TransActive Fitness: How can I blog if I cannot lift my arms?

How can I blog if I cannot lift my arms?

I can hear Mike behind me sharing “Come on buddy, you got this,” so I plunk my arms down on the table and have at it.

You see, that is the thing about working with Mike. He pushes me to my limit, not over, not just up to, TO MY LIMIT, a place I have not yet figured out how to get to on my own.

“Don’t make up your mind that you can’t do it before you even start…(the next rep)” he encourages. Reminding me that it is my mind that is being exercised equally with the rest of my muscles. This will prove to be a key reminder.

I have spent years developing my lower body, and Mike is committed to helping my upper body “Catch up.” So today we are doing bench presses, lat pull downs, a series of curls, Arnolds and rows, LOTS of rows.

“Tuck your elbow in as close to your body as you can!” Mike reminds me. So I try. And I can’t get it very close. Mike has me put the weight down, curious about this phenomenon and we investigate together. My elbow, even without weight, does not touch my body. He asks if he can touch me then presses my elbow to my body. It feels AWKWARD. Hm, he says in thought. “No worries. Keep it as close as you can. You have spent a lifetime working around a part of your body that no longer exists. We might spend what seems like a lifetime getting it there, but don’t worry, with diligence we will move closer every time we train.”

I am not like other guys in the gym. I have patterns and habits that come from a life I am leaving in my history. I am not like ladies in the gym, I have a shared history and no longer a shared hormonal profile and body shaping. Mike treats me like the individual, complex, determined body builder I am striving to be, helping me sculpt shape from hard work, curiosity, acceptance of the awkward and even a bit of humor.

TransActive Fitness: Every Body is a Riddle - A Transgender Journey

Mike: “OK, take off your shoes and hop on.”
Me: I am horrified. Think light. Float like a feather.
Mike: (pulls out a case with a device that has crab claw) “I am sorry this might be a little uncomfortable. I will go as quick as I can.”
Me: You want to pinch me where?
Mike: Great. Now we have a base line, let’s get working!

It is awkward, I am not gonna lie. Calipers hurt, though maybe not as much as my pride. I am not going to sugar coat it. What I can offer as solace is that Mike Welch makes it as painless as possible, and through this process I am reminded me that the biggest obstacle to the change I want to see is my own pride, my own mind.

I am back in the gym at Better, Stronger, Faster Fitness because I know I can speak frankly with Mike, which is probably the most essential aspect of our working relationship. That, and a commitment and willingness to learn and grow on both of our parts.  Neither of us are experts on Transgender specific fitness, there is little formal “expertise” in the field. I come into this with the expertise of knowing my own body, and my commitment to research what trans people who have come before me have found useful and challenging. MIke comes in with expertise in anatomy and physiology, nutrition and hormones, bodybuilding, body-leaning, and a clever mind who like to solve riddles. I know I am a riddle, unraveling, opening doors to my own well-being and for other trans folks interested in a similar journey.

I know there are ways I can sculpt my form that are affirming. I know there are ways I can take charge of my body with firm focus AND compassion. I know this. He knows this. He has not traversed this exact landscape before, and yet we both believe that his experience as a field guide and ability to adapt will take us through this epic journey Better, Stronger, and Faster on the other side. Off we go!