In this Tonal Talk, body-positive fitness professional, Coach Natalie, sits down to talk about training at any size.
One of the most important aspects of feeling strong is being comfortable in our own skin. Tonal’s Coach Natalie — a body-positive fitness professional — sits down with Kate Telge, our Community Manager to talk about how finding peace and acceptance in our bodies can transform our movement and fitness journeys for the better and make us our strongest.
Body positivity and inclusivity play a huge role in Coach Natalie’s approach to her clients and the programs and workouts she creates for Tonal. “What I love about Tonal is every coach brings their own knowledge, which I think is really special, so wherever you are in your journey, there’s a coach for that.”
Coach Natalie started doing ballet from a very young age, and in junior high — when bodies naturally start to evolve — a lot changed. “Directors started having meetings with my Mom to say I wouldn’t get the good roles unless I became skinnier. So I was dieting from a very young age and had an association of success, acceptance, and being liked with a thinner body.”
“Then I got into personal training and weightlifting and found really quickly that the more weight I lost as a personal trainer, the more validation I got from my colleagues, bosses, and clients. So the message that thinner is always better was constantly reinforced.”
“It got really out of control a few years ago. I had zero mental health and was constantly thinking about my next meal, and I wasn’t any happier with my body than I had been at a heavier weight. One day I was just like, I can’t do this anymore, it’s not worth it. I’m going to let my body look like whatever it does, and that’s got to be better than me torturing myself over calories in and calories out every single day.”
‘Not everybody experiences a difficult relationship with food and counting calories and losing weight, so a body-positive approach isn’t necessary for everybody. My programs aren’t motivated by weight loss goals and celebrate other achievements we can accomplish with our bodies.”
“I want people to walk out of a workout feeling like they’re good enough and instead of thinking they have to change to be successful and worthy of love and respect. So be kind and please don’t put yourself down.”
Body-positive programs on Tonal
These are some of Coach Natalie’s top picks if you’re looking for some specific body-positive programs.
- Strong is Beautiful: “This is my program, it’s all about strength training, but it has body positivity sprinkled through it.”
- Fast Fitness: “This is another one about building muscle, but we also have body positivity throughout it. I’m constantly reminding people that you are enough.”
- More Gain Less Pain: “This is a great one from Coach Liz. It’s such a body-positive program, and I love it.”
- Easy on the Joints: “Another body-positive program from Coach Liz, which is great for starting out on Tonal.”
If you’re intimidated by strength training, try these tips
Coach Natalie works with lots of clients who have felt intimidated by strength training. If you’re just starting, Tonal has body-positive ways to help you overcome that.
- “Tonal is so great because it’s in our homes, and that makes it so much more accessible. The gym can be a super intimidating place, so that’s definitely an upside to having Tonal in the privacy of our homes. You can do workouts at your own pace and figure out what works for your body.”
- “With Tonal, you can play around with the movements and understand what feels good for your body.” If there’s ever a move that you don’t feel comfortable doing because of injury or personal preference, you can always use Tonal’s Movement Replacements feature to swap any move for an effective alternative.
- “Find a coach who makes you feel welcome. It doesn’t matter who you choose. If that coach makes you feel like you belong here, workout with them.”
- Tonal gives you lots of moments to celebrate beyond the number on a scale — from volume lifted and crushing different lifts to important milestones like your first, tenth and 50th workout. “If the scale and inches are important to your journey, you can celebrate that. Just don’t forget to celebrate other things like feeling stronger, moving with less pain, having more energy, and crushing other personal records.”
Important things to remember about body positivity for your journey
- Body positivity is about honoring all bodies. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what body positivity is, especially from social media. Body positivity is about size acceptance. So accepting your body as it is and also respecting other people’s bodies as they are.”
- Body positivity is not about promoting unhealthy habits. “It’s about the fact that people in larger bodies and people in marginalized bodies deserve respect and to be treated as humans and equal.”
- Body positivity isn’t exclusively about size or weight. “Once you start digging into body positivity, you realize it’s this huge umbrella with so many nuances. It’s complicated because people have different experiences to add to the conversation, and different information to teach us. Body positivity is about being inclusive to different ages too. Many of our elderly gym members are often kept out of the fitness conversation, as are people with disabilities. It’s about making sure all races are visible too. We want to see bodies of all ages, all races, and all abilities everywhere.”
- You can be body positive even if you don’t feel confident all the time. “It’s really just about accepting and respecting yourself. I don’t know anybody who could say they love everything about themselves, but body positivity just means you don’t put yourself down over it.”
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Tonal Talk is a weekly Facebook Live interview series highlighting stories of real strength from within the Tonal community.