One of the most discussed issues in feminism is body image, and how women are forced by society to conform to a certain ideal of femininity which is often far removed from the way most women look and think of themselves. In this context, phrases like ‘keeping fit’ or ‘working out’ can sometimes be frowned upon and regarded as anti-feminist because they encourage a desire to change our bodies rather than accept them as they are.
For most of my life, I too had a complicated relationship with fitness, which revolved around wanting to change my body in some way, mainly through the combination of fitness and diet. But in the last few years, I am slowly discovering a new relationship with exercise; one that doesn’t necessarily have an end goal but is much more about how exercising itself makes me feel - empowered, confident, connected to my body and happy in my own skin.
Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. Working out - Pilates, Yoga, running, dancing, boxing or whatever it may be, ticks all these boxes. First and foremost - by taking time out of our busy schedules and prioritising taking care of our bodies over other things, we already gain control in a very meaningful way. When I exercise, I recognise how powerful my body is, and that I have the ability to change it in many ways. This doesn’t have to be about fat loss or muscle gains, but for the benefit of my health, and for its ability to make me feel like a strong, confident, empowered woman.
Confidence in our bodies means being happy in our skin whether we’re tall, short, slim or curvy. To achieve that, it might help changing the end goal of a fitness regimen from “having a beach body” to “feeling good about yourself.” Those two are not mutually exclusive, but they do not always go hand in hand. Gaining body confidence has an amazing knock-on effect - confidence in our appearance can translate into confidence in every other aspect of our lives and help us set new goals and accomplish them. I absolutely love feeling fit, fierce, and ready to take on the world after a good work-out session!
For so many years I regarded exercise as a ‘necessary evil’ that I had to endure if I wanted to look good and love my body. It was a chore and a drag, and I had to use all my will power to get out there and move. I know I’m not alone in these feelings. Lack of motivation and busy lives are the two most common barriers to exercising. But what if we turned all of this on its head and began to think about exercise as a form of self-care and self-respect rather than a chore? Exercise can be amazingly selfish in that good, self-care way, like taking bubble baths or reading books on the sofa. By taking the time to exercise I say to myself and the world - ‘I love my body and therefore I am taking care of it’.
Have a great March
Maya and the yoopod team