Good morning, Friends! Call it a comeback. I haven’t been here for months. Consider this a gritty reboot (sarcasm intended) of Jet Noir Weekly. Thank you for your patience. Going forward, blogs will be posted on the 7s of the month. They will be no longer than 750 words. (I stopped writing for a while because I was convinced that no one reads anymore. People only forward/share blogs to prove/argue a point.) Many of the posts will be old blogs re-imagined until I can get back into the habit of writing fresh material. I once wrote a blog about how “everyone has their January” as in everyone starts somewhere. January in the fitness industry is overflowing with newbies. I chose to write a piece reminding the experienced people to be kind to the inexperienced and to help them out. You know, because they were once newbies and needed help. As I reimagine that message, I want to write this reminder to everyone that judgment of another person is toxic behavior. It’s human nature to be critical of the traits we see in others that we dislike about ourselves. So, while we are our own toughest critics, we tend to criticize others based on our own self-doubt. This is why body shaming has little to do with the recipient. The person that talks the shit sees the shit when they look in the mirror. The same can be said for abilities. Laughing at someone for their inability to do a push-up? There’s a good chance that your push-up form is shit. (There’s also a chance that you’re just an asshole.)
Here’s what I propose, the next time you catch yourself critiquing someone’s ability, question your right to criticize. Are you flawless in that maneuver? If not, shut it down! If yes, then perhaps you could offer some help. Unsolicited advice is a dangerous thing to offer because you may receive an adverse response. However, if you approach with kindness, humility, and await excited consent to deliver the advice, you may just help someone out and create the foundation of a friendship.
There’s a trend I’ve noticed among women who have suffered through partners/lovers that were inept kissers. I hear the complaints about the bad kisser and I ask, “Did you tell them?” Often, the response is something of the “it’s not my job to teach them how to kiss” variety. Well, whose job is it? What if it wasn’t a job/chore/task of yours? Instead, what if it was as simple as you being empowered to ask for what you wanted? Society (I’m including myself in that group) has done a stellar job of socializing women to not ask for what they want. It may be due to the fear of male fragility and a violent response. It may be because of years of being talked over by people in positions of privilege. It can be a number of things. But, what would kisses feel like if you (anyone, not just women) asked for what you wanted? Let’s help each other out.
I love baseball. When I was in high school, there were Baseball tryouts. I went to the coach, before the tryouts, and asked him, “what if I’m not sure if I can play, I’ve never played.” He just laughed at me and walked away. I never went to those tryouts. Not because I was afraid, because I didn’t want him as my coach. In a lot of environments (not just fitness), there will be a lot of people trying out for the team. Many of them are not sure what to do or how to play. Imagine a world wherein we all made an effort to express compassion and patience with those who needed help. Who knows, we might find an all-star in the crowd. As a fitness coach, I’ll never laugh at someone that wants to try out. I’m happy to support the person working hardest to bring up the rear. Let’s all agree to help each other out.
This was originally posted on 02/11/2013. But, I’m still in the Dominican Republic without Internet access, so please give this a fresh read until I have some new material for you.
Have you ever had the “naked at school” dream? Have you ever felt insecure about how you looked when leaving the house? We all have insecurities. We’ve been programmed (read: socialized) that way. All of this talk about insecurity is making me question things. What do you love about your (physical) self? I mean, just for a minute, one vain minute, look in the mirror and celebrate what you love about your reflection. Often, in class, when you hear me attempting to deflect self-doubt, I’m refuting use of the word ‘can’t’. But, we all know that self-doubt comes in many forms. Body image insecurities have kept people from joining gyms due to their fear of being judged by others. Let’s just clear the air. Everyone judges. It’s a part of human survival instinct to see someone/something and judge if it is a threat. In this modern age of stereotypes and conditioning, our judgments have taken an ugly turn. We all judge as we all are judged. The sooner we accept that concept, the sooner we’ll be comfortable in our own skin and just say, “fuck it, I don’t care what people think!” My challenge to you, this week, is to celebrate your soul as well as your physical vessel. Encourage your friends to do the same. We all have different levels of insecurities, some may need more of a boost than others. Before you begin any fitness program, a positive foundation built on what you love about your body, will take you much further than any sort of “I hate [fill in the blank] about my body” workout program.
I was recently featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. The conversation was about men posing for boudoir photographs. When asked my opinion on why so many men are apprehensive about being nude in front of a camera, I spoke about people’s (men’s) fear of exposure. Naked, on a wall, in a gallery ripe for the judgment of the public. That sounds like a 3-D version of the naked at school dream! No matter how you gender-identify, does the thought scare you? Don’t let it. We are all judged and we all judge. Be comfortable in your own beautiful skin and never let anyone convince you that a fit lifestyle is a bad thing. I can’t speak for others. But, I love my life and I want to feel good as long as I live it. Let’s not workout because of some false “fountain of youth” promise, let’s not workout because of something about our bodies that we “hate”, let’s not do this for reasons of vanity. Let’s do this because we want energy for the entire day without energy drinks. Let’s do this because our bodies were never meant to be sedentary. Let’s do this because society should never dictate our leisure activities. Let’s do this because insecurities should never be the driving force in our life. Let’s stop talking about this and… Giddyup! Make it a great day!
In the modern lexicon, words tend to change meaning all of the time. Societal stigma also changes and because of that, we hear more “this is the new that” statements everyday. Forty is the new thirty! Forty years on earth is still forty years. Society has just decided that it will place less judgment on 40 year-old humans. “I thought by the time I reached 40 I would have [fill in the blank with whatever cultural influences lead one to believe about their 40th year].” Cheer up, Friend! Forty is the new thirty!
Strong is the new sexy! That statement, in and of itself, is a sexist form of motivation. I’ve heard women say it, I’ve read it on magazine covers, and I’ve seen it on T-shirts. I find “strong is the new sexy” to be sexist. The phrase is packed with thinly veiled objectification.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I write that women are often viewed as property. To be clear, I am not in agreement with this mentality. However, as a cisgender male, raised by cisgender males, the misguided thought has been passed down to me. I challenge myself daily to think against my indoctrination. When someone is dehumanized into an object to be attained, the selection process resembles that of a Farmer’s Market fruit selection. Do you want her firm or soft, long or short? Either way, look past all human emotions and just see her body as an object to be obtained. As men, that’s how we’re socialized to think of women. That mentality generates scrutiny that women face regarding their appearance and it’s a never ending shit storm of annoyance. No, I’ve never been a woman. I’ve never experienced such scrutiny first hand. But, 90% of my friends are women and I hear the stories that drop my jaw in disbelief. The scrutiny happens with the elevator eyes and the long distance decision by the pursuer as to whom they will “spit game.”
“Forget about game, I’mma spit the truth! Won’t stop ’til I get ’em in they birthday suit!” -Ludacris
When a woman’s strength (read: muscular definition; not to be confused with her mental fortitude) starts being labeled as a determination of her worth (again viewing her as property) then society starts saying, “Strong is the new sexy.” I’ve been a Personal Trainer for over a decade and in all of that time, women still make the same request to me when we begin working together. “I don’t want to get too muscle-y!”, they say. I find it difficult not to roll my eyes when I hear this, for two reasons. 1.) Women, generally, have less testosterone and will not gain muscle as fast as men. 2.) So, what if they did gain muscular definition? Why would that be a bad thing? Throughout history, weak men have been threatened by the (mental or physical) strength of women. When you think of the term “ladylike”, what image pops up for you? She’s not muscular, is she? When you think of the term “butch”, what image pops up for you? Women have been socialized to look/act like ladies. It’s because of that socialization that some women apologize about their bodies.
I went to look at a friend’s tattoo on her leg and she said, “sorry, I haven’t shaved my legs.” When I asked why she was apologizing to me, she replied, “some people are weird about bodies.” I said, “Yeah, but it’s YOUR body. It’s not my place to have an opinion on it.”
Back to my point on socialization. Women have been socialized to not appear (physically) strong. Instead, they’ve been conditioned to be sex objects. Now that more women are working out with weights*, there are more women that are accepting their muscular definition. I applaud that acceptance. I think it takes a dark turn when the acceptance of a strong physical form must be diminished into “sexy”. The definition of sexy belongs to the owner of the strut. Culture should not define it. “The eye of the beholder” should not define it. Women should be able to look however TF they want without apologizing for hairy legs or objectifying their muscular definition as “sexy.”
I spoke with my friend, V, on the matter and here’s what she had to say when I asked her, “What are your thoughts on the phrase, strong is the new sexy!?”:
“…this phrase is simply jam-packed with interesting undertones. It always raises so many questions in me when I hear it. For instance, was strong not sexy before? Who is making this proclamation? How does one define “strong”? Are we now excluding other characteristics that used to be considered sexy in the past and replacing them with this image of “strength” instead? If I don’t look strong because of the particular characteristics of my physique, then am I not sexy? On a personal note, I live with a chronic disease and pain, which limits my capacity for many kinds of physical activity, and my muscles are smaller and relatively weaker because of this…so, am I not sexy? Often, when I hear this, it rings a similar bell as “Real women…” and “Real men…” Because, for the same reason that all people are real and you can’t define “woman” or “man” in a single, restrictive, exclusionary statement, neither can you define “sexy” in just one way. There is no definitive The Sexy- new or otherwise. So if a statement like this must be made, then I much prefer, “Strong is sexy.” Because it doesn’t preclude or exclude other ways of being sexy. I tend to struggle with phrases that attempt to raise up one physical ideal by knocking another one down- overtly or implicitly. Because to do so feels like an attempt to invalidate other ways of being and put a box around an experience that ought not be bounded.” -V
The next time you read, “Strong Is The New Sexy”, just repeat after me.
I don’t need anyone else to define my brand of sexy.
I don’t need anyone else to define my brand of sexy.
See you next week, Friends!
*-If you’re beginning a fitness program, study the overload principle. Lifting tiny weights for fear of gaining too much muscle mass is not going to make you stronger.
Greetings! Last week, I promised part two of the seven part series on how I keep my energy levels up. That will show up next week. First, something significant happened on Monday and I needed to write about it before my trip this weekend. I wanted to write about a problem shared by most trainers and most gym members. A problem that many of them share is their attitude towards appearance. In their desire to make good soldiers, the US Government has been suggesting that we move our bodies and stay active for at least 20 minutes a day since the 1940s. It wasn’t until a capitalist figured out a way to monetize this suggestion by opening a gym that the current culture of fitness was born. [An early public gymnasium started in Paris in 1847. However, the history of health clubs for the general public can be traced back to Santa Monica, California in 1947.] They’ve been called fitness clubs, health clubs, gyms, etc. [IWM… “Fitness” and “Health” are not interchangeable words. One can be fit with high cholesterol. One can be healthy and unable to do basic exercises.]
During this week’s post, I’ll be using words like “obese”, “fat”, and “overweight” (these words are not interchangeable either.) These words have very different meanings and I’ll try to respect those meanings in the context of my message. I’m mentioning the use of these words in case they may be a trigger for any of you reading this post. I understand that many people have experienced trauma with these words being used as weapons from parents and peers.
Trainers and Fitness Professionals, when a new client shows up for their first session and complains of knee pain, listen to their request and make sure they feel heard. Please don’t overlook their pain and see that person as overweight. Further, don’t look at their body fat as a problem that is your duty to fix. That client came to you to get stronger and live a pain-free life. “Well, if they lost some weight, their knee wouldn’t hurt so much. Bones weren’t meant to carry that much weight!” While there may be some validity to that statement, the client came to you with a knee problem, they didn’t ask you to fix their weight. Let them be fat and encourage them that they’re fine with the body they have. Find ways to help them love a fit lifestyle. Find ways that they enjoy moving their body. (Just because you like Burpees doesn’t mean they will/should.) If you can show them exercises to strengthen the muscles around their knees to relieve pain, teach them how to maintain good posture, and build core strength while connecting with the human in front of you, they won’t be seen as a fat problem that needs to be fixed. Leave the Savior complex in your locker and train with compassion.
Fitness clubs, Health clubs, Gyms, and other such places, what if your business model was NOT based on ridding the world of obesity? What if you did NOT encourage people to workout just to lose weight? What if you encouraged people to play because it improved quality of life? [Encouraging all bodies to play is why I’m a fan of the Athletic Playground in Emeryville.] What if there were no scales or body fat calipers in the entire building? In this Netflix and Chill society, I’d love to see a gym that D(idn’t)GAF about any body’s weight. I only care that you move your body and have fun doing so. A former gym regular sent me a flyer for a new gym opening here in the Bay Area. She was suggesting that I apply to work there, so I went to their website to see what they’re all about. I found the following on their About Us page: “A heart pumping, calorie burning full-body workout layering intense plyometric movements with strengthening isometric holds to build lean muscle and sweat away excess fluff.” Sweat away excess fluff!? WTF!? Are they marketing to humans or cappuccinos!? With that statement as part of their manifesto, I decided that I didn’t want to find out more about this place. I don’t want to train people in the name of de-fluffing them. I’m proud to say that I work in a gym that focuses more on movement than fat burn. We’ve never held any contest to see who can lose the most body weight or reduce the most body fat percentage in an arbitrary time period. We’re not perfect. But, in general, our approach is about creating a lifestyle around fitness and physicality for all bodies. (This post isn’t a Valentine to my employer, so you can do your own digging to find the name of my gym.)
“Do you know the best way to lose six pounds in 3 weeks?” That question was asked of me by a 13 year-old figure skater! I wish I were making this up. I was astounded! I knew that any answer could create a trajectory for the rest of her life, but I was also so caught off guard by such a question from such a lean and muscular young woman that I fumbled the answer. I told her that it was a big question and I encouraged her to seek out scientific approaches and to avoid any diets. (My hope was that she would not find any scientific approach to weight loss for someone with such a low body fat percentage.) I went home and drank some whiskey that night. I seriously considered quitting my job and hanging up my coach’s whistle indefinitely. I was reminded a few days later, as I told the story to the club owner, that such an occurrence was precisely why I shouldn’t quit, people like that need coaches that will point them in the right direction. Even days later, I don’t know if I could ever be ready for such a question. She’s 13 fucking years old!
“My boyfriend said he wouldn’t marry me unless I lost weight.” Those were the words of a victim of societal conditioning. She relayed the message through a friend and wanted to hire me as her trainer. I refused. Someone will take her money. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I did. I cared more about whether or not she was able to see the life of abuse she was about to embrace. That was about two years ago. I don’t know whatever happened with her, but I hope that she woke up and left that person for a life of self-love and a partner that likes her just the way she is today.
Once and Future Clients, please cancel your magazine subscriptions. Please be honest with your parents and tell them that their lack of acceptance (as they criticized your weight and food choices) hurt you. Please find and nurture a supportive group of friends that accept and celebrate your body just the way it is and above all else… Love yourself before you begin any fitness program. An exercise that I give to most of my clients is to stand naked in the mirror, armed with a dry erase marker. Write (a minimum of) ten things you love about your body on that mirror. Use that self-love to fuel your motivation to improve your quality of life. “But, Jet, if I love my body, I won’t want to workout and change it.” Right, you won’t want to change it, the hope is that you’ll be motivated to make it stronger and more capable. To put it bluntly, *presses caps loCK* DON’T WORKOUT TO LOSE WEIGHT! Exercise to improve your quality of life. Improve your blood volume and blood flow, decrease aches and pains, improve balance and reduce fall hazards, increase bone density, improve mental acuity, and just be ready for life. Losing weight should not be your only goal for embracing a fit lifestyle. Think long-term as in LIFE style, not just about the wedding dress. “Jet, please! My Gram-gram lived until she was 97 and she was still walking and talking shit! She was strong and she didn’t exercise!” Well, I bet she didn’t sit at a desk and fuck around on Tumblr all day when she was in her 20s, either. The point that I hope you takeaway from this post is that fat is not a problem to be fixed. No one gives a fuck if you’re fat or fluffy or whatever TF pop culture is calling it these days. No one can body shame you without both your permission and acceptance of such shame. I’m grateful for being teased and bullied as a child. By my peers (read: black people) I was told that I was too dark, my nose was too big, and blah blah blah. What was I to do? My own friends, my own “people” ridiculed me for the way I looked. I made no efforts, nor had any desire to lighten my skin or change my nose. I adopted a simple manifesto for friendship. “Either they’re in my corner or fuck ’em!” I will always be comfortable in my own skin. I will always love myself, despite the fact that I’ll never meet the societal standard of beauty.
For the people in your world that don’t accept you, for the magazines, or gyms that are over concerned with your fluff when you’re trying to make strength gains and move beyond pain, fuck ’em. For all of the significant others that have ever told their partner to lose weight… Fuck you! For all of the coaches that have told 13 year-old girls to lose weight… Fuck you! For all sports/activities (looking at Ballet and Football with equal ire) that condition children to have anxiety-ridden relationships with food (so that they may lose or gain weight to make the cut)… Fuck you!
Why do I sound so angry? Wouldn’t you be? I became a trainer 11 years ago, because I wanted to help people move their bodies efficiently. I want to help people get stronger while staying injury-free. I DGAF about anyone getting a six pack and I think that’s a dumb goal to have. I just want people to have a better life through fitness and healthier habits. But, all I get are men that want to gain weight and get “swole” and women that want to lose weight because society has convinced them that something is wrong with their bodies. Yes, I’m angry. Yes, this is a problem with my industry. We (fitness professionals) can fix this problem as soon as we stop trying to fix people. Let’s help the people. Let’s teach the people how to workout instead of just taking them through a workout. Let’s explain the benefits of those compound movements. Let’s coach the humans instead of training the dollar signs.
Happy New Year! I’ve been in the lab plotting and planning some changes for 2016. I’m not talking about macro-level changes that will redefine who I am or how I identify. Instead, I’m talking about micro-level changes that will raise a few eyebrows and maybe perk up a few nipples. I’ve experienced a spectacular 2015 and I look forward to upward mobility in a fantastic 2016!
It’s worth mentioning… Please be sure to shut down any of those people, including yourself, that (every year) talk shit about old year while claiming that new year will be, inexplicably, better. People who go through this annual lament never reflect on the fact that they said the same damned thing last year. They just can’t have it both ways. If you consistently reflect on your year in review to remember the cat shit and piss-soaked litter, you’ll overlook the pussy snuggles. Is Pussy Snuggles a band name? It should be. I’d buy tickets.
At any rate, check out this good shit! Here are some announcements for your socks and the blowing off of them.
School I’m (sort of) done with school. On Monday, December 7th, 2015, I turned in my last final for any class at Cal State University. I have completed all requirements for a BS in Kinesiology! I’m finally (sort of) done with school. Some of you know that I moved up here (to the Bay Area) with a three phase plan to change my life situation. Phase 1: Complete my tenure in the restaurant industry, pay off debt, save money, and retire from that industry. Estimated completion time: Three years (2010-2013). Actual time: Two years (2010-2012) because I hated my little shit of a GM and the company was dicking me around and showing no appreciation for my hard work. I quit, threw myself a retirement party (to drive home the point that I’m never returning to that industry), and I haven’t looked back. Phase 2: Earn my BS Kinesiology from Cal State East Bay. Estimated completion time: Two years (2013-2015). Actual time: Three years (2012-2015) because the Cal State system makes students take classes that have nothing to do with their degree program because, reasons. I’m not bitter. 😉 Phase 3: Earn my DPT (Doctorate Physical Therapy). That phase has since changed to MOT (Masters Occupational Therapy). Estimated completion time: two-three years (2015-2017/2018). Actual start time won’t be until 2017 because I still have to take some pre-reqs before applying (thanks again, Cal State) and the application period is in the Fall for the following Fall. With all of that said, I’m moving on to the next phase of school. But, I have finished one giant leap (that is a band name).
Online-liness The hub of my other websites (JetNoirMuse.com) has had a few aesthetic changes, music addition, and link updates. The blog (as I’m sure you’ve noticed) has changed its title to JetNoirWeekly.com Why? This way, it’s easier for people to remember and visit. Since purchasing that domain, I’ve had a lot more visitors! No need to change any of your bookmarks or RSS feed subscriptions. You’ll still get it just the way you like it, hot, deep, and just after midnight! So, take a look at the new layout with some cool links on the left. Be sure to tell your friends. Do you know why Germany is 2nd on the list of page views for JNW behind America? My friend has been forwarding my blog to his friends in Munich! Keep sending those links out to increase readership. Some of you have asked me about writing a book. I’d be open to that. But, first let’s get some more followers to get the publishers interested. 😉
Posting Self-Love BodyFaming.com has received a new submission bringing the project to a total of three! Will someone please send this website to Oprah so that she can help promote!? In the meanwhile, #BodyFaming will be getting a promotional boost from the front page of EastBayExpress.com Keep an eye out for that and please continue to spread the word about this project designed to change the conversations on body shaming. Let’s be proud of our physical vessel, despite societal standards.
Anti-Social Media I’ve (sort of) returned to Social Media. Let me start by saying, “Fuck, Facebook!” I still stand by that statement. For any Burlesque performer that has been kicked off of FB due to their real names policy, remember, they don’t want us there. Anything burlesque-ish with a bra on will be flagged as #porn and FB will take it down. However, “fitness models” can wear wet t-shirts and show penis pubes without such flags! WTF? Fuck those guys. Instead, I’ve returned to Twitter due to a class assignment. I kept it going when I remembered that there’s no moral policing on Twitter. My friends that work in the adult industry post all of their NSFW pics. I can post all of my nudes without worry of getting flagged. You can follow me @JetNoirMuse
Put This On Do you want my Jism* all over your chest? (*Jism is a Jet-ism, obviously, you pervs!) Check out JetNoir.Spreadshirt.com for shirts with my quotable Jet-isms (Jisms) imprinted on the front! “What’s the best that could happen?” Click on the link above (or on one of the aforementioned sites) to find out.
I look forward to growing this year (in many senses of the word) and meeting your friends, if only, virtually.