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Overcoming Gymtimidation | 60-Day Transformation

Meet Ro. Ro is non-binary and has two main fitness goals on their 60-day transformation: to be more comfortable in their body and get stronger physically. Ro has never been totally happy with their body, especially when they were growing up.

Since identifying as non-binary, Ro’s confidence has increased, but there’s still some way to go before they are fully happy. That’s why Ro signed up for “The Time Between”, a 60-day transformation programme tailored to meet participants’ health and fitness goals.

Ro has always had a rollercoaster relationship with diet and exercise. At the beginning of the programme, Ro was also about to start hormone treatment, so it was a better time than any to fix this relationship once and for all, so Ro could feel valid in their body, gender and identity, and use this confidence to fuel their training in the gym.

 

PT consultation pre 60-day transformation

Before starting the journey, Ro sat down with Myprotein PT Keira to discuss their goals for the 60 days and what it is they want to achieve. Ro’s desire was to look more masculine, but also to be stronger and more confident.

To meet these goals while overcoming Ro’s gymtimidation, Keira set out a weight training plan using mostly machines, kettlebells, dumbbells and a few barbell exercises, meaning Ro could avoid the heavier weights section if they wished.

In terms of nutrition, the meal plan had to be vegetarian with no dairy. Ro said they weren’t the most accomplished chef, so Keira kept the recipes simple and uncomplicated. That way Ro would be far more likely to stick to them.

 

Strength test

There are a number of indicators that can be assessed when looking for progress: measurements, progress pictures, weight, and strength. As Ro’s goal was to increase strength, the strength test was the best way to measure this.

Ro was assessed on the number of reps in one minute for the upper and lower-body exercises and then for duration for the core exercises.

Assessed Exercise Day 1 result Day 60 result
Plank 30 seconds 1 minute, 20 seconds
Squats (in a minute) 11 reps 30 reps
Push-ups (in a minute) 13 reps 20 reps

First four weeks

Relatively inexperienced in the gym, Ro was at first anxious stepping into the gym. They were concerned about being judged for their strength and felt they didn’t belong in a non-queer space. However, this didn’t stop Ro. They were consistent in their training programme for the first three weeks.

Ro was experiencing some side effects from the hormone treatment but powered through it. And they had mostly stuck to their meal plan. (Ro’s meal plan included pizza rolls, and while Ro might not think they’re the best chef, they looked pretty tasty to me.)

As the challenge progressed, Ro continued to make progress. They were enjoying their workouts and also pushing themselves to increase their weights and rep ranges. Ro also learned not to feel so guilty going out for the occasional meal.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, and there were obstacles to come. 24 days into the programme, about halfway through, Ro overheard some homophobic comments exchanged between a member of gym staff and a client. Resultingly, Ro and her partner were angry and demotivated. The conversation reinforced for Ro the feeling that the gym is not a place for bodies like hers.

And then, to really compound matters, Ro tested positive for Covid.

 

Four-week catch up

After Ro’s negative experience in the gym, it was understandable they were reluctant to go back. The time off while ill also led to greater anxiety. Ro felt that the gym was no longer a safe space and they weren’t welcome. All the hard work Ro had put into building confidence had been knocked, and they needed to build it back up again. This meant reclaiming the gym as a safe space.

And despite the negative experience, the journey as a whole had been relatively positive. Ro was sharing their journey with their partner and gym buddy, they got to eat a lot more than they ever thought they could on a meal plan, and overall the whole experience had been extremely gender affirming.

 

Final four weeks

Despite testing negative, Ro hadn’t quite returned to their usual self. They were breathless and the feelings of fatigue stuck around for a while after. They were also out of routine and feeling less motivated to hit the gym.

 

Final assessment

And eight weeks later Ro was back at the Myprotein HQ for the final check-in. They underwent the same strength tests to monitor how much progress they had made, and the results spoke for themselves.

Assessed exercise Day 1 result Day 60 result
Plank 30 seconds 1 minute, 22 seconds
Squats (in a minute) 11 reps 30 reps
Push ups (in a minute) 13 reps 20 reps

In terms of other physical changes, Ro noticed their posture had improved — partly due to an increase in confidence — and they were beginning to see greater muscle definition.

But the journey had more than physical effects for Ro. It also allowed them to feel mentally strong. They’re beginning to feel at home in themselves, rather than beating themself up for just “having a body”. They also feel much stronger in terms of their gender identity.

But Ro’s 60-day transformation also highlighted something very important, a negative side of fitness spaces that many of us don’t see. Words and actions can have consequences — especially in places that aren’t traditionally safe spaces for queer and underrepresented people — so it’s important to make people feel as welcome as possible. The gym should be for everybody.

 

Take home message

Ro’s journey wasn’t without setbacks, but they dealt with it well and the end result was pretty inspiring. Not only did Ro reach their goal, but they achieved more than they thought that they would, realising health and fitness isn’t just about being “smaller”, it’s about finding what works for you and going with it.

Check out more ‘The Time Between’ transformations over on the Myprotein YouTube channel.

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Emily Wilcock

Emily Wilcock

Writer and expert

Emily is studying Business Management & Marketing at the University of Birmingham and is currently on her intern year. She has a keen interest in both writing and fitness, so is happy she can now combine the two. She likes to spend time with her friends, both in & out of the gym.