By Rebecca Kennedy, Master Trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp
Since I’ve entered the fitness industry as a trainer and instructor, I’ve had to have a serious talk with myself about “WHY?” Who am I to tell someone what to do, what to eat, or how they should look? Am I a robot that spits out the results on command? No. I decided the only reason I wanted to be a part of this AWESOME industry is to make a difference. To give back what I needed most in my life: confidence and self-love through the body of movement.
Power and Empower
I call it "Power & Empower." That has been my mission statement since 2009, when I started teaching. I teach, train, and continue to learn because I care. (Sweat Life founder Aly Teich recently wrote on the intention and language trainers choose to use.)
⁃ I care because I know what the feeling of doing your first pull up does for your confidence.
⁃ I care because I know that getting up consistently at 6am and exercising daily gives you more drive, dedication, and commitment outside of the gym.
⁃ I care because I’ve seen clients overcome fears and losses and breakups.
⁃ I care because I've helped clients enable themselves to be a standing role model for their own families and children.
⁃ I care because I know the power fitness has on people.
Fitness is the gateway to being happy
Exercise should be constructive: moving with purpose and building you up. It provides strength physically, mentally, and emotionally. Fitness is the gateway to being happy.
Hold on wait... If fitness is the gateway to being happy, why are there so many people fighting it?! What infiltrates this protected safe haven we should be living in together peacefully? It's because it is fundamentally turning us against one another. The industry is preying upon itself and setting standards for us to live up to now.
Standards like: Who is the leanest, strongest, prettiest, most captivating.... or worse, who gets the most "likes" on social media?? As if LIKES mean you're successful, credible, or actually doing GOOD for the industry! The girl who is better at marketing, is more physically appealing in photos, and generally likable through social media will be more successful even without a single certification or experience under her belt.
A positive force
I remind myself daily when I wake up before I go teach that I can be that positive force in your life that EMPOWERS you to stand up against these industry standards. I eat healthy and workout because I ENJOY it and I LOVE it. At the end of the day, you should be doing it for you and not for a “like,” or a vacation, or a shoot, or whatever... Obviously unless having a six-pack is part of your job.
I don't starve myself or over exercise because I know there is damage in those extremes. It is not sustainable and will honestly set you even further back once you hit that brick wall. Hard. I am a Wilhelmina Fitness model, Barry's Bootcamp Master Trainer, and Nike Elevated Trainer. There is a lot of pressure on you when your body image is responsible for putting a roof over your head. You want to book the job, sell out your classes, and be taken seriously because you walk the walk and talk the talk.
I do both. It took me a while to find balance and happiness with my body. For years, I struggled with not having the smallest thighs, or chiseled arms, or whatever was my focus at the time. I tried different diets on my body, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, even worked with nutritionists to formulate the right diet for me. I found none of these were sustainable for MY body, and left me dying to reach the point where I could eat "normal" again.
So I had to take a step back, what makes me happy?
Exercise, food, friends, family, inspiring others, effecting change…. I knew right then, that fitness wasn't a way to make ends meet. It was my life. Fitness gives me life, quite literally.
If fitness is the gateway to a happy life, then fitness should be sustainable, right?
THE ANSWER IS YES.
We need to take back control and stop living in a fabricated world of social media and private groups of mean girls that don't let you in if you're not under 120lb, a model, rich, in the front row, rocking a certain pair of kicks, or WHATEVER. My friends and I build each other UP, we don't exclude others or break them down. There is nothing beautiful about putting someone down, or making others feel inadequate because of the number on their waistband.
WE DON'T WANT TO SIT WITH YOU ANYWAY.
Fitness is for everyone. It exhibits endorphins and healthy hearts and lungs. It's embodied by greatness, so let it be that. Enjoy the body it allows you to move in freely, and never take advantage of it.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
We only get one body to live in our whole life. It's up to us to love it, feed it, move it, and respect it as we see fit. Any time you learn something, apply it, if it brings you to a more positive place. There’s a saying I have on my wall at home: "Once you know better, do better." If I only allowed myself to have love for my body when I'm at 12% body fat or when I'm working out 9 times a week, or living off 1400 calories, or eating pizza, chips, and fries…. these are rules that limit us to a certain amount of happiness. Why prevent yourself from being happy daily, ESPECIALLY when these are rules YOU created for yourself based on a standard that someone else set?! IT IS LUDICROUS… and not the lovable dirty south hip hop rapper. Physical strength produces a positive body image, which in turn enhances our emotional strength and mental strength.
At the end of the day, we all want to be loved. So, let's start with loving ourselves. Approach your relationship with your own body with care, defy social media and industry "standards," and set your own. Live consciously, healthily, and decide to love yourself and your body unconditionally. You won’t regret it!
“Power and Empower.” That’s what Rebecca Kennedy stands for. A NYC-based fitness expert and celebrity trainer, Rebecca strives to improve every client’s life, both physically and beyond. As a former NFL Cheerleader, USA gymnast, and professional dancer, fitness has always been a passion. She believes the benefit of physical fitness is more than just looking good, it’s feeling good. To see her, is living proof that fitness is a way of life!
Graduating with a Bachelors in Dance and Business Minor from Dean College, Rebecca is currently a Wilhelmina fitness model. You can find her working with Nike, Reebok, Under Armour, and she has been featured in Runners World, Fitness, Self and Health magazines, just to name a few. With her career in fitness, Rebecca “lives a life she doesn’t need a vacation from.” She is AFAA and NASM certified, and has taught for Equinox, Club H, Vebo, and Bootcamp Republic. Currently teaching at Barry’s Bootcamp, Kennedy brings incredibly fresh programs to every class with high energy that will motivate, challenge, and inspire you to be better than you were yesterday.