It's 2021 and women still face barriers in the fitness world and beyond. Well, we've had enough of it. TRX is proud to have so many strong, confident women trainers of all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, and personalities, and that’s why we always shout from the rooftops about our Suspension Training® method—it proves that fitness is for everyone. This International Women's Day, we want to open up the conversation about some goals we can all strive for to hopefully bring about change, and make fitness a more welcoming place for everyone.
GOAL #1: MORE WOMEN COACHES OWNING THE SPACE
Despite Title IX and our post #MeToo movement, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics and Sport (TIDES) men still dominate coaching when it comes to college sports. Ironically enough, it was the passing of Title IX that allowed more money to flow in for salaries, making these positions more desirable to men. Sport coaching remains a domain where gender equity has declined or stalled, despite increasing female sport participation. The percentage of women who coach women are in the minority in most sports, and there is a near absence of women coaching men. Why is this so important? Coaches are towering influences, providing guidance, leadership, and comfort to athletes both young and old. These early—and for many prolonged—experiences with predominantly male leadership can leave lasting impressions on both boys and girls. And it goes without saying—if the overwhelming majority of coaches they encounter are men, young women would logically conclude that sports and coaching are better left to the males, or for that matter, any high-ranking profession. The goal? Teach young girls and boys that the best head coaches can be women, too.
GOAL #2: THE FUTURE OF WELLNESS ISN’T HOMOGENEOUS
In recent years, especially with the advent of companies like Goop, there's the idea that wellness is unattainable, or only available to those with unlimited resources and a disposable income; the wellness industry at large has profited off the commodification of ancient practices and the removal of any representation of the folks who originated these practices. How can we change this? Learning more about and supporting women-owned and BIPOC-owned businesses that are decolonized, equitable, and inclusive, like Dive In Well that focuses on bringing wellness to marginalized voices, or Naaya, founded by Sinikiwe Dhliwayo to offer BIPOC folks more access to the typically white-centric practice of yoga. Overall, it’s about awareness—it's not a bad thing that people are trying to help others and share knowledge, but when money is prioritised over the wellbeing, integrity or history of a practice, there has to be a dedication to that culture. In short, make space to change your mind when presented with new information.
GOAL #3: FITNESS HAS MANY FACES (AND BODIES)
One of the biggest myths that’s perpetrated for women is the notion of an “ideal” body type. It’s important to remember that just like fitness trends come and go, so do “body goals.” We went from rail-thin flappers in the 1920s, to the curvy Marilyn Monroe ideal of the 1950s, to long-haired and slim in the 1970s, to athletic and sculpted in the 1980s, back to rail-thin and androgynous in the 1990s, and now we’re in a stage where “slim thicc” is the ideal—showy peach, tiny waist, a little extra on the thighs. Fitness influencers talk about gaining weight as a way to overcome insecurity and grow confidence, and yet, in many ways, it’s more of the same—the desire to change oneself to fit in society’s current physical ideal. The reality is—fitness and health looks different on absolutely everyone and the goal should never be for women to compare or change. Losing weight, building muscle, or running faster are all exceptional goals to have. But, the real goal is to accept all bodies—fat, skinny, curvy, zero booty, all booty, stretch marks, fupa, hip dips, no thigh gap, black, white, all colors—as representative of the female body and its amazingness.
GOAL #4: WOMEN ARE MORE THAN THEIR BODIES
According to one study, women are far less likely than men to engage in physical exercise consistently. The reasons are numerous and deeply entrenched in the stigma women battle against—feeling like they don’t belong in a gym because only men lift weights; feeling like they don’t belong because they don’t fit the look of someone athletic; feeling like their bodies receive too much scrutiny or sexualization or objectification; feeling like they’ll be judged if they work out too much and are thus “vain.” This last one is seemingly small, but it’s a significant one. When we preach about lifting up your fellow ladies, we mean it—one of the biggest challenges women face in their day-to-day lives is the double-standard: men can be confident, but women are vain. Men take charge but women are bossy. What can we do to change this? Speak up for yourself and other women. Own your power and your personality. Recognize your worth and create space for yourself in every environment.
With Kamala Harris as our new VP, more and more women CEOs, and overall, women raising their voices to change our society for the better, it’s within our power to filter down all this positive change into every part of society—and that includes the fitness space and how we show up in it. So take these goals to heart. Speak up for your fellow women. Support women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. And, most of all, accept yourself in all your badass glory.