How To Build Better Understanding As A Fitness Professional
एक फ़िटनेस पेशेवर के रूप में बेहतर समझ बनाने के लिए 5 सुझाव (Hindu translation)
As fitness professionals, we are needed more than ever. But how do we engage, support, nourish, and create sessions and spaces that make an impact? How do we connect and communicate better with more people?
How do we ensure that we are welcoming for everyone? From adapting different languages, to sharing diverse imagery, to gender neutral pronouns, it can be overwhelming. It is easy to worry and stress about not knowing where to start, or how to do the right thing. The key is to start the conversations or ask questions. Usually, the more difficult the conversation, the more we learn from it and are better for it.
Inclusion is so many things but primarily, relationships, shared experiences, advocacy, and a sense of identity that is recognized and supported. Building a better understanding is just that – BUILDING. One brick at a time, slowly creating a strong structure that fosters fantastic communication. It is what makes us epic trainers and coaches.
Here are five tips/strategies I have found that are making the biggest impact for clients, classes, programming, and communities:
1. ASK when you do not understand.
Sometimes a brick must be fixed/replaced to create a stronger foundation/structure.
Leaving your ego at the door is the first step. You don’t need it when you are of service to others. The best conversations I have ever had about inclusion come from simply asking “What do we need to do better?” We all absorb information differently, depending on our personal biases and filters. To avoid communication errors, take the time to double-check what you’re hearing. It is ok to be perfectly imperfect, it tends to be how we remember better the next time. We create new neural connections.
2. Body language, verbal, and other forms of communication.
The energy/posture/attitude we place out could engage, intimidate, or limit others.
The only person we can change is ourselves. But supporting others in their path is why we are here as trainers! How do you feel when you’ve been heard or seen or understood? Is it easier to respond and be authentic? Thought so.
Ask yourself these questions before you speak or begin the conversation. Do you need to inform, request information, ask for more detail, offer empathy or pure silence?
Our words are only part of connecting and communicating. Tone, body language, color of clothing, emphasis on words, facial and other physical signs also show emotion or a disconnect between what’s being said and what the coach/client means or believes. Make it a point to speak the truth according to what you believe wholeheartedly. And ensuring everyone has a chance to move is a mindset to adapt.
3. Keep feeding the brain and the value of teaching over telling.
When one teaches, two learn. It really is that simple.
There are simply thousands of podcasts, manuals, workshops, books, and audios to learn more. And when you learn more, you share it, so your clients understand and then teach someone else. This might just be our secret way to create a higher percentage of Canadians exercising! One of my favorite things to ask is where are my clients getting their movement/fitness information from. What are they watching/reading/participating in. Then go and check them out. Through several clients, we have created an online book list about BIPOC and 2SLGBTQIPA+ reading and watching. I am currently working on a grant to create exercise videos with more language translations beyond English/French. A great translation piece is Google Translate.
4. Networking outside the niche.
This has been my biggest gamechanger for awareness.
Having a global approach to skills and inclusion has created a better approach. It has increased my professional accountability and transparency. It has also brought me new revenue/ connections with fantastic people.
Be authentic, be open, but also be open to the idea that people may question you. Part of being a leader is about engaging others for their best. The volume of people who learn from people they trust about you and what you offer sometimes is that door to opening a conversation, and a new client/class. Networking also challenges your unconscious biases – helping you to put into place effective strategies that can help you in removing biases you may be reflecting in your business as a fitness professional. Even a simple thing such as bringing in different languages through emails/texts speaks volumes for cultural diversity and respect.
Finding peace in the imperfection.
As a 27-year fitness/movement influencer, I have absolutely been guilty of creating an aesthetic only approach to training – looking at my differences as something wrong. But now? I celebrate the “flawsome”. How we are all so different is where the joy is. Photoshop be damned. And that’s flawsome! Find that joy and pleasure in accepting, adapting what you can, moving away from the mindset of “fixing” people you train.
What is a much-needed focus instead that benefits way more people? Creating a safe, barrier reduced, gender neutral, trigger reduced, and trauma informed space/ coaching mindset. I created my gym that is Hive Muskoka (featured in the new PTS manual) along with these strategies as a social enterprise-based business. It’s crucial to understand that having any limits or adaptions (either from cultural bias or physical accessibility), the mindset should always be on what someone CAN do, not what they cannot. Just imagine the clients/classes you will attract by focusing on someone’s skills, ability, uniqueness and what you could do in a collaborative way to support their fitness and movement skills!
Muskoka, Ontario originates on land that is the traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg-specifically the Ojibwaay, Chippewa and Oddawa People. I acknowledge the stewardship of this land throughout the ages with respect and appreciation.