Fitness instructor explains why we shouldn’t fear the word ‘exercise’

Thanks to the toxic internet culture that’s impossible to avoid nowadays, exercise has become more of a punishment than an enjoyable activity. Society has taught people to equate exercise with worth, to the point that some people will directly measure their merit in how many minutes or hours they spend at the gym on any given day.

However, exercising isn’t meant to be a stressful, anxiety-inducing endeavor, and one personal trainer is on a mission to dispel the myths surrounding physical activity.

Fitness professional Raneir Pollard, a self-proclaimed “sweat king,” is using his various social media platforms to help people redefine and reexamine the word “exercise.” Though Pollard works in the fitness world, he believes that exercise encompasses far more than traditional workouts and strength classes.

“I consider exercise and movement to be one in the same,” Pollard told In The Know. “I see them as a spectrum — movement, light movement, light exercise, all the way to heavy movement, heavy exercise … We are looking to engage in movement practices that are gonna allow us to live longer, fuller lives … It’s about, just like everything else in this life, finding a nice balance, but definitely acknowledging that proper movement practices are for you.”

On TikTok, where he has more than 32,000 followers, Pollard posts motivational videos encouraging his followers to adjust their mindset surrounding the idea of exercise. In one of his most popular videos, he tackles the common notion that exercise and movement are two different things, explaining that “all movement is exercise.”

“Unfortunately so many people have a negative association with the word ‘exercise’ because we live in a world that likes to shame folks into workouts,” he explains in the TikTok. “I’m here to undo that harm!”

As a trainer and instructor, Pollard spends a lot of time around all different types of clients. But while some take his classes and enlist his help because they truly enjoy being active or want to be fit and flexible well into their geriatric years, others work out simply because they think they need to. This is the attitude he’s trying to change.

“The one thing I wish people would stop associating with fitness is shame,” Pollard said. “I know that some people find it to be a positive motivator [but even] if that is for you, I still recommend trying to go the route of love with this because at the end of the day, your habits will beget your habits. When you start to go down the road of shame, it’s so hard when other things in life are beating you down and you did have to skip that workout, how much that’s going to negatively impact your mindset.”

Of course, it’s hard to completely change the way you think about exercise when you’ve been conditioned to believe that you’re only as valuable as the number of hours you spend at the gym. The first step, Pollard says, is acknowledging changes need to be made.

“The first step is to realize and I’m glad that there’s a movement of people realizing that they’ve been taken advantage of as far as what their definition is and what’s held them back from getting in touch with their own body and getting in touch with their own movement practices,” he said. “Exercise is movement. Movement is love. Get into the love.”

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