Strong is Beautiful

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For the first time ever the other day, a family member saw me for the first time in a couple of months and the first thing she said to me was, “wow Emma, you have gotten BIG!” She poked and prodded my shoulders and could not believe the size of me. To be honest, initially I felt a little offended and self conscious because I have never experienced that kind of… honesty? before. So I said to her, “Not big, just strong”. Her reply was “No, BIG!” I then ended the conversation and just walked away.

I know many women in the fitness industry, and especially Crossfit, experience this type of criticism and I applaud those ladies who manage to just brush it off and walk away with confidence. But, I can also see how it can negatively impact your own sense of self and make you question whether your physique is “normal” for a woman or even attractive.

After this encounter, I thought about it a lot and about how it made me feel about myself. I have always been confident in my own body and proud of the way I look as I have worked hard for my muscles and physique. But of course, like most people, I have my insecurities. After giving this situation a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I am actually happy that she called me “big”. I figured that in her opinion, my physique is abnormal for a woman as she works in a very feminine industry and her own body shape resembles that of a classic woman- curvaceous and soft- so obviously my hard and muscular body was foreign to her. I am also working damn hard to build more muscle, especially in my upper body, so actually what she had to say was a compliment!

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Photo on the left was taken in 2010, photo on the right was taken December 2016

It fascinates me how many different ideals there are for the way women look. Men generally just have one ideal body type- lean and muscular. women on the other hand can be ‘curvy’, ‘skinny, ‘toned’ or ‘muscular’ and in all instances there are going to be negative and positive comments. But, what is apparent is the growing acceptance of muscular and fit looking women. Who said that girls can’t have muscles and be strong? Long gone are the days when women had to rely on men for everything. Physical fitness not only brings outer strength but also inner and mental strength which drive women to have to motivation and passion needed to succeed in a male dominated world.

So ladies, f#$k what the haters say… being strong is sexy. So embrace those muscles and walk around with confidence.

More then just a coach 

Many people who start Crossfit fall in love with it and immediately want to do their level 1 course. They then think that this is enough to go straight into training a group of people in this amazing sport. Wrong! 

I did my personal training certificate in 2012, did my CF-level 1 course in October last year and am currently in my last year of a  human kinetics and ergonomics degree. I have worked as a personal trainer and netball coach, yet I still do not feel like I am the best Crossfit coach or know everything you need to know to be a great coach. However, I am learning and teaching myself continuously. 

The problem comes in when people think they have trained themselves for years in a regular gym… Transitioned to Crossfit, did their level 1 course and now suddenly they are qualified to coach? 

I have been shadowing the owner of the box I’m at in Durban and he is amazing! The way he explains exercises and corrects form is impeccable! Of course this is after years of experience, learning from others, continuing education and an undying passion for Crossfit. 

In my opinion, a good coach needs to have enthusiasm and a really good eye for spotting incorrect form as well as knowing how to deal with individual personalities. There is so much more to coaching Crossfit then simply saying “do a squat”. It takes confidence, patience and humility to get to a level of coaching that inspires, pushes and motivates members to be better then they were yesterday. 

Every time I walk into that box I want to impress the coaches because I know how much they are putting into teaching us and getting us to be better. This makes me push so much harder and gives me more to work for. 

So, if you’re thinking of being a Crossfit coach, really consider everything it means to be one. Members are trusting you with their bodies… Trusting that you will tell them what’s right and what’s wrong, when to push, when to scale and when to RX. You are their role model and you need to know about the human body, the way it works, which muscle does what movement, and how to execute movements safely and efficiently. You also need to know how to communicate all of this to your members in a way they can understand and translate into their own movements. 
I try to do as much as I can to be the best coach i am able to be by continuously readings,YouTubing and doing the movements myself. Watching other experienced coaches has really helped me a lot and I am very excited for what the future has in store!