Updated: Nov 26, 2018
A few days ago I arrived at the gym where I teach dance fitness and boot camp classes. I arrived a bit early so I sat in my car finishing a few messages to friends. A woman pulls into the spot next to my truck just after I exited and started walking to the gym. A tree caught my attention and I stopped to take a few pictures of it. The woman gets out of her car and is smoking a cigarette that she puts out as she heads towards the gym. We speak to each other and she went on into the gym. I finished what I was doing and headed inside myself. A few minutes later I stood in the workout room waiting for students to arrive for some dance cardio. The lady walks into the room. I greet her and we start chatting. She says she had never done my class before but needed to "lose this" (she grabs her belly) because she was going on a cruise and was going to wear a two-piece bathing suit. I responded that she already undid anything that my class would give her when she smoked the cigarette before class. This conversation went on for a few minutes. She told me how she needed to look better for her trip. I reminded her that she did not need to do or be anything but herself. As more people entered the room our conversation ended and we moved on.
While I don't understand smoking or people's need to do it, this blog isn't about her choice to do it. It is about the statement "I need to lose this because I'm wearing a two-piece on vacation." It has been about four days since this chat and I have been thinking on it every day. The thought that came to my mind is how she is what we need. By "we" I mean the fitness community, the fashion industry and personal growth community to name a few. Let me explain.
The guy in the picture is me. He, being me, is a fitness instructor who spends a great deal of time making people sweat and reach their goals. I am also a personal growth workshop presenter helping people find more productive ways of facing life from an internal perspective. I am a published author with two books. I love what I do. I love reaching people. I love seeing people happy after leaving my fitness class. I love seeing people using some of the tools they learned in my workshops. It doesn't matter if it is one person I touch or a one hundred, I am happy to reach people. My books, my fitness classes and my personal growth workshops all have one thing in common: I do them for others to hopefully gain something from them. That is my truth. And yet, there is something people gloss over about all this "get better" stuff. You see, for all the stuff I love to give, the truth is we (in the fitness, clothing, fashion, glamour etc., etc., etc. industries) need you. Well, actually, we need your insecurities. Yes, that is what we are talking about today.
As I thought about it more and more, I realized that the goal is to keep people insecure. As fitness instructors we want you to get hooked on our classes. We want you to "have to" go to them. To feel the best you can. We want you to love it so much you have to tell friends and bring them with you. Yes, we want you to attain your goals but only enough to make new ones. I see it all the time when someone gets into the gym and they reach that first goal of losing 20 pounds. Then all of a sudden it becomes "if I could just lose this or that" I will be happy. That isn't insecurity, Sean! Did you just think that? Are you one of those who keeps pushing? Stay with me for a minute longer and you'll see the point.
You see if a psychologist fixes the mindset of all his patients then he will be out of a job. If women started to love themselves for who they are and how they look then the make-up companies, the fashion companies, the personal growth speakers, the authors who tell you how to be a better you and so on would be out of business. If the doctors got people to take a holistic approach before manufactured pills and people started getting better and needed less pharmaceuticals then they too would be out of business (or at least take a major hit). See all those and many more need you to look at yourself and not be happy. They need you to covet Jennifer Lopez rocking a bikini at 40+ so you can want it too. They need you to believe that "long lashes" make you look amazing and that shooting stuff into your face til it doesn't move makes you look younger and is more attractive. They need you to not love the person in the mirror. They need you to, like the lady in class, need to "get rid of" this or that. They need you to covet each other while loathing the person in the mirror. They need you to think that what you are, who you are, and how you are is in "need" of fixing. In short, they, and I, need your insecurities.
I need the guy in the gym who had a little extra weight on him to start lifting and seeing the other guys, who are ripped, doing their thing. I need him to want to "make gainz" so he will start taking supplements, powders and what-the-hell-ever to get those muscles. I need him to be dedicated and have people comment on how great he looks. I need him to entice others. I need him to love the reaction he gets when people notice him or ask him for advice. I need that. I need him to "have to be this guy."
I need the girl coming into class hiding in the back ashamed of people seeing her in her baggy clothes who comes every class and looks up to the girls in the front row. I need her to do the "I'm feeling great" evolution as a student. What is that? Oh, it's when she starts feeling better and better about herself in class and with the other students that the baggy clothes start to get smaller and tighter. She also starts to move further up in the class. Other students see her progress and tell her how great she looks or maybe someone new comes in and says they follow her now. I need that ego boost because she will "need it" to feel better. Of course, she could be the same for a weight lifter or a boot camp style class. It doesn't matter; I need her. I need her to feel just good enough to be happy and spread the word but just unsure enough to do everything to keep what was gained.
I need it as an instructor. I need those insecurities of going back to what he/she once was. I need them to show the pictures and to show the progress. I need it. If he/she got "fixed" then I would be out of a job. Yes, there are many more people who would come but, with each person who is "fixed," less and less people will need me.
What an interesting blog isn't it? Am I shooting myself in the foot here? Have I gone crazy? No. No, I haven't. There is a method to this madness. I don't want your insecurities. In fact, most people I know in this business don't want them either. Here is the point:
At the end of the day it won't matter if you lost 10 pounds or 500 pounds. It won't matter if you can bench just the bar (45 pounds) or all the plates (45 pounds each) in the gym. It won't matter if you finally got down to your high school or pre-marriage weight. It won't matter one damn bit if you truly can't see that the person you are isn't defined by the way you look. In the end, how you feel is what matters. How you FEEL. They need you to think you are broken. They need you to think you need the lipstick, the eye shadow, the pills and to "be like" whoever is the new sexy. They need it because if you saw where your value came from, you wouldn't need them.
There is nothing wrong with working hard for your fitness. There is nothing wrong with loving your body. There is nothing wrong with making new goals because you love what you are doing. Nothing. I love watching people find their passions. I am a dance fitness instructor because of a young lady who showed me a level of passion and joy that I had to have for myself. I knew I wanted to be an instructor. I didn't do it because I needed to be loved. I did it because I loved what I was getting to do. I chose a silhouetted picture because, as a fitness instructor, I want anyone who reads this to understand that the outside of you can be great but the inside is the most important. Getting fit is great, not because people covet your body, but because better health means less trips to the doctor, the ability to do more for self and with family and friends, a better outlook on life in general and, in many cases, a more fruitful life. Getting healthier isn't a "need." It should be a "want" and in that we can all be better.
As for the woman I mentioned earlier, I hope she realizes that how others see her means nothing compared to how she sees herself. A vacation is a great thing to be yourself on. Maybe she will see it before it's too late.
I leave with this last statement:
Learn to live with the person behind the mask because, no matter what you do, that person is always there with you. Love yourself!