Background: A little over 3 years ago, I moved to Paris to discover the ‘City of Lights’. Most of my life I’ve been a passionate athlete and runner (sub-3:00 marathoner). While working as a songwriter and artist in New York, I was also a running coach, where my greatest passion became clear: connecting authentically and inspiring others. No Bubblegum is born from this desire to meaningfully connect. The letter below represents my point of view as an empowered New Yorker and newbie ‘Parisienne’.
I’d barely been in Paris a week when I walked past a gym that featured in its storefront a poster of a woman with a tape measure around her waist. At the time, I was shocked that this that kind of advertising still exists, and that it could be embraced by a modern city like Paris. Granted, I moved here from the ‘bubble’ of New York, where the ‘fit’ look is currently deemed more attractive than the ‘waif’ look. (I realize this is debatable and a long conversation, and that many people work out with the primary goal of losing weight; however, displaying a woman with a tape measure fastened around her waist seems frighteningly wrong in 2015 (or 2012, when I moved here).
Before I continue, let me share that I’m absolutely in love with Paris. I’m intoxicated by her beauty and charm, have made wonderful friends here, and am blessed to call Paris home. It still feels dreamlike to run along the Seine, by Place de la Concorde, or in the hills of Buttes-Chaumont. However, the Paris fitness scene is in dire need of a lift. Thankfully, ‘petit a petit’, it’s beginning to happen. At No Bubblegum, we are dedicated and committed to being a leader in this movement and to encouraging self-improvement, mindfulness and living a positive and kickass life.
Here’s another example: a popular class at my local gym in central Paris is called ‘Body Minceur’. In my opinion, this name simply shouldn’t exist. ‘Minceur’ means ‘thin’ in French, so the class name basically translates to something like, ‘Make Your Body Thinner’. (Ironically, the class is led by one the gym’s most motivating instructors and is fantastic, despite the horrific name.) While working to launch a fitness business in Paris over the last few years, I’ve also come across some ‘successful’ trainers who continue to promote this dated and ridiculous approach to what they call ‘fitness’. Seeing female coaches in their 20’s and 30’s who are focused almost exclusively on vanity and promoting their dreams of ‘pseudo-stardom’, rather than authentically communicating and connecting, is just sad.
I believe decision-makers at sports facilities, fitness coaches and wellness bloggers have a responsibility to reject the notion of body-hatred, and to promote and inspire self-love, a passion for fitness, and all the awesomeness that comes with living a positive, empowered and healthy lifestyle.
We can, we should, we need and we must do better.