This column is part of a summer series that will focus on college-aged men and women’s perceptions of beauty and body image issues.
As a fitness instructor, I am constantly barraged with questions that associate fitness with “thinness,” by people who fail to recognize that the two are by no means connected.
I learned this lesson the hard way — the kind of way that leaves you in serious bodily pain for a solid week and your brain shattered from shock and disbelief.
Two years ago, while working as a fitness instructor at a YMCA in Asheville, N.C., I heard tales of a legendary instructor who could both destroy and rebuild you in 30 minutes with her nearly impossible workouts.
I got to her next class early in anticipation and scanned the room for a woman that could embody such physical prowess.
As class started, a woman with unkempt hair and glasses emerged from the group, defied my every expectation and changed my life. She was no Jillian Michaels. In fact, she wasn’t a Michelle Obama or even a Jennifer Hudson. But she put me through the wringer in the most uplifting way I have ever had the pleasure to endure and is now one of my closest friends.
While she’s the first to admit that numbers would suggest she’s unhealthy, numbers are not everything. Bodies are built to perform.
Fitness isn’t about what your body looks like. It’s about what it can do. Those thunder thighs — they’re what power you through stadiums, across soccer fields and studios and propel you in jumps.
Your strong shoulders and arms might be the result of intense dedication to swimming, yoga or dance.