Words matter. Creating inclusivity in the gym.

Today, we’re getting deep into science by asking a question. “Does metal have a gender?”

Now, before you think too deeply about this – let’s skip to the answer. No, it’s metal. This is why in our gym, when describing the barbells that are available for use, you’ll hear our Coaches refer to them by what they weigh (20 kilos, 15 kilos or 15 pounds), not who has historically gravitated towards using which of those weights and what gender they identify with. To some, this may seem trivial, to others it can be transformative, to everyone it’s an example of why words matter – especially in the gender charged space of fitness.

Let me start by saying that our gym isn’t perfect – our goal is to always be learning how to best support our community. Our job is performance – helping you change from something to something else (gain weight, lose weight, get faster, improve a workout time and so on). The words that we use in that process can either enhance or derail that process far faster than the physical aspect of that process. Let’s give a quick example. A new athlete comes to train with us who happens to identify as a man and today’s class calls for pressing a barbell overhead. Let’s also say that this man doesn’t have the best shoulder position because he works at a keyboard all day. If the Coach instructs the class to grab “men’s or ladies” bars, this guy is likely to use a bar too heavy for his shoulders and get injured. The Coach could have been super attentive to watching movement, have a great attitude and even playlist, but their word choice set this athlete up for a potential injury.

Now, what if you identify as transgender? You’ve just been told that for starters you don’t belong because there isn’t any equipment for you and that’s even before we even get into what’s happening with your shoulders. If our goal is performance, all we’ve just done is derailed that process by using a few words.

Words also matter when it comes to what you say to yourself as an athlete. For starters, are you calling yourself an athlete? You should be, because you are one. There are no try-outs to be an athlete, if you’re moving your body with a purpose, congratulations – you’re in. How many times do you hear someone say “I’m not an athlete” or claim how they won’t be able to do a lift or movement. Our self-talk has a tremendous impact on our performance. Tell yourself you will or won’t do something and guess what – you’re right. However, what if you give yourself the opportunity to embrace what’s at hand? The doors open.

The language that we use in the gym as Coaches starts that process. The more closed we make discussions (gendering bars for example), the more closed our athletes will be as a result during their internal conversations. Our words matter because they are either creating growth opportunities or fixed outcomes. Beyond creating a space that is inclusive of gender and physicality, what you hear will have an impact on what you say in your head. Let’s not forget that inclusivity also applies to goals too.

So, while you might shrug it off, we don’t and that’s what makes our approach different.

We deal in helping you conquer the unknown and achieving what you never knew you could. It starts with words and raising the bar on that standard.

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