And by bombshell, I mean a war zone.
My relationship with my body has been a self-deprecating one at my highest of moments, and an abusive one at my lowest. I’m not special though. I assume I can speak for at least one other person when I say body positivity is a concept I apply to those surrounding me and not one I actually afford to myself.
If you’ve read my stuff in the past, chances are, you’re not necessarily used to this level of vulnerability coming from me. I often talk about spotlight issues, and yet rarely actually take the spotlight. I’m a digital clapback queen, but in person, I try to make myself as small as I possibly can. My body offends people and as such, I avoid going to places where I feel as if I’m taking up “too much space”.
This isn’t a woe-is-me post though. I started working out at the beginning of September and today will mark one full month of me taking agency of my own body. I started working out not just because I was overweight, but because I hated my body in such a violent and visceral way. A way that I realized even people bigger than I didn’t.
A few weeks ago there was a trainer out of Nassau that went on a rant against a pole dance instructor. He venomously called her fat. A woman who strives to lead a healthy and active lifestyle was addressed with such hate that I knew right then and there that a trainer like him wouldn’t do. When I made the decision to get a trainer and start going to the gym, I knew I needed to find someone that would be kind to me, even when I thought I didn’t deserve the kindness. Someone who pushed me, but didn’t look at me with the same amount of disgust that I look at myself. I knew I found that when I signed up with Alex Pelanne at Bombshell Fitness.
The first day of my workout found me at the front of the YMCA, kicking literal rocks and high key trying to avoid walking inside.
When I finally did make my way through the many bodies working out on the main floor of the gym, I realized just how invisible I was. No one was watching me and this was good – invisible is something I can do. I’m open and honest enough to admit that I don’t fit the Bahamian beauty standard, so invisible is a spectrum that I’m completely comfortable existing on.
Except, what I perceived in this space as invisibility wasn’t actually me not being seen. It was me not being judged. Everyone’s so focused on working on themselves that it doesn’t even occur to them that there is someone struggling to make the short trek through the gym and into the all-female circuit room at the back. I’m comfortable being invisible, I’ve said this – but I’m still trying to define the feeling I felt when I realized my gym was in fact, a safe space for me.
Like most of us, I spend way too much time scrolling Instagram feeds, and that’s how I met Alex. Her constant body positivity posts were not only encouraging, but I found that most days after checking out her IG stories, I would feel a little more confident when walking into a space. Flowing red hair, a bad ass attitude and a body that was built through hard work, tears and pizza Alex embodies everything a 21st century warrior princess should be.
I’ve made this article sappy enough so it won’t hurt when I say that I felt this way because not once did Alex leave my side. My form was trash and my endurance levels shot, but not once during the corrections of my ‘curl to press’ or ‘reverse lunge’ did she make me feel like I couldn’t or wouldn’t get better.
I may have been flopping on the floor like a drunk turtle during ‘Marching Abs’ but I never got that frustrated look that often comes when someone realizes I can’t actually do something.
Alex may very well be one of the best trainers on the island, but she’s still human. It’s evident when she breaks count to talk about the one time she saw J. Cole in concert and touched him.
A complete fangirl moment that could almost drown out the groans from her clients trying to make it through a core routine that I’m just not ready for. I never thought the phrase “My abs feel icy hot” would ever make sense, but it does when it’s screamed in agony from the mat of the circuit room floor.
You would almost forget that you were in the middle of a Goblet Squat because somewhere in the room, someone is talking about the waffles they had for breakfast, and how that was most definitely not on the meal plan. I like this, though – it’s real. No one in this small group of fitness invalids is pretending to scarf down broccoli everyday and actually enjoy it. It’s a tone that has been set by Alex herself. This small community that she has curated allows people to unashamedly talk about their cravings and how they indulge in those cravings sometimes.There are no Instagram filters, just derpy meme moments that let you know it’s OK to be honest.
I didn’t think I would find that here. At no point did I think the gym would be my favorite place right now. I thought it was a place where I would try to meet my unrealistic aesthetic goals, and hang my head in shame every day I felt further away from said goals. I’ve found a sense of strength both physical and mental.
I’m not too sure how much of this “journey” I’ll end up posting about but I really just wanted to let everyone know that for the first time I don’t feel like I’m just taking up space. I feel like a bombshell.