Last summer I decided I was going to make a Change. That’s change with a capital C (not a typo).
For the past three years, I was entrenched in a toxic environment; a place so unhealthy, so skewed in its perception of health and beauty that I began to get lost in it. This place is not as far away as you might think: The Upper East Side.
Working as a personal trainer in this environment meant that I saw far too many women (and some men) who looked like they hadn’t touched a carb in years. I got used to the beauty standard of skinny = good.
Disclaimer: in case you haven’t seen me around WTF, I am not a size zero. I have always had thick legs, and a butt not often associated with white girls. Working on the UES, I was repeatedly judged on this: I couldn’t possibly be a successful and knowledgeable trainer with an ass like that.
Over time, it got to me. The looks. One too many glances at my thighs. I started to think things I didn’t like. Maybe I should stop lifting. Maybe I should only do cardio for a few months and see what happens. Maybe I should skip that next meal.
Then I woke up. The solution wasn’t to change myself, my workout routine (which kicks ass), or my diet (which is healthy and balanced). The solution was to change my environment.
Enter Work Train Fight. The first time I walked in the front door, it literally took my breath away. I couldn’t believe all these different shapes, colors, bodies. And everyone seemed happy (or if not, at least contentedly letting out some aggression on the heavy bag). This was exactly the antidote I had been looking for.
So I quit. I left a job where I had financial stability, an ideal schedule, seniority. These things would haunt me as I made this transition. In the hardest moments, I questioned myself: why did I make this change?
Before I get too “woe is me,” let me say, the staff at Work Train Fight has made this transition as smooth as possible. They have been supportive, instructive, and inspirational.
And they kicked my butt. It’s humbling, when you’re used to being good at what you do, to start an activity which, quite frankly, I sucked at. I am not a fighter. My parents are hippies. In fact, they’re somewhat appalled that I am now hitting things (and sometimes people) for a living.
I’ve had to get used to a lot of twisting. A lot of shuffling. A lot of quick, reactionary movements. A lot of things that as a lifter, are not in my repertoire (I’m one of those “likes to pick things up and put them back down” kind of people). Luckily I’ve had some good teachers. No, great teachers. And I only hope that over time I can help pass the torch to the next generation of WTF trainers.
So, to get back to my question of why did I make this Change. It’s this: when my client comes in to train with a Black Thighs Matter t-shirt. When I get to be a part of room full of teenage girls becoming badass, empowered women. When the trainers around me are invested in the overall wellness of their clients and not just a number on the scale. When a random group of people from this crazy, hectic city become a community, become a family. That is Work Train Fight.