Competitor Blog: Practice Posture

When I first starting posing I would get scolded for looking down. Sand, my posing coach, would ask me what I was looking for on the ground. When you walk on stage you want to have your head up and look the judges right in the eye with a look that says “this is my stage and I am the best thing on it”. You can’t do that with a rounded shoulders and eyes averted.

Over time, I think a lot of women learn this unconscious habit of casting their eyes downwards and slumping forward. It’s as simple as avoiding dealing with other human beings or appearing “too inviting”. If you don’t make eye contact you don’t give another person a chance to try to grab your attention and interact with you. Slumped over you try to make yourself look less noticeable and unassuming. A lot of people will accuse you of “sticking your boobs out” simply from having your shoulders back. If you have ever had to fend off a person’s unwanted and over-zealous attempts at wooing, you totally understand. If you have yet to experience this yet in life, I envy you. 

I also would be scolded for walking like a lumberjack. I can’t help it! I have places to go and no time for a sassy little sashay. But when you step on the stage that is EXACTLY what they want. You can’t stomp out to your spot on the stage, rigidly do your turns and stomp off. Well, you can but it won’t place you very well.

I practice my “girl walk” up and down the straight stretch of hall at my work. It’s relatively low traveled and it’s nice and long. Here I practice how the “girl walk” feels and try very hard not to overthink it. It’s a gentle sway, almost drop of the hip. It is a weird thing to try and explain and I imagine everyone feels it a little different. Once you start focusing too hard on the walk you will lose it.

So I started to make the effort to improve my posture and exude self confidence. Throughout the day I try to correct my posture. I do stretches to help loosen up the front muscles that have been shortened from years of crap posture. I do exercises to fire the back muscles that help pull the shoulders back. When I walk down the street I send mental feelers out to my body; are my shoulders back and posture decent? Do I have my head up? When I am at the gym walking through the floor I give myself a little pep talk “Are they looking at you? Damn right they are looking at you! You own this place. You are the winner of this day and you keep that tiara up high!” It sounds ridiculous but it does really help get you in the brain space you want to be in when you step on stage.

By working in these little bits into my day I am practicing portions of my posing. It is important that you practice posing until it is automatic. That way if your brain tries to freeze come show time your muscle memory will show you the way. If you are not practicing for a show practice for life. Fix that posture!

TransActive Fitness:Less Can Be More

He hands me the dumbbells and tells me to do overhead presses. I aim to please. 

Halfway through...I just can’t. I am surprised, and I think he is too. They aren’t THAT heavy, and definitely nothing compared to the burly guys around me grunting and groaning and straining. 

Here let’s give you less weight then…(me, mortified and grateful)

So he does, I am able to bust out the set, and I am also silently judging myself.

I get through this workout...I work really hard, and I feel awkward that I am just not pushing the weight I think I can, no matter how much I focus my mind and muscles.

I come home and ponder. Is it my diet? Is it because I have been gone for a month travelling? Am i getting old? Is it because I had strep throat the week before?

The next day I wake up and my arms are wrecked, in a good way. I message Mike and tell him so, and he reminds me, “If the muscle engagement is on point the low weight can be a tool to help you contract the muscle. It's not always necessary to get as much weight up as possible. Like in life, it's all about how you engage with it.”

That helps me adjust my perspective about what I accomplish and what I struggle with…”it's all about how I engage with it.” 

I give myself permission to listen to where my body is at without judgement, to advocate for it when it tells me less weight means more precise form, and to have compassion for it when it is vulnerable. 

Now I can't wait to see what kind of conversation I get to have with my body next session.

TransActive Fitness: The Sweet Spot

My body aches for days after our workout.

I am not injured, I am not unhappy, I am just sore.

There is a good kind of a sore when your head's in the game, when you have have a trainer that pushes you past your perceived limits but not past your limits of personal safety.

This is the sweet spot.

Sometimes I judge myself at the point of “failure” when I physically cannot finish the set I am doing. Sometimes I lament outloud. Mike is always good at reminding me that when I cannot finish the last couple it is because we have found the sweet spot, the right point, and if I could finish then we hadn’t yet found it.

Working with a personal trainer serves so many purposes. To help us authentically stay within our sweet spot, to help us avoid getting injured, and to put our successes and perceived failures in context. There is a physical sweet spot, and also an emotional and mental sweet spot.

As a trans person there are ways I limit myself all the time with my thought processes, and also ways perhaps I set a higher bar that is not realistic for me to reach. All of these things could keep me from moving forward. Having someone external who believes in me, and can work with me to find my sweet spot in every session impacts not only my workouts, but also my way of thinking about myself in the world.

Thanks Mike.