Many fitness enthusiasts have a very specific mental image of what a fitness instructor should look like. If you don’t happen to fit into one of the categories they’ve already established in their minds, they may judge you for it and deem you unfit to perform your job based on these unfair (and often unachievable) standards.
Julie Gagnon-Erickson is a Boston native and a Master Fitness Instructor. She is also the Founder of Endurance Pilates in Boston and NYC and has earned over 30 fitness certifications in her 25 years of teaching. She knows firsthand how difficult it can be to positively share your healthy message positively through social media. Below, Julie shares her tips for overcoming body judgment and how to thrive despite society’s narrow ideals of what a fitness instructor should look like.
Understand That Negative Comments Come from a Place of Insecurity
For fitness instructors who have a strong presence online, the presence of trolls and haters is an unfortunate reality. Despite sharing informative fitness content such as videos and tutorials, negative comments pertaining to the instructor’s body are almost always unavoidable. However, Julie Gagnon-Erickson states that these comments are not the result of the appearance of the instructor’s body at all. Insults launched at popular instructors are often written out of an insecurity within the writer’s own body and being. These tissues stem from inside themselves. It is important not to take negative comments personally because they do not represent the quality of the fitness instruction or the teacher himself.
Don’t Attempt To Win Haters Over
As negative comments come from a place of insecurity, it is never a good idea to attempt to win haters over. Many fitness instructors will argue with body judgers — whether online or face to face — in an attempt to convince them of their worth.
However, Julie Gagnon-Erickson explains there is nothing to gain by doing this because these commenters are not invested in these comments — they may just want to cause drama or hurt. By responding to hate, you are giving it more importance. Instead, inspire others to value their bodies and cultivate healthy habits. Lead by example and ignore the haters. They are a waste of your resources.
Let Your Capacities Speak for Themselves
According to Julie Gagnon-Erickson, a healthy body cannot be associated with specific body shapes or sizes. A strong and fit person does not necessarily look like what most would expect. The best way to overcome body judgement is to let your physical capacities speak for themselves. It’s also important to understand that there is always room for improvement. Some haters may compare you to other instructors whom they believe are better but know that even just existing in the public fitness forum invites a certain type of person to take liberty in expressing opinions, nobody is immune to this unfair treatment.
It is futile to take these comparisons to heart because everyone has room for improvement. When tempted to give in to body judgment, avoid comparing yourself to other instructors and instead compare your capabilities to your past self. What are you capable of doing today that you could never have done a year ago? How do you intend to continue improving? How are you helping others do the same? These are the metrics Julie Gagnon-Erickson suggests using to gauge your success instead of relying on the way others judge your body.
In this digital world dominated by opinionated commenters, it can be difficult for anyone online to post without judgement, let alone those who are already under scrutiny of what they “should” be. Julie Gagnon-Erickson encourages other fitness instructors to embrace their individuality and not engage with negative commenters. You don’t have to fit a certain ideal to be valued; instead, prove them wrong with your confidence.