OMG, you went to Duke?!

 1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

We are all guilty of making assumptions. Maybe guilty is the wrong word. Assumptions can often be helpful – as in, “I assume I’ll need an umbrella, as it looks like it’s going to rain.” It’s when we make unwarranted assumptions about other people that we get into sketchy territory. I’ve now worked in the fitness industry for 4 years, which is long enough to notice the assumptions that are often made about fitness professionals. I thought a blog post would help clear things up. I realize I may sound a little defensive when addressing some of these points. But who isn’t when they’re speaking about their passion? Plus, they say writing is one of the best forms of therapy, right?

Here are 10 assumptions that are often made about fitness professionals, and my (somewhat sassy) retorts to each. Please note that all of these points stem from personal experience. I am not going to assume that all fitness professionals feel the same, but I’m hoping there are many out there who can relate.

  1. You only eat “healthy” foods and judge others who don’t. False! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out to eat with someone and they’ve said ‘don’t judge me’ when ordering something “bad” or assume that I only eat salads. Ummm why do you think I started exercising in the first place? Because I love to eat! True, I try not to go overboard all the time, but I can scarf down an entire pizza or a pint of icecream with the best of them, and I’m not ashamed.
  2. You workout all day, every day. Negative! I take two complete rest days per week. And if I’m feeling lethargic or beat up, I’ll take more. And while my job may be active in the sense that I’m not sitting all day, I certainly wouldn’t consider walking around and giving cues to be a workout.
  3. You only want to talk about fitness. Ha! That’s like assuming your gynecologist only wants to talk about vaginas. Sure, I love geeking out about fitness – it is my passion after all – but I’m not that one-dimensional. I read books. I watch movies. I care about the environment. I love animals. I hate small talk. The list goes on…
  4. Working out is easy for you. Sure, for me, finding the motivation to work out might not be as difficult for me as it is for others. It makes me feel good. I enjoy it (for the most part). But that doesn’t mean that the workouts themselves are easy. First of all, have you ever seen my face or heard the noises I make?! Those aren’t just for show. Second, if your workout is easy, then it’s probably not doing much for you. You must challenge your body in order to see results, both physically and performance-related.
  5. You were always athletic and fit. I wish! Yes, I played sports as a kid, and in CrossFit, I was able to learn new movements fairly quickly thanks to my gymnastics background. But I most definitely have not always been fit. I remember my parents trying to get me to go running with them when I was in middle school and I HATED it. I got a gym membership in high school, but I can’t say I enjoyed working out. I just did it because I didn’t want to be fat. When I came home after my first year of college, I had fallen victim to the “Freshmen Fifteen.” I was always envious of the “skinny” girls who never seemed to gain or lose weight no matter how much they ate or how little they exercised. Me, always fit? I don’t think so.
  6. You only hang out with other fitness peeps. True, I may have lots of friends in the fitness industry, but that’s in large part due to our schedules. When you have free time in the middle of the day, you tend to find others who do as well, and a lot of those people happen to work in fitness. But that doesn’t mean that just because you’re not a coach or a trainer that I don’t want to hang out with you! I have plenty of friends who don’t work in fitness, and I find it both refreshing and important for perspective to maintain these friendships.
  7. You get paid to workout. This one always makes me laugh. I guess people think that being a coach also qualifies you as a professional athlete? Find me the job that pays you to workout and I’m in!
  8. You don’t struggle with body image. I think this assumption might have to do with my choice of workout attire. Yes, I often take my shirt off while working out. Yes, I rock booty shorts on a daily basis. But it’s certainly not because I think I have a perfect body. It’s actually because I get hot as balls when I’m working out. I cannot tell you how many times women have said to me, “I wish I had the same confidence as you to wear those shorts.” Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not special! The first time I wore a pair of “booty shorts,” I was self-conscious for the first five minutes, and then I totally forgot I had them on. It also helps that the gyms I workout in typically don’t have mirrors, so I don’t sit there and scrutinize myself while I’m working out, because, let’s be honest, you are your worst critic. Do I struggle with body image? All the time. Do I obsess over it and let it control my life? Absolutely not!
  9. You’re not book smart. Ok, I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but one thing I’ve noticed since I started working in the fitness industry, is that people are genuinely SHOCKED when I tell them that I went to Duke. I’m not sure if it’s because I come off as not so bright, or because of the assumption that people with Duke educations should be working 90 hour weeks at investment banks. I just find it odd that when I had a corporate job and frequently behaved like a drunken fool (not saying that the two go hand in hand), my place of higher education was never questioned, but once I switched to a less conventional job, it’s suddenly surprising. Sure, I could probably have gone to a less expensive school (yes, I’m still paying on my student loan and will be for another 2 years), or maybe not even gone to college at all, and have pursued a coaching career. But I also believe that everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t gone to Duke, I may not have moved to New York for my first job in investor relations, which led me to a job in digital marketing, which led me to the Fhitting Room, which led me to the Cayman Islands. But I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they don’t mean for their comments to be offensive. That it’s just unexpected for someone with a Duke education to have such an “easy” job. Which brings me to my final assumption…
  10. Being a(n) [instructor, trainer, coach] isn’t a career. As someone said to me the other day, do you really want to be coaching classes when you’re in your 50s? Well, maybe I do! You don’t have to be the best athlete, or the epitome of youth, to be a good coach. You have to be knowledgeable, get along with people, and a good communicator. Those sound similar to the qualifications for other careers, don’t they? I know plenty of amazing coaches who are older, or have children, and are still making a perfectly good living. Plus, there are several other paths that I can see myself going from here. Maybe I’ll become a head coach. Maybe I’ll start my own online coaching business. Maybe I’ll open my own gym. Unforeseen doors open when you follow your passion. Who knows where my career will take me!