Sunday, April 19, 2009

A workout pet peeve

I took a Pilates Reformer class this week with a different instructor than usual. She was obviously knowledgeable and took us through some moves that I hadn't learned before. At the beginning of the class, she said, "I want you to spend the next hour thinking only of your body."

So far, great, right? But with each move, she said something like, "This move is great for getting rid of that inner thigh jiggle," or "This move is good for tightening up those droopy arms."

If I'm going to spend an entire hour thinking of nothing but my body, I don't want to spend the hour thinking about all the various flaws it has. I can do that quite well on my own.

Besides being discouraging, these kinds of comments also suggest an emphasis on how your body looks instead of how well it functions. I know we all want to look good, but if you're a fitness instructor, wouldn't you focus more on what each move can help clients DO? Like, "This move will strengthen your back and improve your posture," or "This move will help when you're carrying in 20 bags of groceries," or "This move will keep you running injury-free."

Thinking about muffin tops and thigh jiggles is no fun, whether I'm doing it on my own or with the assistance of a very nice-looking woman who obviously either has a terrible body image (she made several self-deprecating jokes about how she was "losing the battle" that didn't seem very funny) or who thinks that focusing on your flaws is somehow motivating. I know she's not the only one. I've experienced (and hated) the same thing in other group exercise classes. I have also experienced some really great fitness instructors who know how to stay focused on the positive.

Besides, if I'm there working out already, chances are I don't need to be "motivated."


  1. Grrrr ... that kind of "motivation" might just be enough for me to not go back. You're absolutely right that there are very positive ways to focus on function and not appearance.

  2. Agh! I hate these mixed messages, too. I share your suspicion that the instructor herself has some body image issues and can't help herself but express them during class. She's really not doing the women in the class a service.

    Personally, I'd rather carry 20 bags of groceries (although my personal best is 5 at once).

  3. That's too bad that she thinks those kinds of comments are motivating. I also like to know how the exercises are helping my muscles, not my fat. :o) My instructor for a weight training class I am taking is VERY good at explaining the exercises in a very positive way. It's so much more helpful and I will definitely be taking more classes with her since I know how good of a teacher she is. I think that is one of the reasons I'm seeing such good results so far! Yeah, I would try not to take another class from that instructor if you can get away with disappointing.

  4. This kind of "motivating" talk only makes me feel worst after a workout session. Maybe that is the instructor's strategy. Now that feel properly bad about jiggly arms and thighs, you would be more incline to take her class again to work it off. =)


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07