By Sara Alderfer
I’ve asked permission to share this story from some but not all of those involved. If you are a part of the story and are getting nervous, let me assure you no names or pictures are included.
Last week I led my favorite class of all time. I wasn’t expecting to love “Cellulite Challenge,” not least because helping people get smokin’ hot bods isn’t why I’ve devoted my career to fitness.
But here’s the thing. “Cellulite Challenge” was really my stealth way of getting more people excited about the MELT Method, which I absolutely love. MELT techniques were designed to relieve chronic pain, stiffness, and injury, but rehydrating connective tissue can also smooth out cellulite. I know that many folks struggle mightily with body image, so why not use MELT to ease those emotional aches and pains, too?
Lots of people signed up for the four-week challenge because lots of people have cellulite and feel crappy about it. In fact, in the twenty-something years I’ve been a personal trainer, I have seen people of all sizes, shapes, and fitness levels with cellulite.
I have my own cellulite, too, and for a long time, I secretly was ashamed of it. As a fitness professional I shouldn’t have cellulite, right? That shame faded over time, but I still don’t go around flaunting those stretches of imperfect skin. It would somehow reflect badly on me, wouldn’t it?
Now Take a Picture of Your Butt
Then came the first “Cellulite Challenge” class… and the photos. Before I started teaching the techniques, everyone needed to get a “before” photo of their cellulite to compare with the “after” photos we’d take at the end of the course. Right away I knew that if some participants had known about this step, they wouldn’t have shown up at all. The shame runs deep.
One friend in the class knew about the photos and had described her cellulite like some kind of horror flick–Terror of the Lumpy Hind Legs. She said only her husband or mother could snap the dreaded picture, or maybe she’d let me do it. I’ll be honest: I was nervous. What if her body was truly so disgusting I made a shocked face, or worse, said something that made her feel even more terrible about herself? I mean, maybe there was a good reason she hadn’t worn shorts in a million years.
O, Beautiful Moon!
I should have known better. My gorgeous, strong running buddy has impressive muscles capable of anything. And the cellulite that’s suffocated her self-confidence all these years? It was really no big deal, especially after the build-up.
As I tried to convince her of the truth of her incredible body, similar conversations were happening all over the studio. Participants bravely bared what they usually kept deeply hidden–and got only support and encouragement in return. Their belief in their own ugliness couldn’t stand up to the light of loving reality.
In that moment, I fell in love with the “Cellulite Challenge.” When I looked around the room and took in what was happening, I understood that I too had taken an unexpected step toward wellness. Toward wholeness. I got a little closer to the self-acceptance that brings with it peace and joy, and I got to do it with a bunch of amazing people.
We took selfies of our cellulite. We laughed at ourselves. We encouraged each other and we worked on putting it all into perspective. Then we did some awesome MELT.
If, in the end, our “after” photos look better than the “befores,” great! But if they don’t, I’m okay with that. And I hope everyone else is, too.