Saturday Group Class Registration

What does it mean to do Moore Than Fitness?

Early in my career at the gym in Toronto where I started personal training, I had a consultation with a new member that changed everything.

Lauren walked shakily over to the table where we ran our consultations (which just happened to be positioned front and center, void of privacy, next to the stairwell where all the members go back and forth between the gym and the locker rooms.) She sat down with her arms crossed and her eyes cast downward, only nervously peering up every time another gym member walked by.

I started to go through my normal sales consultation spiel, asking her height, weight, medical issues, and fitness goals; the same tired approach beaten into my head by months of sales training. I had been taught that people come into the gym to lose fat, get stronger, put on muscle, or get out of physical pain. And as a veteran trainer of all of 6 months of experience, I was clearly the expert ready to teach her all that she was doing wrong and how we could fix her.

After I got through my 3rd or 4th rote question, I stopped, noticing that her whole body was shaking and that she was doing her best to hold back tears. I set my pen and clipboard down and finally took a moment to actually SEE the person in front of me.

She wiped away a couple tears that had broken through the barrier.

‘I’m sorry. This is my first time in a gym and I’m absolutely terrified.’

This one line changed the type of trainer I wanted to be and the fitness experience I wanted to offer.

Setting aside my clipboard, I took off my hat of ‘trainer’ and ‘expert’ ready to explore what fitness meant to her and how she had come to be terrified of the gym. I asked questions not from the perspective of I have the solution for you!, but rather how can I get to know you better. Tell me what you need in this moment. And, how did the gym come to be such a thing to fear?

What I learned from her and from many people over the years since is that fitness feels like an unwelcoming and foreign space, filled with people not like them. People who will be quick to judge them for any blemish, mistake, or faux pas they make. They have learned that their body is fat, weak, broken, or just wrong and the gym is meant to fix them. To help them conform to what we SHOULD ALL be seeking.

Lauren explained that she didn’t have any of those types of goals. In fact, she wasn’t sure in that moment what it was she did want. She knew exercise was something she should be doing for her overall health. Her life experience immersed in a culture that demonizes slow, fat, and weak had her believing that she didn’t just have all of these problems…she was all of these problems.


Due to decades of powerful fitness marketing, people are extremely aware of how their bodies do not measure up to an elusive gold standard of what a body should look and feel like. Gyms, both conventional and niche, are perceived as equivalent to car garages. You bring your body to the gym because it’s broken and in need of fixing. The gym, and working out, is just an unpleasant means to an end which you must endure to get the outcome you have been told to want. Burn more calories. Do more reps. Work off those cookies. Make yourself sexy so that other people will love you. Suffer. Repent.

But what if the gym and fitness as a whole could be something different entirely? What if instead of coming in as a problem in need of a solution, we came to the gym to challenge ourselves for the joy of working on a challenge? Or to feel good in our bodies? Or to intentionally build community? What would that experience look like? Would it be more comfortable? Would we look forward to it? Would we be excited to experience just how good we could feel? Would we go because that’s where our friends are and we’re excited to cheer for and support each other?

If we can push the objective from the former to the latter, then we’re doing Moore Than Fitness. We’re all in it together. We’re building community. We’re hearing the bullshit fitness marketing and saying ‘this is not ok and we’re here to do it differently’. We’re welcoming people into our space to collaborate and co-create a new standard of fitness where all bodies are celebrated. Where we’re challenging ourselves in our own unique ways, free from other peoples’ expectations of how we should change.

A dozen years later, I so wish that I had been able to express all of this to Lauren. I hope that she has found a fitness space and routine where she feels comfortable and accepted. I hope that she no longer feels terrified of the gym. I hope she has found a community of people with similar lived experiences where she can walk in fully confident that she is welcomed and respected.