Nope, my super-fit sister is not my trainer

I really struggled to write this story.

I don’t talk about the fact that I am not a skinny person very often but I figured this was about as good a time as any to “come out the closet” as a ahem “not size 2.” Or 4. Or 6…you get the drift.


Here is what happened.

I’ve been using Habit Forge for the last month,  trying to build up a habit of moving my body everyday. Over the course of these last 21 days, I’ve really fallen in love with lifting and look forward to my strength exercises every other day. My dad and I have built up a fun routine that we do together which helps keep me motivated and I feel super hardcore and awesome after I  complete a new workout.

This weekend, my very fit sister came into town and she invited me to workout with her and try some new moves. AWESOME! Adding to my strength exercise bank.

My sister and I had the best time. I was already looking to our next workout. This was also my 21st day working out which means that I had completed the 21 days straight challenge, another milestone that left me feeling hype and proud of myself as I was leaving the gym.

On our way out, this trainer stops us. Wait, actually, he stops us, talks on his phone for 5 minutes and THEN proceeds to tell my sister that, and I quote “it has been brought to his attention that you are training someone and you can’t do that.”

I’m sorry, what?

“This is my sister, we were just working out together.” My sister said.

“Well, you can’t train. It doesn’t matter. We have a policy against training in the LA Fitness and you were training her.” He said, making sure to not make eye contact with me.

Apparently, there is a policy. You can’t train anyone at the gym unless you are a LA Fitness trainer.  If you ever been to a gym, you have probably seen mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and friends, working out together. It’s pretty common in the workout world. But because my sister is super thin and I’m not, I must be getting training. We must be breaking some type of rule.


This is, of course, not the case. I have a trainer who is not my sister.  I work out regularly. I was just doing the moves I already knew and we were doing them together. I even showed her 1 or 2 moves she doesn’t usually do.

He made an assumption. A sizeist one.  Someone looked at me and then looked at my sister and decided something fishy was going on.

My sister flipped. My dad furrowed his brow and I tried to keep myself from crying. In the end, they apologized. The manager said it would be addressed. We went on our way.

In the words of everyone on the internet, SMH.


My first instinct was to hate. Hate that gym.  Hate everyone who works there and everyone who goes for being such shitheads and creating such a sizeist environment.

Then my next instinct was to feel hurt and vulnerable. I’ve always been that girl who has NEVER cared about going to the gym. Even at my heaviest, I never cared because I didn’t think anyone noticed. But now, it seemed like people were watching. Someone had to be.

Then I felt self-righteous.

“This isn’t about me.” I thought.“ It’s about the other women who finally gathered up the courage to go to the gym and make a change only to be reminded that even though she is at the gym, she still has no business being there.” Blah, blah, blah. I was ready to go to war.


But then I  had a eureka moment. All of the body love crap (and I’ll be honest here, I’ve always secretly thought it was bullshit) finally made sense to me.


My body has ALWAYS (in my mind) been a work-in-progress. Don’t get me wrong, I happily cheer on my plus sized sisters-in-arms, encouraging them as they shared their body positive posts, wrote articles and shared pictures in bikinis. I like. I share. I retweet. I’ve even taken classes. I just quietly go about my business, stressing out over a english muffin, jumping on another cleanse or forcing myself to jump on the elliptical after a big lunch .As a result, despite my best efforts, I never truly connected with the movement.  I never thought I needed it. I was on the way down, anyway.


What I realize after this experience is that body love has nothing to do with our bodies but the stories. It’s about taking ownership of our stories so that we can be resilient in the moments when the visions and hopes we have for ourselves are challenged by what other people think. It is for those moments when we can’t stand everything we are, because of what everyone else thinks.

It’s about knowing, in that moment when the tall attractive trainer told my sister that she couldn’t train her chubby sister at the gym because it’s against policy, that it’s not about me. It’s about him or that other person who somehow felt threatened while watching my sister working out. SO threatened that he/she felt the need to say something.


I know, duh. But I never got that.


MY body acceptance movement is not about big sweeping gestures. We don’t have to wear bikinis because we can or take pole dancing classes because we can.


I don’t have to stop working out and just “be” when I KNOW I have goals and things I want to do that I can’t do right now. I can keep working. I can keep watching what I eat.


It’s about knowing how to feel and how to act while we do whatever we want to do. Body confidence and acceptance is for the journey, whatever that journey looks for you. Before now, I never understood how those look together.


This is how it looks: I am going to go to a gym (maybe not that one), and keep doing what feels good. Lifting weights feels good, so I keep doing it. Working out with my sister is fun, so I keep doing it. It’s my hope, (and this is MY version of doing what I can for the movement), that it encourages someone else to pick up some dumbells or try out one of the machines. I want that woman out there, wherever she is to have the bravery to take the first step that she wants to take because she knows another girl her size can do it.

And I look like a bad ass doing it.



  1. Elizabeth says


    Yesyesyes… this is as real as it gets. The stories we tell ourselves are real. The stories other tell about us are not.

    Well done, Ms. Freakin’ BAMF truth teller.

  2. says

    First, I love you Shenee.

    Second, I hate that they treated you that way. It’s not the way to do business, period. Imagine if you treated your community that way? Sometimes businesses forget to TALK to their community before they make a stupid mistake.

    As a plus sized girl I’ve never identified with the movement. More because of myself not being completely comfortable with my fitness level. I won’t wear a bikini, and I have suffered several ankle sprains because of my weight. It’s embarrassing to me. I care about my weight and I know I’m a very (slow) work in progress. I’ve been wanting to get back into paying attention to my health, I’m glad you wrote this. I needed a kick in the ass.

  3. says

    HUZZAH! I love to hear this sort of thing. Isn’t it just weird/amazing/relieving to have that lightbulb moment? It took me FOR-EV-ER to get there, my own self, but damn. What a life-changer. So glad it happened for you. <3

    And for the record: You always look like a bad ass.

  4. says

    Shenee, you are a goddess on earth and your sharing is so transformative for so MANY others.

    I’d read another blog post where a mother & son had the same experience (Mom blamed for “training” her son. Wow, people in gyms must be really getting GOOD with their bodies to be viewed as TRAINERS. That says something. Hahaha.

    Keep being you. You rock. xo

  5. says

    I’m sorry that trainer was a d-bag and made a stupid assumption. I love what you have to say about the movement though, and the fact that you can still be accepting of people’s different body sizes while wanting to become fitter and healthier and stronger! I’ve always struggled with wanting to be THE epitome of fit. You know, the Shape / Women’s Health / Fitness magazine epitome of fit. It’s hard to let go of that and realize that being healthy and fit and being thin and muscular are not the same thing—that you can look different from the women on those magazines and still be able to run a marathon, or do 50 push-ups, or be some kinds of Sarah Conner in Terminator badass strong. And, alternatively, working out and wanting to be able to run a marathon, or do 50 push-ups, or be Sarah Conner strong doesn’t mean you’ve fallen prey to the thinspo fitspo whatever of our western culture. So, good for you for going after what YOU want and leaving behind the greater societal “rules” or “movements” and focusing on yourself. Sometimes it’s worth being selfish, especially when it makes you feel happy and awesome.

  6. says

    So many golden ah-ha’s here…

    Not buying into other people’s judgments as yours!

    “…knowing how to feel and how to act while we do whatever we want to do.”

    and so so many more.

    Thank you for you xx

  7. Therese says

    Thank you for writing this article. I’m so glad you were able to come back around to yourself & continue what is best for you. That is what is important & that is what this test was all about. Congratulations!

  8. Pat Pitts says

    I totally agree with you Shenee. You never let anyone define, who you are. They have the problem not you!!!! BE YOURSELF and proud of your body image. Thank you for writing this article.

  9. says

    Love this so much Shenee! Your words will stay with me for a long time.

    ‘I don’t have to stop working out and just “be” when I KNOW I have goals and things I want to do that I can’t do right now. I can keep working. I can keep watching what I eat. ”

    You are awesome!

  10. says

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve always hated gyms and the way I feel like I have to work out just to be “worthy” of going to the gym… I’m only slightly overweight, but I’m REALLY out of shape and have to start somewhere. :)

  11. Cyndee says

    Love it! Love your spirit! And I too love lifting and the Bad-Ass way it makes me feel! You did it too, you wrote and conquered a fear. Thank-you. You inspire me :) Keep it up Sister!

  12. Kaly says

    Thank you for sharing your story!! You are totally right that it is all about them and their issues, not yours. You know, the person who compained could have been a personal trainer who was jealous about not being able to train there. They might have thought, “If I can’t train someone here, they can’t either.” They might have been so wrapped up in their story of unfairness, that they didn’t even notice you were having a FUN workout session and not a training session. Regardless, you are the one that benefitted in the end because 1. you learned some more self-love and understanding, and 2. you’re sharing your story with others and it makes a difference. All the best!

  13. renee howard says

    I am so fortunate to have two beautiful daughters. I am so proud of you being able to voice your opinion on such a sensitive subject to so many women. Hopefully you will inspire so many others to realize it’s not about what other people think , but the fact that you are getting yourself in shape ! People should fall in love with their bodies no matter what SIZE and SHAPE they are in. Someone else cannot determine how your day will be, and how you should feel about yourself. Hopefully WE with our beautiful curves will embrace our beauty! We will love ourselves enough to WANT to be healthy by doing the things needed to stay well ! You are lookin good and doin good when you work out girl ! I know you will keep up the good work. Love, mommy

  14. says

    Oh my Goddess! Shenee!!! I can relate to this post on soooo many levels.

    When eating, I’ve encountered…not “why is she eating that?…it’s why is she eating?”

    Apparently a size 16 girl shouldn’t need to sustain her life with food. I was eating a kale salad by the way.

    At the gym…at multiple locations….I’ve encountered “OMG, aren’t you too big to be at the gym?”

    I’ve also seen TRAINERS rudely stare at me and the larger people I arrived with.

    I’m sooo happy you shed light on this matter, and linked it back to SELF-LOVE and unconditional body confidence.

    By the way, I think you are hot, sexy, gorgeous, stunning snd pretty fly…even at your current weight.

    I’m sure the BSB would think so too lol :-)

  15. Angela says

    So insightful and inspirational! This is exactly what is needed. Congrats on being a brave and admirable young lady. Keep up the good work!

  16. Pamela says

    More power to you young lady always stand up for your self, who does he think he is, we need more strong young lady like you, congratulations continue to be your best

  17. Sera says

    Love this story! And love that you came out on the other side of it instead of remaining within the vulnerable/hurt or even the piiiiiiiiissed stage (which I know I’d be all fired up about too!). <3

  18. says

    I love that you shared this story – I believe sharing it makes it all worthwhile [even though I am really sorry to hear what you went through!] because you have definitely inspired me to go to the gym. I have always been a thin person and I think in my mind that meant I didn’t have to do any exercise. After high school I just stopped. It has taken a long time to put two and two together and find that this has been doing my body [and my mind, and over all sense of well being] a major disservice. I know that working out would have helped with a chronic disease that I’ve had and it would have just made me feel better and more alive. I let my fear of gyms, and my prioritizing of other things, get in the way. Thank you for inspiring me to feel the fear and do it anyway. Or try something else. I think you are wonderful! And I love the name of your biz!

  19. says

    Beautiful post. I always hate to hear women say that when they walk into a gym, they feel like they don’t belong there. Everyone belongs there, but I completely understand how unfriendly the environment can be.

    Congratulations on finding your own personal way to the body acceptance movement. I think we all need to remember that our bodies are constant works-in-progress, not matter our size. We age, we get sick, we get stressed. Life creates so many challenges and our bodies are always needing our love to adapt in healthy ways.

  20. Jocelyn Paige says

    Beautiful sentiments, beautifully written, by a beautiful young woman from a beautiful family that I love so much! Love your thoughts on THE movement, and movement. Hoping to meet you someday my qarter-aged niece-from-a-sister-from:another -mother.

  21. Jocelyn Paige says

    Beautiful sentiments, beautifully written, by a beautiful young woman from a beautiful family that I love so much! Enjoyed your thoughts on “the movement”, and movement. Hoping to meet you someday, my quarter-aged niece-from-a-sister-from-another -mother.

  22. says

    ROCK ON! You did not have a “duh” moment. You had a moment of empowerment, a moment of clarity, a moment of “Heck, yeah, I’ve got this!” Shame on that guy, but what a great moment for you. Keep on going girlfriend! You’ve got this!

  23. says

    Great article! I am a Lifestyle Trainer for Mobile Professionals who has had this happen to her but on your sister’s side. I’ve worked out with friends or family and had someone ask me what my credentials were and that I can’t train people in their gym. Excuse me? Unless they are paying me (which they weren’t) I was just sharing knowledge and getting a workout in with them.

    Great share.

  24. says

    I loved your podcast with Kari Chapin and was so inspired, then I came here and saw this amazing, powerful and authentic post. You are definitely badass! Can’t wait to read more!


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