons. Don’t “whip yourself into shape.” Instead acknowledge your progress. Celebrate your movement minutes. Find what you enjoy and do that. If we want to stay active for a lifetime, we have to enjoy the process. I am positive about that, you ultimate raw beasts!
Readers: What do you think of the perennial classic “No Pain, No Gain”? Do you have a favorite exercise quote?