Part 1 – HighLow!
It’s Alex Xand, and you, my friend, have just begun reading yet another fitness blog. Yeah I know right, yoga mum, fitness capitalism ahoy captain!
Not this blog, and honestly if 16 year old, dysphoric, self critical me could see this they would probably be really confused and wonder how I got here, so let me do exactly that. Before I go on, my back story has content warnings for bullying, eating disorders, heaps of body shame, sexual assault and as I mentioned, dysphoria. They will come up from time to time, and like I said, this might not be your run of the mill introduction, or maybe it’s exactly that?
I don’t know, I don’t read fitness blogs.
I met Bowie and Zay at a Transgender, Gender Diverse gathering of minds in Melbourne in early 2019. The purpose was to assess where we were at as a community, and somehow quantify this qualitative, emotional content in order to support our community and create real systematic structures of support. How better to bond community than with an exchange? (I’m skipping ahead, but we’ll revisit this.)
I had been resisting gym culture my whole life, a family of gym instructors, body builders and gym owners and being socialized male really has a mood to it. Resisting patriarchal expectations, and the projection of “maleness” is a pretty much full time operation. I’ve always been very slender for my height, and because of this people have made assumptions about my capability, strength, and relationship to food in some pretty crass, awful ways.
Over a long time I learned to embrace my soft features, creativity, and sharp tongue, becoming extremely political, shedding binary expectations and theming the theys I was always they’d to them. I create movement and static art (self taught), enjoy dance (also self taught) and love a good all night rave, though my conversation with food and my body still needs some attention.
This year has been hard, after being raped a lot changed for me internally. In response I decided I needed to formalize my strength. Great idea; but how do I do that after developing massive trust issues, difficulty leaving home, and anxiety about any space with men in them?
A severe blow to my identity/self confidence on many levels, I want to ensure that someone who understands the queer experience guides me – being a part of a gym was never an option and would have exposed me to a particularly acute level of hetero-patriarchal fuckery that I do not have the will to navigate, like ever. Ever. Eve-seriously fuck gyms.
I thought of Bowie again, and since I don’t operate with a large income, we came to the arrangement of trading fortnightly blog posts like this one for weekly training, accountability, support, and structure! Training is important for me being able to feel like I can get to know my body again, and give it the credit it deserves in getting me this far. Violence is not strength.
Training is part of my transition; embodying strength, dedication to self, effective movement, and cultivating an ongoing relationship with my body does not have an aesthetic or form.
I want this training to bolster my dance and movement work, supporting my creativity. Cultivating an ethos of self-awareness, belief, and mental strength to be a reminder of how far I have come already.
Strength is not how much I can lift, strength to me is in seeing a challenge, taking a deep breath, and knowing I will overcome – Especially when that challenge is patriarchal, capitalist, or institutional – Though less vaguely, navigating spaces of grief, trauma, and transition are as important.
All this begins today, in a park, being serenaded by a man playing bagpipes.
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