I effing love deadlifts. All kinds of deadlifts -- barbell deadlifts, kettlebell deadlifts, Romanian dumbbell deadlifts, single leg deadlifts... there are so many options! I program some variation of a deadlift for nearly every client I work with, and here's why.
The concept behind trauma informed personal training is pretty simple: it just means approaching fitness in a way that is sensitive to the fact that you may have experienced trauma. Personally, I just assume that nearly everyone I come in contact with has experienced some type of trauma. Estimates indicate that about half of adults have experienced childhood abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual. People experience may kinds of trauma, ranging from abuse, traumatic loss, accidents, disasters, work or battle related trauma, illness, assault, and innumerable others. When we consider all of these many kinds of trauma, you can see why I just assume everyone has survived something.
For survivors of trauma, it can be difficult to regain a sense of control and self determination. One way to help clients regain that sense of control in workouts is giving choices. I will often give my clients options during workouts. This is partially just to be responsive to their needs, and help them to listen to their bodies, but it is also good trauma informed practice.
Another thing that can be difficult after surviving a traumatic event is experiencing symptoms of dissociation, depersonalization, or derealization. This triad of "de" symptoms can be experienced as feeling far away from yourself, disconnected from your body, or even feeling like a fake person, or like reality isn't real. These are not delusions, but symptoms that are a reaction to the shock and horror of a traumatic experience. It may sound far-fetched to suggest that working out can help address these symptoms, but mindfully moving your body, with particular attention to the sensations that arise as you move through a range of motion can be a powerful tool to foster a sense of connection to your own body and to the current moment. In short, mindful movement can get you snapped back into your body and into reality.
Something you will find different about working with a trauma informed trainer as compared to some other personal trainers is that I am not going to push you past your limits. If you say you're done after a few rounds of a movement or circuit, I'm not going to press that. You know your body better than I do, and I won't force you to keep going if you say you're done. Please don't read that and assume that means I won't challenge you. I develop a good communication with my clients so that I can tell the difference between tired and DONE. Having the power to reestablish boundaries around your body can be profoundly healing for trauma survivors who have had their bodily autonomy violated.
Trauma informed training can still be challenging, and can still push you to your limits. I just approach training from a foundational belief that you know your body better than everyone, particularly since you live in it full time!
Virtual personal training really took off during the pandemic, for obvious reasons, and while some folks have been eager to get back to in-person training, I still have a number of clients who I work with virtually. Some people are skeptical about working with a trainer by Zoom, but it has been pretty successful for a number of my clients.
Virtual personal training is a great option if you have childcare issues that make getting to a gym challenging. Some of my virtual clients do live sessions with me from their basement or living room early before kids are up. It's an awesome way to get your workout in without having to figure out a babysitter!
It can be really hard to find a personal trainer local to you who you vibe with, especially if you're looking for body positive personal training. We're out here, but there may not be someone local to you who you can work with. If that is the case, virtual personal training is a great option since you can work with a trainer from literally anywhere!
Virtual fitness sessions can also be a cost saver. In some places, in person personal training might cost you well over $100 an hour, but when you can expand your search to include anywhere, the cost can be a lot less.
You might be worried that working with a virtual personal trainer means you need to buy a ton of equipment for your house. I have some clients who have invested in a few choice pieces of equipment, but I will never tell a client they *have* to buy a thing. Generally, there's a lot you can do with some dumbbells, and maybe some resistance bands! I work with whatever equipment my clients have on hand.
You can get real fitness results working with a personal trainer virtually! A few other perks: you can fart your butt off with no fear, and you don't need to get in your cold ass car on a winter morning! I offer a number of virtual training packages, but one of my favorites is Live Weekly 1:1 Sessions + 4 Weeks of Programming. I love this particular package because you get the benefit and accountability of a weekly live session, plus workouts to follow on your own. You get the most bang for your buck this way, and I get to know you, your body, and your goals, so I can really maximize your programming for you.
I talk about HAES-aligned fitness as a service I provide, but in a conversation with someone who had been looking at my site, they asked, "What is H-A-E-S?" So first, the simple answers! HAES (usually pronounced like haze) stands for Health At Every Size. Please note, it is HEALTH at every size, not healthY at every size. It is an important distinction!
HAES comes from the book "Health at Every Size" by Lindo (Linda) Bacon. In the book, Dr Bacon summarizes a variety of research to build a case that body weight is less culpable for health issues than has been previously believed. HAES is based on the following principles:
In her book, Dr Bacon describes research they conducted that supports this approach over weight focused approaches to improve overall health, including specific biometric markers of health. The recommendations that come from HAES are simple, common-sense, and sustainable behavioral changes, and also address some of the systemic issues that clearly impact health.
So what does it mean to be a HAES-aligned personal trainer? As a personal trainer, my goal is to help my clients get into a sustainable movement routine. So let's break that down a bit: I want you moving your body in a way that you can continue to do for a long time. I don't want to kick your ass for a month or two, have you get injured and then drop off. That isn't particularly helpful for your long-term health or wellbeing. I want you to have a movement routine. You get the most benefit from moving your body on a regular basis. Working out to the point of puking once a month isn't going to have that much impact on your long-term health. What is better is to engage in some type of movement a couple of times a week, and find something you can stick with.
As a HAES-aligned fitness provider, I don't weigh my clients. I don't do before-and-after pics. I don't have you measure your body. Of course, it is your body, and you can do whatever you want with it, but I'm not going to suggest that you do any of those things. My focus isn't on making there be less of you! My focus is on a sustainable fitness program that helps you feel stronger, more energetic, and improves your overall health.
If you want to learn more, I definitely recommend checking out the book, "Health at Every Size." If you've read it already, leave me a comment and tell me what you thought about it!
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I spent years hating, battling, and trying to force my body to into some impossible standard. Through the years, I would stumble across things that were body positive, but figured I'd get body positive when my body was good enough to feel positive about. Here's the thing: my body was good enough all along.
Things escalated to a point where I was working out multiple times a day, following an extremely restrictive eating plan, and taking supplements to help me lose weight. It was excessive, unsustainable, and unhealthy.
This is the point when I learned about intuitive eating. In intuitive eating, we talk about "joyful movement." Gradually, my approach to movement shifted from being something meant to force my body to shrink, and I started to approach movement as a way to feel stronger, empowered, and good about my body. It became less about punishing myself or earning food, and more about enjoyment. Don't get me wrong, just because I do workouts I enjoy doesn't mean they aren't hard as shit sometimes! You can move joyfully and still get your ass kicked in a workout.
I started to find body positive movement communities, and from there, my horizons broadened into weight-neutral fitness, and body liberation-oriented movement. While there is a lot of overlap in these concepts, they all mean something a little bit different. Body positive fitness is fitness approached with the belief that everyone deserves to feel good about their bodies. There are people out there who embrace body positive fitness and still coach intentional weight loss. I do not coach intentional weight loss.
Knowing this steered me towards the label of weight-neutral coach. I like the label of weight neutral fitness because it describes what I'm doing, but when I was introduced to body liberation oriented movement, I knew that was what I'd been looking for the whole time. Body liberation oriented movement focuses on liberating all bodies, and making fitness spaces work for everyone. This means fitness spaces that are inclusive for all races, genders, gender identities, and all abilities. In my opinion, this doesn't mean that any one single class or space is inclusive of literally everyone, but instead focuses on creating spaces that re inclusive of a many different people. It doesn't mean everyone in one place, but a place for everyone.
My journey to body positive fitness, and eventually to body liberation hasn't always been smooth, and it surely hasn't been perfect. It's okay for your thinking and your approach to evolve over time.
Mom in charge at Enlighten Well. I do body positive fitness, intuitive eating, and whatever else I feel called to do. Get to know me here.