She also emphasizes exercise as a source of intrinsic pleasure, not as a vehicle for delayed gratification like a cookie, better fitting clothes, or approval from your doctor. “I operate from a space where exercise is fun and engaging, just because it is,” she says.
If you’re worried you’d never work out if it weren’t for lasting motivations like toned arms, know that research shows just the opposite: A 2017 study found that participants were more likely to get regular physical activity if it aligns with short-term goals such as reducing stress in the moment. In another studyconducted in 2018, participants who were asked to focus on body function during an exercise class reported higher levels of satisfaction afterward, compared with those encouraged to think about how it will improve their appearance.
This distinction is at the heart of what Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, lecturer at Stanford University, and author of “The joy of movement, ”Teach her students. “One of the biggest principles of body neutrality is exercise or movement as a way to get in touch with life, not to change your body,” she says.
However, this does not mean that long-term goals are worth discussing. “Ultimately, enjoying an activity is what it means to you,” explains Dr. McGonigal. “You may enjoy strength training, even when parts of it are uncomfortable, difficult, and embarrassing, because you like the idea that you are getting stronger.”
For Justice Roe Williams, a certified personal trainer, body neutrality represents a clear rejection of the “no pain, no gain” mentality of the mainstream bodybuilding industry. That is also the main tenet of his organization, Fitness4AllBodies, which guides fitness professionals in a more thoughtful approach to clients across a spectrum of abilities and genders. His aim is to help clients “break out of the mold and assumptions they’ve been taught about bodies needing to be corrected or bodies needing to look a certain way,” he says.
People who are struggling to escape that self-monitoring can benefit from an environment where they cannot see their own bodies. Leanne Pedante, Head of Fitness at Supernatural, a virtual reality workout app, began her career as a personal trainer working with people recovering from eating disorders. “One of the biggest requests I hear from clients is, ‘Where can I work out without a mirror? ”, she said. She adds, even if body neutralization doesn’t come easily, “this can be learned, when support is provided and triggers are removed.”
Criticisms of body neutrality argues that Zen-like pursuit of a sense of separation is not enough to strengthen self-image. That may be true, Ms. Pedante said, but it can still be a valuable tool in that process. “Most of us have black and white, ethical ideas around what is wrong with our bodies,” she says. “Body neutrality is about getting rid of those harmful myths, so that we can move towards new ways of thinking.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/well/move/body-neutrality-exercise.html What is ‘body neutrality’ and can it change your work?