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E16: Decolonizing Fitness w/Ilya Parker

February 17th 2020

What is toxic fitness culture and how the fuck do we fix it? In this episode, hosts Marybeth & Marcia explore racism, ableism, transphobia, fatphobia, and more with Ilya Parker of Decol... More

this is disabled girls who lift. We are reclaiming what's rightfully ours. One podcast at a time. It's mary Beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that. A bliss comfort zone. Mm hmm. Welcome folks. Hello! Hello, Happy to have you back on disabled girls who lift podcast today. We have William Parker. We're talking about de colonizing fitness. I'm Marcia from south florida. Hey, it's mary beth from California and I am so, so, so excited to have Ilia join us today because a lot of our conversations overlap. I think a lot of what we talked about in both of our podcasts really just started a zone um overlap. So it's great to have that type of conversation going. But Alia Parker coming in from Durham north Carolina. So, so, so excited to have you Italia is a black trans person who is a physical therapist, assistant medical exercise coach. He's got 13 years of rehab and functional training experience started like Marcia said, de colonizing fitness, awesome instagram awesome website to follow if you don't already.

Um but it's basically a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel and supportive body diversity. So welcome Ilia and thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Alright, so we are, I mean, I have actually been following you for a while now so to have you on here and actually speaking to us. It's like ah this is that I know people fangirl over like celebrities and stupid ship, right? But I'm like yo this person out here is putting in that work and they want to talk with you. Thank you girl over energy. That type of energy. I'm just curious what made you, I mean we're all living it right? Like we're all living in this ship. But what made you wake up and just decide when they're like, you know what like I need to make something like what made you just just existing to being like I need a little bit more. That's really fun. Um So I guess when I started my medical transition like this this whole gatekeeping thing um when you decide to transition and usually there's a medical piece to it where you have to go to the doctor and get, we'll actually start with the therapist and then the therapist signs off for you to go to a doctor and the doctor signs off for you to get hormones and then you gotta go through surgery and all these different things.

And so when I started my medical transition, you know, I experienced a lot of medicalized fat phobia because my my doctor at the time was just like, hey, you need to lose weight. I cannot prescribe your testosterone. They didn't have any diagnosis associated with my weight. It was just literally like, hey, I feel like you're fat gate keep you and you need to lose it and they had like some arbitrary number like 50 or £60. Um And then um You know I have no, no, you know, medical backing to tell you why you need to do this. Um but I want you to lose weight and then I'll prescribe you testosterone. And so that that began my fitness journey because I was not, I didn't play sports as a child. I didn't give a funk about working out. Uh and so I was like just bombarded with what I have deemed toxic fitness culture um with a lot of thin folks, a lot of able bodied folks telling me what fitness should look like and how I should move.

And you know, it was very gendered. And then I was just like, hey enough is enough, like I'm not getting what I need and I'm paying a trainer to tell me that I look like ship and I'm paying a trainer to, you know, to project all of this transphobia. Um and homophobia on me. Like I don't have to put up with this ship. Like I can train myself especially with my medical background. I'm like, you know, and that's really what started the fitness portion um of my journey. But I always have had like a grassroots kind of foundation been in grassroots organizing for now about 13 years. And most of my grass roots work centered racial justice, gender justice, L. G. B. T. Q. I. Plus issues. And so yeah, be colonizing fitness with birth. Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of like a natural progression. This is what's going on in my life now, this is personally happening to me like okay here we go. And you kind of just snowball into boom. Here it is.

And as of today the colonizing fitness is still just ilia parker 100% just doing all this work all day every day it is. And um you know at first when I started I still was working PRN as a P. T. A. At my local at a local hospital. And so I had you know that subsequent quint income to kind of hold the business. Uh Now it's just solely me on my own literally living off of donations. Unfortunately most of my merchandise sales goes to a pot that is like a sort of like a scholarship fund so I can continue to work with people um at sliding scale rates or no cost at all. And so I'm just like digging further further in this capitalistic whole because I don't have a typical like you know true business model in the way that I run my business. And um I have people volunteer here and there most people that want to support me aren't local.

Uh And north Carolina is just a really shitty state, a very conservative state. And so it's just not easy uh Like like major um states and bigger cities to to really get like any kind of LGBT related movement or business off of the ground. So I've been you know getting a lot of pushback over the years, but I still stand, you know, and I'm very thankful for my online community. Yeah, they left me a lot. So hey and I have a very amazing partner who helps take care of me. I stay with her right now and it is what it is. That's amazing. I'm really glad that I'm really glad that you see what's lacking out there and you're, you're really trying to put out what you want to see, you know, what you needed yourself because when you're in a very toxic medicine field already in your own personal trainer didn't want to train you. That's shitty, but a flower bloomed, you know, from that, from that dark space. Um and you're making it accessible, jeez that sliding scale actually goes a long way and I really hope that you do get those, you know, funders because this ship is, people are noticing and realizing now that this is more necessary now than ever.

Yes. And I can relate to that accessibility portion because I'm doing that in a way, I mean I have a business where I have many businesses, whatever. I'm a physical therapist, I have a cash clinic, but I also see kids on the side whatever. But I mean people out there are charging hundreds of dollars for cash for cash, pT services and I'm just like why? You know, and, and then I try to give students discounts military get discounts like wherever I can if you go to my gym, I give you a discount because I'd rather you be able to afford to see me and work towards doing something than being like, oh well I don't have any money. I'm just going to be broken now. Like that's some bullsh it. Yes. And that was what I really struggled with. Um, being in the medical industrial complex because I feel like physical therapy, I feel like a lot of the allied health services in general are just super, super elitist, especially in the south. Um, I know, you know, in PT school with me, I was the only black person, the only one that graduated out of class of 30. Uh, you know, and crying right?

And I feel like it's like that honestly across the country and then when you get into the prices, even even folks who can't afford Petey, the pts are so biased, so racist, so classist. Um, that oftentimes they'll still still deny um, to even pick up patients even in the hospital, the pts that I worked with, they oftentimes wouldn't wanna, you know, see certain patients and they wait for the other black pt to come in and then they often times put when, when I would then go to see them after they evaluated him and stuff. I always had the black guy who was the drug dealer and the gang member who got shot and they couldn't understand his language and they just felt fearful when they went into the, you know, the hospital room to see him and all this bullcrap. And I'm like, man, I can't, I just I just really got burned out in that field. Um, but you know, but like I named with my medical exercise background, I've been meeting with my medical background and then kind of transferring that to the medical exercise piece.

I think it's been been helpful. I can the continuum health care arena too. Yeah. And I think that's a good point is that that elitist that you know, this is for us, that's not for you. It's kind of it's in medicine and it's also in fitness. Like that's how we get what what you call the toxic fitness culture because that's kind of wrapped into that also. It's such an exclusive entity. It's like, oh we're fit. We have rock hard as I have my shirt off over here. Oh, but you know, No, no, no, no, you no, you can't, you can't be here, right? And then you're penalized because you can't afford it and no, right? And no one really looks at the systems that are creating this, you know, the disparities. They're just, you know seeking to blame the person for the ill health, the person for being fat and you know, and and not realizing that number one. Um Oftentimes what survivorship looks like is that we don't even have time nor do we even think about wanting to access fitness.

And then when we do access fitness is not in a way that can help us, you know, fall back into our bodies realign with our bodies. It's in ways that continue to police us and further disconnect. Yeah. And said you're denied your denied access, your denied rights. And on top of that these programs like you can find some cookie cutter programs online. You know, tack on $50 $75 tack on a personal trainer. Another $50.75. Oh wait you're trans. Oh wait you're disabled. Do you have a chronic illness? I've got to get special training or I don't even know how to work with somebody like you talk on another $50.75. It's like goddamn. For those of us who are trans who also may be fat and disabled. Tack on the fitness clothing that we keep that isn't available for us. And then tack on the fact that we literally have to educate the people that we're paying for a service that are supposedly the experts um who are also telling us what our bodies should do and how our bodies should look like as if they're the experts of our body and our lived experience.

Yeah. So you you legit trained yourself. You didn't have after that trainer denied you uh you went and like just experiment on your own or did you have somebody by your side. Well let me say I denied that trainer and several trainers, you know what I mean? Because they didn't they didn't have what I needed. So yes, then I started studying before I got my fitness certification. I just started studying about exercising because I had no clue. So I started typically like most folks start, you know, joined the gym doing random things on the machines in the gym, not really having a rhyme or reason for what I was doing. And then I picked up, went on amazon, picked up a few fitness related books, I think one of them was like the encyclopedia of something with Arnold Schwarzenegger's picture on picked up those bodybuilding books because I've always kind of did Loki love bodybuilding um in particular female bodybuilders, I just love that masculine ized physique.

Um So I did follow a lot of female bodybuilders just because they were gender fucks in and of themselves, even if they weren't trying to be. And um and I've always just been into that. So uh kind of went down that rabbit hole for a little while and just started learning things, taking some of the anatomy and physiology ship that I learned in school, applying it. And yeah, and started training myself and then some of my kindred, my local comrades and community, we're asking because they noticed the Modifications in my body, especially with me trying to masculine eyes, my physique specifically. So um some of my trans homies were like, Hey, would you mind training me and training a lot of people for free. Um because I've been training, let's see. I started my transition in 2010 And I started training folks in like 2012. So my body has taken has went down so many twists and turns with my physique looks and and so yeah, I was very, very into bodybuilding.

I also pushed a lot of toxic tropes of what manhood looks like when I first started training and I and I did, you know, I want to acknowledge that piece. But yeah, pretty much been on my own. Hey, Happy 10 Year Anniversary. Thank you. Thank you so much. Now within that I've stopped transitioning so many damn times of what we call d transition. Um but yeah, that's when the journey started. Thank you. And what is that for? Somebody who doesn't really understand what that even means. What does that mean to transition or to not? Do you have to do anything to be trans? Can you just wake up and say I'm trans And that's it. There has to be something that happens. And what does that actually mean? Yeah, you so it's layered. So absolutely, you can you can identify with whatever gender you seek. It's a it's 7/7 billion people in the world. It's over seven billion gender identities. We we just only know man woman because we've been scripted to only know man and acknowledge man and woman.

So no, you don't need to do anything specifically to transition. Um, but with that being said through the medical industrial complex and the pathologic pathology. Izing of Transnistria to me, um it's a very medical based component where with that, as I named earlier, comes this piece of taking hormones looking a certain way, getting gender affirming surgeries and I don't want to diminish any of any of those things because many trans folks feel those things are necessary for their mental health, for their well being. But I also want to acknowledge that you don't have to engage in any of those things and you're just as valid. You also don't even have to have gender dysphoria. A lot of people think, well, I don't feel that I'm trans because I don't necessarily hate my body or I don't look in the mirror and wish my body, that's a script that we've carried because that's mainstream kind of um begins to learn more about trans nous and what it means to be trans. We have this kind of notion of what I looked in the mirror or I was born in the wrong body and that's bullshit too.

That's exactly the sentence that I always hear. Yeah. And and so many people, so many people say that and because we just want to compartmentalize things that we don't understand and try to put this nice neat bow on it, but bottom line is whatever individual you come across who tells you if they choose to disclose their gender identity, their pronouns. That is what it is and ain't no questions asked period. You respect them for for what that is as far as it goes and that's as far as it needs to go. You know, if somebody wants to have that conversation with you, that's one thing. But I do feel like there's also that bit where people just like demand information, like, like if you say you're trans, oh, oh, did you get so did you do this? What do you do? Like you but you don't have to be, you're not there. They always make it about them. They always make it about them and how hard it is for them to make sure that they don't miss gender you, but it's like, what about what I'm going through what?

Right. Right. And it's so easy to be like, well it's so hard. I've known you as this is no different. If somebody gets married and changes their last name. It's the same thing. Yeah. You know, and a lot of times we, we use these tired weak excuses when really we just want to continue to be bigots. We want to continue to be transphobic. And that's really what it is. And I wish people would name that I have more respect for folks who say, hey, I don't like you because you're trans than that and it is what it is then people who want to pretend to be allies or to pretend to support the community that I exist in when really they, they easily can access the education to learn about trans folks in the age of information. Now it's no excuse. It's no excuse for people to be racist. Well, racism is just embedded in our society, but it's no excuse for you to play the ignorance card. Exactly. Or the, oh well, I've never had a transfer and I never had a black disabled friend ever in my life.

So you gotta teach me No. Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, as much as therapy is a blessing to have in this world in this society and how necessary it is for people like us. I think it's equally as necessary to like closer circles that don't know how to accept us yet because I just a tough conversation with a family member who can't get over their daughter transitioning into a male like, oh, you know, how, how am I supposed to feel as a mom losing her daughter? I'm like, well, you got to see it as a birth of a new person and accept them. It's hard. You know. Yeah. And and, and, and I'd rather slip it to and have compassion for a person who was ascribed to gender without their consent because gender. Yeah. We know it's a construct, but it's often violently placed upon us and then I want to lift up those of us or I don't I am not intersex, but I want to lift lift those who are intersex to who have often had to undergo at very, very young ages.

Um you know, very horrific surgeries on their genitalia because again, we're trying to create and re or trying to reinforce the gender binary. That's fairly new concept in the grand scheme of things, you know, because so many genders, especially in countries and societies across the world culturally have existed well beyond man and woman. I think in fact, the United States is the one that upholds that the most. But if you look at Asia India, a lot of, you know, and go way back, that ship has not existed. But this is the one that we feel is the monolith for the way we should live our lives and that's ridiculous. Oh yeah. He's not even a lot of consent until after you're 18. That's the worst part. Yeah. Yeah. It's all said and done and it's like, oh wait, but but Oh right. And then you wonder why so many people struggle with not being connected to their bodies. And while we walk around and we're like this, this head type of society, because we put so much emphasis on the importance of the mind and the mind is the central processing unit of the whole body and all this ship.

And then we're walking around and we're not even free in our own bodies just walking heads. You know or moving heads in this world. Yeah I was I was listening to have you ever is it what is it? Hood rap no Hood rat to head wrap. So I'm saying it all messed up. So I was listening to an episode but it was like a way older one and they were talking about how our society is just stuck on a binary period and start thinking about it like damn they're so right. So male female that's it. You're white or you're not white. That's it for cough. You know you're you're able bodied or you're not far off like you're you're beautiful or you're not. And by beauty I mean you know sis blonde, fair, the bluest of eyes conventionally beauty. If you're not cough like we're literally obsessed. And if you ask anyone to think outside of the either or then they want to take things personal like oh I'm not a bad person or you know you ask people to take time to think about. Okay well what about this other side of it?

And there sorts of confused all of a sudden like and the and the and the thing that really bothers me the most about the binary systems is that the direct opposite? You have to be in direct opposition to the other side of the binary. You know because I'm you know oftentimes me identifying as trans masculine as well as non binary. People think that when I say down with the binary um that I mean that I don't like when folks identify within the binary, I don't give a fuck that folks identify within the binary. I'm just saying just because you want to embrace masculinity or you identify as a man doesn't mean that you have to be in direct opposition to all that is feminine. That's exactly, you know, for me at least. And I think that's where we run into a lot of trouble. Is that okay able bodied or not? So everything that I can do, I'm able bodied so I can live weights.

Whoa. There's a page of people lifting weights. I don't get it right. And then when you and then when you see this rare unicorn butterfly person who is who has a physical disabled disability that's present and they're lifting weights or doing some ship that you think is just beyond the realm of what everybody can do all of a sudden they become this fucking inspiration porn, which small bullshit. I that is some serious and we had a whole episode. Pretty much dedicated to that. Yeah, that one's how to treat your token disabled friend. Yeah, we met that. Uh, but I'm curious. Do you so I'm sure we all have individual situation where someone's being able as racist or transphobic whatever? How do you like on a day to day do you sit there and fight back against everyone like do you have the energy for that or do you just kind of keep rolling?

How do you address that day to day? Um It it varies on the safety on the physical safety aspect for me because I do Yeah, although you know, most most marginalized folks just because of sheer survivorship have to spend a lot of time educating people because you know, otherwise we can't live, you know, if if we didn't take the time to put work out into the world too, bring nuance to bring layers and depth, people just would not fuckingo or wouldn't wouldn't care to know in a way that brings our humanity back. So I think every person who is marginalized just has to do some type of education is just built into our survivorship. So it just, it really depends on the, you know, the mood I'm in. I mean spoons I got what you know what I mean, if I'm just just just out of it that day or whatever. But I funnel a lot of that like my day to day shift. I might not say anything in person again because of my safety but what what I then do is turn around and make that into a mean or some type of um jewel I'll drop on social media or something and that's just the way that I can still push that education out into the world?

What about you mary beth what how do you handle it? You know, it's tough but it's it's exactly the way that I mean you know there are days where we have our off days and don't want to are just aren't motivated, motivated talk and educate somebody aren't motivated to you know, train what you're supposed to train this week. Um but it's so important still that we realize that our mental strength is still there and the fact that you know these fake feminists are trying to still erase you know the disabled ship that we experienced on a given day and the trends ship that you experience on a given day. You know and Erasing those stories like that's that's kind of what fuels my fire. Yeah. Yeah. I mean it depends, it just depends and there are times where it's like, you know like it might be the end of a long day and it's just like somebody at work that you don't really fun with it anyway and you're not even going to talk with them for another two weeks and they might say some like ignorant as ship and I'll just be like, you know what all right, maybe not today.

But then on the other hand there might be, it just depends, it depends where I'm at like you said how many spoons I got do I think this conversation is going to get anywhere if I started right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think what helps me a lot is kind of removing myself from the conversation a lot of the times because it helps me uplift others and their disabilities and their you know issues. So if somebody laughs at something, you know at work, I speak up about that even though I still have my own insecurities when it comes to my disability. Like um that that helps me be a lot less able list, you know, internally able list. I mean it's kind of a weird space because in one sense you could understand that like it's not everybody's job to be the activists and to be the advocate, you know, be the one that's trying to advocate for everyone all the time. But on the other hand, for the people that are that's you know, that's how we move things forward because we could post wonderful lovely things online but like we know how algorithms work.

Like somebody that just voted for trump and is going to a rally tonight is never going to see our fucking page. Like yeah, so it's kind of tricky because you know that those are the real life conversations definitely matter, but I can't always have them. I really have to be honest, I'm not always there. That's so true and that's why it's important. You know, I always tell folks who hold that privilege, you have a little bit more safety who have the class status um to to talk to your you know folks in your bubbles. The ones who are fucking the homophobes and the able ist pieces of ship that that you know, give us hell. Like they're your uncles, your sitting, you know breaking bread with them at thanksgiving. Like ha let let them know what's good, you know? Because I because that way if they do because I that's funny you had mentioned about the trump supporters because the way it goes, you know, as your pages continue to grow then those are the motherfucker's who are the trolls and they come and they come just to bash your ship.

And like I even had a wave of trolls on my facebook like page who um their whole purpose was to decrease my review doing um like one ratings and putting all these fucked up comments and shift and on facebook you can't delete those at all. You can try to report the pages. But that ship is stuck on your facebook page forever. So I just reached and this was about a year ago and I just reached out to community. I was like, hey, can y'all go and drop some comments, You know, rate it. Um, you know rape my page and ship, can you go comment on these folks comment and stuff? Yeah that did that did keep the trolls from coming because it's like a floodgate open once a few trolls come. It's like they just come out of the woodworks after that. Mm hmm. Yeah, they got a giant group text or some shit anti fan pages exist. That's wild. Right. Right, that is so true. But it is important.

It's important to have these conversations in real time and when the ship happens in the moment like ship. Yeah. So um someone we had on our last episode who I actually coached, she's in the same area with me, her name's dana. She was telling me the story how she checked this cute little last lady at publix and I was just like damn bit I don't know if I had, I would have done that like damn. Like she she checked her, she checked it like it's somebody you know she's in spanish and Colombian so she speaks spanish to her. They bought, you know how you doing, how I'm doing? You know it's it's her public's you know you see the same people and she said some, she went in and the and the little lady said some racist as shit like oh you know these black ladies always coming in here with these coupons? It's so annoying and she was like ma'am ma'am, everybody uses coupons, why do you have to tell me they were black and I'm not racist. I have black friends and I was like oh my God, oh hold on. What's the public's Oh over here, it's a grocery store.

Okay. Oh no. Yeah, she checked an adorable little old lady like that. Takes something like old lady you can get it to you do. Yeah, that that takes a lot uh wow. If anything, I might just give a deep sigh or something like that. I ain't mad if you don't disclose your gender or you know that you do you identify as non binary or any of those things? Do people assume certain things about you? Yeah. I think um for those of us who who kind of intentionally present masculine, it's always the assumption, especially if we have facial hair, that was this man, uh and our proximity to like sis masculinity, we kind of get clumped into this category of a certain privilege that we carry. So that's been difficult for me to navigate. And then it just also removes me from my queerness because um you know, it's a thing like it really is a thing to look androgynous.

Like, androgyny has a look now. Unfortunately, gender in and of itself has a quote unquote look, it shouldn't, but it does. And so if I don't do anything in particular to heighten my quote unquote queerness, um I'm naturally assumed to be not only assist man but a heterosexual assist man because heterosexuality is also assumed very much. Um and so I will usually like honestly to realign with my queerness, I'll usually usually wear a shirt that's super queer or I'll say something and I noticed that tell a problematic, but I just cannot stand being viewed as a cis man, I just can't I really cannot. And but I also want to look masculine because that's where I feel comfortable at. So that's been a real struggle. Yeah, I get it. But I don't get it right because I can see that okay, being the cis heterosexual male, like you're doing everything you can be you can do to not be the standard, but then you are now the standard.

Like that's not where I was going. So I get that part of it. And that's and unfortunately, again, going back to the gender binary, it's very difficult because the natural assumption to see someone who's masculine and this is also uh want to throw this piece in to see people who aren't intentionally presenting masculine. For example, if you have a trans feminine person who still looks masculine by societal standards, has a very, very different visceral experience with anti transmits than I would. Um so, you know, it's it's hard because I think men are trash as a movement. Um this man in particular, this white man. Um a lot of the ship we go through is because of sys white men. And so I just don't want to be aligned with, you know, any type of system masculinity. But you know, it's it's I'm just I'm just stuck, you know, so I just try to do what I can to move through that and unhinge toxic masculinity, which is also ascribed to me solely because of how I look because also, you know, when we move in social justice arenas and folks who are more conscious folks who are in like feminist spaces, it's down with the patriarchy.

Men are trash like a name. And so by default, if you look anything like what assist man would look like therefore you are trash. Therefore you uphold the patriarchy, therefore you are toxic. You know? So I've I've also done a lot of um at workshops shouting out, remove the immediate need to house masculinity in and of itself as toxic and understand that it's it's a lot of layers to that for those of us who are assigned female at birth, who look masculine. For those of us who are trans queer, non binary gender, nonconforming who look masculine. Like you can't just put like this band aid or this general stamp that anything masculine is toxic because I don't inherently I believe masculine is just as masculinity and all energies in between um are just as beautiful. You know that as femininity. And how does that translate to you in the fitness space? Because I could imagine that you presenting as, you know, assist woman, you're gonna hear or you want to lose weight.

So you want to get toned. Oh this is oh by this weight trimmer. But I I could imagine you presenting as a cis man, they're gonna be like bro, you want to get shredded. Is that actually happening to you or you when I was bushed and I still very much identify as a bush and I know that sounds like all over the place, but I resonate with Bush Bush Nous, I haven't had any gender affirming surgeries and I'm probably not saying that all women have breasts and you're a woman if you have breasts, but I very proudly hold my breasts, I love my breasts. Um so folks will see me in the gym before, you know, I transition. You know, I had a very large breasts. I was very strong as a quote unquote cis woman. So I was, you know, lifting the weight stack back in the day and doing all this douche baggy shit. And so of course men were very insistent and were very intimidated because I wasn't that I wasn't the woman, I also also blackness and butch Nous carries very different with, with the way men interact with us, especially black men.

So I never got, hey, let me show you how to do that. I never got to, you know that the the really weird guy coming up behind me doing that sh it I got, oh, I can live with you live, you ain't nobody, you just, you know, I got that whole thing. Um and then when I transitioned I got, wow, you're doing all these weird stretches, men don't stretch that way, wow, Why are you just lifting £5 dumbbells and doing all this mobility, you know what I mean? So it's, it's difficult and then plus I have the facial hair, the breast tissue and it's just like, again, I'm just a gender funk all the way across the board. Um and I can't wait to, I'm more comfortable in my body because I legit will be wearing sports bras with a full goatee in the gym and I dare somebody to say something a lot. It's intense. It's, you know, and I know that's a lot in the south for people to swallow.

Um but again, my body has the right to show up how it needs to show up. And this is also why I don't work out a lot of commercial gems because there's just too much unnecessary attention and again, then safety comes into it. So yeah, and I'm the same, I can't, you know, I'm lucky that I have a gym and people, they don't really give a sh it about what you're doing, but like if I was still stuck in a commercial setting, I probably would've given this up, you know, I do get that. Like, you know, I'm whatever nice curves, you know, I have a nice complexion. Um you know, I'm not too dark, which is great for people, you know, I got curls, I had the good hair, you know, I'm like, it's to the point where if I was going to a commercial gym, I'd be like, no, I can't wear these legs, I'm going to get too much attention, you know, I go to my gym now I take my shirt off, I got some booty shorts on, I'm comfortable. I don't give a ship. But like I'm not going to go into L. A. Fitness like that. Well, I'm hearing too that a lot of gyms are actually putting a dress code. Seriously? Yeah. Yeah. Women or presenting women are not allowed to just walk around in their sports bra.

Yeah. And you know what's so funny when I worked at Planet Fitness, men couldn't wear the muscle tanks that were, he had the like deep cuts on the side. But women could wear booty shorts and sports bra. And a lot of interesting now that they're actually saying that women can't wear sports bras because I didn't even know that was the thing, wow. No, I didn't know either. Yeah. Yeah, I'm hearing it down in L. A. I don't know if it's because it's on or near university campuses, but it's it's even like dress codes at school like because boys will be boys. That's some bullsh it. But that really brings up like again why education on trans masculine health and fitness is so important because you get those people looking at you like why are you doing that as a man? And like paving that way and paving or Opening the gates for somebody that's going through that same shit you went through 10, 15 years ago um is so important.

Thank you. Thank you. And I'm speaking of Trans health care, I think I'll be in your neck of the woods marshes in uh, April three. It's uh in Gainesville University of florida. I think I've been doing a workshop. I'll be doing a workshop down there. So there is a, oh, I don't want to forget. Hold on. Let me see if I pull up their flower. But so the College of Health and Human Performance, I believe is having a transparency, transparency and beyond the binary inclusive fitness workshop. And so they're doing this research and they're really trying to reach out to a lot of fitness certifications to ask why they don't have specifically when it gets into the anatomy and physiology and some of like the clinical assessments that we attached to like exercise and stuff as a trainer. Why they don't specifically highlight like trans folks, anybody outside of man woman.

And so, um, they had their college students like make it like this big class project and they went into a lot of local gyms and gains field and beyond and like did a lot of research. And so I think they started last year and then they kind of just add onto the research each year. So they're bringing me in this year to be like a speaker. But um, folks are, you know, in the fitness arena. I just wanted to lift that up that we're really starting to call account to like these accrediting bodies and these certifications because they're pushing for those who get search because I know you don't have to be a trainer that, you know what I mean? But yeah, but we're still calling this out like, hey, y'all are pushing a lot of these narratives of what mainstream fitness isn't toxic fitness sculpture in and of itself and diet culture. So if you, um, I'll send you the information if you want to come through, maybe we could link up. I don't know how close you are to that area, but um, it's some hours, but send it to me okay.

I'll definitely figure it out. Yeah. Yeah, that's actually happening. Yeah, I was shocked. And um when they hit me up, I was like, oh, wow. I didn't even know folks were doing this work because there's very little research with just the effects of, um, just taking hormones. Just that piece of transitioning. There's very little research on the effects of the body. And so to, to even be doing this work within the fitness arena. I was like, really, really surprised. And if any of our listeners know of anything similar else that's going on, please share it with us. So we could kind of lift it up and share it also because that's pretty awesome. I know when I went to school, we had a bit about, okay, this is what it's like and this is the surgery and this is what they do and you know, it was kind of it. So I mean, I wouldn't I wouldn't say that it was like in depth. It wasn't an exploration as, you know, the binary or anything like that. It was just like, oh, this exists, just so you know, and you know, I didn't think it was that much.

Like it wasn't that deep, but even that by itself is more than what most of these other therapy programs are doing. Like that's not even that's not even a bullet point on any of their power points, right? Yeah, I'm surprised we didn't, we didn't get any of that. None of that ship. And I, you know, I was transitioning in school and hell, I was just doing good just to hang in the program. They were trying to put me out every other day. Yeah. So so then for those that kind of, you know, work in the same field as you, um you know, other personal trainers, other um just people in that same industry, how can other physical therapists, how can they, or we just make fitness a lot more inclusive if they're not putting out the same type of work that you do, How can they start? Well, first educate yourselves? Um you know, I do workshops. I do a workshop called affirming spaces where I literally can come into a gym, I can, you know, talk one on one with the coach, a trainer Petey and you and just kind of give you step by step guys to like be more inclusive and affirming to a diverse group of people and then, you know, secondly listen to your clients, listen to your patients, you know, who are they, what do they want, What are their needs?

And you know, it's your job as a clinician, as a trainer, you know, as any type of therapist in general is to understand, try your best to empathize to come from a trauma informed, do no harm practice and really, you know, provide a safer, possible a physical environment and emotional environment, You know what I mean? A mental health environment for your, for your folks like um, follow people on instagram, you know, teach yourself in that way. At least, you know, get make yourself aware of the language. Um, look, look at your physical space, look at how you even show up online and see how accessible, you know, physically, financially, socially you're making your services. Um, also you can even put on your website, I've told folks to put on your website. Hey, like what ways can I show up in community? I'm, I'm here of service. Don't just stamp that. You're an ally. You know, ask, ask your community, what ways can I do better?

Where am I fuckinup, you know, hold me accountable. Um, those are just some things that I can think off the top. Yeah, I think the biggest part of that is that there's a nice and lengthy list of different things you can do and it's never going to be just one thing. Like you're not just gonna go to one diversity class and like, oh I get it, you're not just going to talk to one person, you know, you're not going to comment on somebody's page. Like, oh, I'm woke now. Like, yeah, you're never, ever, ever just checking off a list. Like am I accessible and my, you know, all these things you got to listen to people's stories. Absolutely. It's very much ongoing. You never stop learning. You never stop trying to do better. Exactly. And just because you are somebody that is on the other side of something, you're disabled or you know, you're black or asian or whatever. It doesn't mean that you even understand all of those different experiences. And then on top of that it doesn't mean that you understand how all those intersections play out. Uh you have no idea like mary beth when we had an episode where we kind of talked about how we grew up and tried to like figure out, you know how that molds us and she was telling us how she used to pretend to be mexican, like she pretended straight up just kicked the, you know, I'm not Filipino, no, I'm mexican just so she could fit in.

Like, you know, I'm black. I'm not white. I would have never gotten that. So I can't even pretend to understand anyone else's experience. I think that's also a part of this process is like number one, like, okay, somebody else has something else going on, I might understand it and that's okay because it's not about me, Right? Right, Right. And yeah, because you're right, because I tell people that all the time, like I can't, you know, I can name intersectionality and I can understand that. Like you, like you mentioned that one margin marginalized identity doesn't mean that you can speak for all folks. And I do my best to try to bring those folks in who have those lived experiences. If you have a platform, try to lift them up, you know, point people in the direction where they can go directly to the people who have these lived experiences. Thank you. That's it for this episode, be ready, Right. I get that. A lot of people like that, that was okay, but it's real, it's your everyday lived experience, you know, that's true.

Well, I got one more question before because I know um where you might be running out of time soon, but I had this recent conversation with and it was a fairly toxic conversation, you know, I work on the Berkeley campus, very Berkeley here in California um you know very left wing uh forward thinking progressive, exactly all these things, a lot of them um white progressive. Um and still trying to grab hold of this new gender pronouns and non binary. And um so when we have those conversations it's always tight, you know, it doesn't have to be, but there are lots of students, lots of staff that these managers are are starting to, you know um get to know who are non binary. And some managers have come to me and said, you know it really it really makes it hard for me that I have to have them them or they and I forget because they're the gender that they're presenting is more male than female, and I'm just like stop talking, stop.

And then they bring up other stories where it's like, oh um my husband, you know, is a is a psychologist and he's got these clients who use the they them pronouns, but they're you know, in a um cis gendered, you know, married um relationship of non trans folks, Why are they allowed to present as they them and not understanding the ally ship, the ally ship behind that. How do you feel about others, quote unquote using that they them pronouns to be more. Oh, that's a good question. Um that kind of reminds me of when heterosexual couples um identifying they call their loved one partner, their wife respect, you know what I mean? And and a lot of people have issues with that. I love the way as a whole that we're querying up language, I think that's just the time period that we're in.

and when you have an evolution of language, you're gonna have people that are gonna put their own meaning to the new words, There's no stamp of what who can use they and them. Um I think it's a, it's just an individual situational type of thing. I by no means I'm ever gonna check nobody on when they choose to use a term. I don't give a funk enough to check nobody honestly, unless they're just really showing up shitty and it's directly affecting someone who is more marginalized in them. Um I do also note that whiteness in and of itself seeks to consume every fucking thing Black brown and indigenous folks create. Uh and and then, but then you add the layer of this particular type of language also coming out of white queer academia. So it's complicated. Um a lot of the ship that I teach comes from the West Coast and so, you know, it's just a way that the west coast kind of moves queerness what, you know, the west coast has always like been pioneers with queerness and when that comes, you know, white ass liberals and progressives kind of taking it and and doing this thing with it.

So it's yeah, it's that's a good ask question, I really don't have no straight answer to it, you know, But I will check a white liberal or progressive in a hot second you do what you do because I show, well they don't, they don't even try that ship around me because they know how I move, especially in person, I'm just I don't like to say I'm so radical because I hate when people do that. I just know I just don't play that ship, you know, I just don't So yeah, do what you need to do. But it would it would kind of have me like you know, so I hope that answers your question. Yeah. No exactly. Thank you. That's that's really important. I didn't even know about the partner thing as a as a as a topic of issue. I didn't know that one real quick. Yeah and real quick with that and this kind of piggybacks off your question um people are trying to be more adjacent to queerness because with the mainstream infiltration of like social justice ship it turns into a trend.

So that's also the other piece with when it comes to like um respecting pronouns and this being the whole thing like everybody and their mama wanna use day of them, everybody and their mama wouldn't have their nails paying black everybody right, right. You know and you know the corporatization of like you know LGBT shit like you know Bank of America and stuff. Having a rainbow and shipped during pride month like all that stuff, you know it's just the way capitalist societies have just infiltrated and then mainstream is infiltrated and thank you. Yeah, no that's why we say a lot like you got to be intentional about your activism, if you can realize that you can turn that pride switch on and off, you can take that rainbow shirt and all of a sudden you are okay to the rest of society. You know, like you know, you can turn off and on like your black sent or your, you're saying words and all that like okay, something's up even though, you know, we got a cold switches, black folks, you know from time to time in the in the working arena and ship just to be respected unfortunately.

But I feel you well yeah, I think we covered a lot of stuff here that well definitely at least educate some people or help them feel like they have the tools to have some conversations they need to have and we would always love to have you back. We could talk forever. There's a lot of talk about anything else to add mary bro. No, I mean you're right, there's lots of ship to talk about. Lots of ship to appeal. You know, even after this conversation, if something comes up, you've got to come right back to us and we'll just vent about it. Uh but definitely like um well definitely no link your affirming spaces e book because that's one very very important and I know you've got some training series online as well as some personal training programs we need to get that stuff out there, But is there is there anything else you want to you know, um inform our listeners that or of resources?

Um I really, I really I'm about to and your podcast is on there. I'm about to put on my Patreon a list of my favorite podcast. Um but I really encourage people to support my Patreon. Uh that helps me sustain this work because I am still a black trans person and resting in the poverty line. And so I'm no longer able to put as much free ship out on instagram. I do what I can to make my stuff accessible because I know people who can't afford to become patreon members need a way to access my stuff and I understand that, but support my Patreon. If you do a patreon search de colonizing fitness, I will pop right up. But yeah, exactly. And by their swag look at the Yeah, thank you for loving it. Alright, let's see your shirts and all these articles too. But I'm just like, yeah, it's all out there. Yeah, thank you.

Thank you. Thank you disabled girls. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who left. We appreciate all of your support and everyone who's taken the time to show us some love. Don't forget to subscribe rate already. Review of our channel. We're on apple podcasts, Spotify player FM google podcasts and more. You can also find us on instagram at disabled girls who left

E16: Decolonizing Fitness w/Ilya Parker
E16: Decolonizing Fitness w/Ilya Parker
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