Fitness Isn't Just About the Numbers

I’ll be the first to admit it. I can get fixated on numbers. I’m guilty of asking the majority of my clients, “How’s the weight?” or “Let’s do Measurements.” It’s my way of keeping them accountable. Even my own numbers can play mind games with me.
However, this isn’t the only route that leads to success.
I’ve been training in St. Louis for nearly 9 years.  In that time I have trained males and females of all ages. All have had different goals.  I have had clients for 8 weeks, I have had some for 8 years.  Each client is different and rewarding in it’s own way, but there are two clients that have had as big of an impact on me as I hope I have had on them.
8 years ago, I was introduced to a 12 year old girl who was scared to death to be in the gym.  At the time she’d never tell anyone that.  Instead, she came in with a wall up.  In fact, she told her mother that if she didn’t like me, “I’ll deck her”.  She was there for weight loss and nutritional guidance.  Honestly, I could have tried to beat it through her brain, but that isn’t what she needed.  12 year old girls don’t need to hear “numbers.” It was much more than that.  This girl needed some major confidence. She needed to know it was ok to be who she was and she didn’t need to change for anyone but herself.
Long story short, I got to see (and still weekly see) this girl do a complete 180 degree turn from what she was.  The girl who used to be timid, shy, and speak to no one is the girl who now waves to everyone across the gym.  She strikes up a conversation with a new boot camper just to make them feel welcomed.  This girl busts her butt every week for me.  Maybe she hasn’t hit the numbers she strived for when she was 12, but that’s ok. She still has lost a lot of weight and looks GREAT.  She is one of the strongest females I have ever worked with and she can pack a punch, literally (Don’t challenge her to a boxing match, my money is on her.). She confidently goes into a gym on her own and knows exactly what to do and how to do it with correct form.  She no longer shys away from people.  Her confidence has soared and in turn the rest of the world knows what I have for years.  She is one cool girl.
This past July I was approached about training another teenager: a 13 year old girl.  I was all for it, however what I forgot was how tough the first few sessions could be.  My client came in and said NOTHING.  She shrugged her shoulders a few times, I got a couple of “I don’t knows” or “I don’t like these”.  But pretty much for 4 weeks there wasn’t much conversation. We got thru the sessions, briefly talking about what she ate, if she did any exercising; everything a typical 13 year old girl doesn’t want to talk about.  I had asked her if she liked to play any sports and she said she didn’t.  I understand not everyone is into them, but I wanted to find a way for her to belong to a team; some sort of peer group that could keep her motivated.  I knew immediately this girl needed some confidence in herself before I could get any physical results out of her.
After a few weeks into the school year, her dad got ahold of me. He told me that she had joined the Volleyball team, as a manager so she wouldn’t be coming in as often and he had hoped.  I think I threw him off when I was ecstatic to hear this.  She had found a peer group, exactly what she needed.  About 4 weeks later, she came back in one evening to train and I was completely thrown off.  I heard the girl talk more in the first 15 minutes of our session than I had heard in the 4 weeks I had trained her over the summer.  She laughed, she joked, and she got thru exercises without too many dirty looks (dirty looks are given by all)! I was so amazed that I immediately contacted her dad.  As weeks continue this girl talks more and more and asks questions. Sometimes,  it’s just conversation over scary movies, but most of the time it’s fitness related.  We spend a lot of time talking about body image.  13 is SUCH a tough age and with social media these days, it has to be hard to be a teenager! I had told her I heard of the latest trend among teenage girls “The Thigh Touch Test” (Google it, it’s disturbing).  I told her how stupid it is and being skinny looks awful.  Having muscle definition and being strong are far more flattering on a girl.  I could see on her face hearing that from a 30 year old female trainer that this news was a reassuring.  We discussed the importance of eating healthy, and that cutting calories drastically doesn’t help the body.  (We also looked online at pictures of guys who only lift their upper body and they have skinny legs, but that’s a whole other conversation).
Each session I see her confidence grow and her true (awesome) personality comes out more. In fact, the other day, after telling her 3 times to stick her butt out on squats, she finally pointed at me and instructed me to “stick your butt out”. I couldn’t stop laughing.  I knew then that she was a different girl than day 1.
Sometimes clients don’t need to hear the numbers.  They just need to hear a little encouragement and know someone is there rooting for them.
I’m so proud of both of these girls and I am so excited to see them grow up… Because they are both on a pathway to be more badass than I know they already are.
Kimberly Renoud
Emerge Fitness Training