Fitness in the context of rebellion. What the hell does that mean? I’ve sat here staring at this blank doc, chasing down ideas in my head like fireflies, flickering in and out of perspicuity. The “evils” of this industry loom oppressive, and we know them well. I could rail about things like thin-privilege (or cisgender privilege or healthy privilege or…), bro science and destructive fads, about body image and choice and values and self-love and why most of what people say about those things feels like bullshit. And maybe I will, later.
But grab your Orville Redenbacher’s, and pull up a seat, because first I want to talk about space. Our beloved founder and editor listed “space” as one of her Top Ten most loved things. I’m not sure this is the kind of space she meant. It’s the kind that can intimidate or isolate, empower or shame. You can move in it, move through it, create it or redefine it. You can own it, or it can own you.
Working in fitness over the years, most of my clientele have been women who don’t want to take up space. My observation has been that the prevailing aspiration in women’s fitness is to become smaller. The world constantly demands that we become smaller. Social acceptability requires smallness. Lose the weight, trim the waist, tighten the ass, calm the thunder thighs, fight the jiggle, be more “toned”. Be longer, leaner, slimmer. Be tinier, quieter, more waif-like, wife-like, submissive, controlled, unobtrusive, inoffensive, unseen…wait.
I got carried away.
I should have prefaced that with the assurance that I support any psychologically healthy and emotionally grounded goal that any individual has for their own body. I do not believe that any body type, size or physique is superior, and I do not tolerate the “shaming” of any body for the glorification of another. It’s up to every person to decide what their desired aesthetic is, or if they even have one at all.
But that being said, there’s something thrillingly radical about taking up space as a woman. Filling chambers with our voices, filling pages with our words, filling ballot boxes with our votes, filling leggings (which are pants) with our majestic thighs…
What if we trained our bodies to take up space on purpose? To create and define the spaces they occupy, rather than being defined by them. Trained them to move with strength and intention, with confidence, with JOY. To experience a radical and reckless love for their tangible, unapologetic presence. What if we rejected the notion that women exercise to be small? What if we moved our bodies as an expression of power, to reclaim our space and our health? What if we said “fuck it” and decided to be big?
Insecurity is profitable. Weakness is profitable. This is rebellion.