Transformational Leadership

Fitness: the Great Equalizer

Ainsley Laing asked:

(c) 2008 Ainsley Laing

One of the most rewarding things about being a fitness trainer is empowering someone to accomplish their goals and watching them do it. Everyone has a different reason for embracing a fitness lifestyle, but the outcomes are pretty much always the same. The person feels better and has more confidence because the body they live in is vibrant, healthy and able. One thing’s for sure, mentoring someone to transform is great fun.

My husband Dave and I live in an interesting community. It is full of “expats” (people who do not live in their home culture). As such, my fitness clients are from everywhere. This makes for interesting communication challenges and requires some different mentoring and leadership skills. One group that I have is a group of young Japanese women who don’t speak much English and I, unfortunately, have very little Japanese. We use lots of body language! Oops, I digress.

Getting to the idea that fitness is a “great equalizer”. What does this mean? It means that doing it means getting better at it. This applies to everyone – no matter what level they start from. As an example, I currently have 2 clients that joined me about the same time. Both are women. One is 55 and has always been sedentary except for light housework and walking. The other is a thirty year old dancer who became overweight over a period of about 10 years. The older lady is motivated because she is having health problems from her lack of activity and extra body fat. The younger lady is motivated to become leaner and stay active.

When I met the older client, I thought she was much older than her years by the way she moved and the way she talked about what she could and couldn’t do. When she started exercising, she moved slowly. Her joints were stiff and her brain to body communication was slow. She started at level one. Within weeks, however, she was moving well and fluently. She has since reported that her blood pressure is lower and she says she feels so much better. This week in step aerobics class, she was keeping up with the much younger participants!

The younger client is really seeing body changes and feeling different. She is becoming leaner and has radiance to her skin that is remarkable. She plans to run a 10K race in 2 months. She is looking good and feeling good!

The great equalizer: Both started about 2 months ago. Both are consistently exercising and making healthier food choices. Both are beginning to see and feel results after 2 months – within the scope and realistic expectations that they had when they began.

The greatest thing to witness through this transformation is what I like to call “the side effects”. When I talk to both of these ladies about what they are doing, I feel their happiness and their sense of empowerment about taking charge of their own health. It is hard work, but the rewards are tangible and visible. The changes are emotional as well as physical!

Last night Dave and I were talking about his fitness “transformation”. You see, he decided 7 years ago (age 41) that, although he was exercising and eating well, he wasn’t as fit as he would like to be. So he embarked on a journey of transformation. He was so excited about his change that he wrote a book about it! (Read about his experience at He and I started dating after he had “transformed”. I said to him that I am not sure I would have dated him if he didn’t keep himself fit.

Ok, ok… even I’ll admit that this sounds superficial, but for me it’s not. Why? Although I DO appreciate a man (or woman) with a fit body – it’s much more than that. A person who keeps him or herself fit has an aura about them – a sense of empowerment about their own health and body. And let’s face it, empowered people are attractive people!

So, congratulations to all of you out there who have recently made the decision to embrace a fitness lifestyle. Enjoy the journey!

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