Last week, I received an unexpected but not unexciting email. “Congratulations!” it said. “You have been selected as the November 2019 PFP Trainer of the Month for Personal Fitness Professional! Your story and what you’re doing in the industry is inspiring!”
“Whoa.” I said quietly to myself.
“What?” asked Marty from the lounge chair next to me.
“I…uh…I just won an award.”
“WHOA!” he said. “That’s awesome, baby!”
I demurred a little, but then finally gave in to my excitement. Because it is awesome to receive an award like this.
PFP is an industry publication “providing relevant, useful information to enable fitness professionals to be successful financially through sound business practices and training expertise.” Right up my alley, and certainly something I believe in. So to be chosen by inspiring and successful peers and industry leaders, from a hefty number of monthly applicants, means a lot.
The cool part about this particular award is that it’s focused on trainers and fitness professionals who are truly raising the bar in the industry – for clients, and for fellow fitpros. To showcase that, each winner gets a “Raising the Bar” feature in the magazine where they can tell their story.
In my notification email, I got all the details and interview questions for the article feature. As I read them, I felt a mixture of nervousness and excitement. In the last question lay an opportunity to genuinely tell my story, but also to rather directly confront how that story exposes real challenges in our industry. The Q:
What is one way you are dedicated to raising the bar in the industry?
At first glance, maybe you’re thinking that can’t be that big of a deal. But if I give you another minute and an eyebrow raise, you might think a little past that, and remember, oh yeah…this is Kourtney we’re talking about. It’s not just going to be about quality training programs and professional polo shirts.
And nope, it is most decidedly not going to be about that.
As you might expect, I took the opportunity firmly by the hand. And much to my surprise, editors didn’t question or edit a word of my response in the published article. (Much respect, PFP.) Here’s what I shared:
The fitness industry has a diversity and inclusion problem, and I’m actively working to address that issue in whatever small ways I can, locally and online, as an industry professional and in my own further education. There are so many places and spaces that are still exclusive and unsafe for some folks, and in a profession that’s made up of professionals who want to help people, we need to open that door and make those places and spaces more inclusive and safe. I’m a member of the NSCA Women’s Committee, working to encourage and promote advancement and promotion of women in the sports and conditioning field. I’ve also been closely aligned with Girls Gone Strong since I started my business, advocating for body-positive, evidence-based, realistic, compassionate, and inclusive information accessible to all women. We have a lot of people to help, and we need to do a better job of making sure that means everyone.
I mean, if we’re going to raise the bar, let’s do it. Let’s not shy away from what’s going on and how it affects clients and professionals.
Interestingly, and on a directly related note, I had a meeting Monday morning with a woman from my church. We were just chatting and getting to know each other, and in doing that, she asked me more about what I do. I told her about my philosophy and approach, and she immediately perked up, told me how awesome and necessary my work is.
As she continued, she talked a little more personally about how frustrating the whole fitness thing can be. Turns out, her office is in the same building as a personal training studio. It’s one I know of, and I had an inkling of where she was going next. My inkling was right.
The very next thing she said was how intimidating the place seemed to be. That there was no way she’d ever step foot in there, seeing the people who go in and out of the doors. That clearly, only a really fit person was welcome there.
In a word: exclusive.
In a nutshell: not helpful.
In short: exactly why I didn’t sugarcoat anything about my dedication to inclusion and diversity in the fitness industry.
That interaction – which, by the way, I’ve had over and over again in the last eight years I’ve been in fitness – is a big part of my why, and also my how. It’s where Big Arms, Big Life® came from. It’s why I keep educating myself, and it’s why I keep speaking up. And don’t misunderstand – I don’t mean to say I’m the best at this. I also want to highlight that there are some great fitpros and facilities out there leading the way. But there are also some who can serve our greater purpose with a lot more intention and compassion. I believe that’s possible, and I certainly hold myself to that standard as an industry leader, and as a service provider and partner for my clients.
I firmly believe that in working with clients in the way I do, in having conversations with them and with peers, in asking questions and confronting our challenges – over and over again, mind you – I move the needle. We move the needle. More professionals make more of an impact, beyond surface level. And more people get the help they need when it comes to movement, fitness, health and overall lifestyle.
Together, we continue to raise the bar.
Awards are great, and trust, I’ll take ‘em. I’m proud of this one. (Accomplishment is one of my top core values, after all.) But the adjacent opportunities they afford are even greater. If I can make one more person comfortable with fitness, the gym, their body; if I can make one more person mindful of how they make clients or potential feel – that’s the bigger win.