Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Dear Personal Trainer,

At the gym today a personal trainer asked me where on my body I wanted to lose weight.

Uninvited, while I was running on the treadmill, watching the evening news with my headphones on, he thrust the question at me. Not whether I was trying to shape up or shed pounds, no. He asked me which part of my body I wanted to lose weight on.

I'm just under five foot six and weigh no more than 130 pounds. I ran a marathon last year, usually go to the gym three times a week, eat way more than my boyfriend and I'm totally happy with that.

Crucially though, I suffered from anorexia a decade ago and battled with the issue of body image for years. I'm one of millions who fought and are still fighting, but he probably wouldn't have thought of that.

Thankfully, I'm ok with what happened today (frustrated, yes) but others might not be.

As a health and fitness professional -- and I particularly stress the former -- he should be the first to dispel the myth that working out is all about aesthetics.

What happened to getting the blood pumping to clear the mind, oxidise the cells, strengthen the organs and just relax? What happens to strong-is-the-new-skinny and curvy-is-the-new-size-zero? What happened to feel-comfortable-with-yourself-just-the-way-you-are?

I also can't help but wonder why he asked me that question and not the man next to me? Or the man next to him or the man next to him?

There was a girl working out behind me and he moved on to her after he'd spoken to me. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't put my headphones back on I would've heard him ask her the same questioned he asked me.

Come on. This is 2015. Do women who work hard, earn a living, do their part and dream big deserve this kind of treatment?

Do you seriously think that we're all weight-watchers and calorie counters? Of course some of us are, but please wake up and take a long hard look at your job description and responsibilities.

And perhaps think about what your reaction had been if I had asked that question right back at you.