I had the pleasure of speaking with low impact queen, Nikki Pebbles, and, I cannot emphasize this enough, she is incredible. We had an in-depth conversation about all things body-image and I'm so excited to share all the things I've learned.
From 10 years in the fitness industry to a bachelor's degree in psychology on the way to receiving a master's in industrial psychology with an emphasis on body image and its effects in the workplace, Nikkie has got your back.
Nikki has had her own battles with body image and mental illness, yet, today, she emphasizes body-respect because some days we don't love our bodies and that's OK, but baseline respect should be present 24/7.
Nikki has struggled with hormonal issues and whether it be a size 0 or 16, she has had a different body experience. There was even a point in her career where she wanted to give up because a gym informed her that they couldn't hire her because clients would think she is too chubby. That's unacceptable. And as anyone would be, Nikki was devasted. However, every time Nikki tried to quit, her core belief that her body is powerful no matter is what brought her back.
She stands by the fact that "anyone can teach a fitness class at a size 2, 12, 16, it doesn't matter." Your size doesn't take away from one's knowledge and the reality is, bodies change and fluctuate – that's called life.
Fitness is not about changing your body. Instead, it's about feeling empowered in your body right this second, feeling the psychological changes that come with this newfound self-esteem, and being driven by increased function.
Nikki stands by function. Since she has a psychology background, she highlights the psyche behind who we are, how powerful we are, and our intentions. Even when it comes to working out, do it because you want to function more efficiently. Are you going to the gym and for the sake of losing weight to become happier, more successful, find a partner, etc.? Because — news flash — your body has nothing to do with these aspects of life. You and the badassness you already have is what drives you to accomplish things.
On a related note, the facts are, your size, weight, appearance have nothing to do with your health. Nikki explained that when she was a size two she was eating carrots and hummus and was working out multiple times a day. Was she shredded – yes? Was she healthy – no! Diet-culture has brainwashed us into believing that appearance determines healthy, but, in reality, the function holds the crown.
In Nikki's own words, "Once you begin to focus on function, then you can take a step back and focus on how your body functions differently at different sizes."
If you've ever taken Nikki's class you know she is all about low impact movements, providing modifications, and meeting your body where it's at. Remember, body positivity includes finding respect for your body and not holding on to the "OMG, I ate this, so now I have to burn X amount on calories." Her virtual gym membership Rock Your Body Online is a fun space that allows all humans of all shapes and sizes to feel welcome and move their bodies in ways that actually feel good. The fitness industry places ridiculous standards that don't allow people to feel welcomed and Nikki is all about "rocking your body no matter where you are."
The fitness industry is long overdue for some changes in their deep-rooted system that makes money from people feeling shitty about themselves.
Nikki advises that the fitness industry can improve by educating society on diet-culture myths, including more representation of all sizes, cultures, races, and focusing on the reality of the facts.
Overall, Nikki's wise words for all is that as a filtered society, we need to empower women to be OK with the way they look. We are so much more than the filters on our faces and bodies. We are smart, driven, and ambitious. Body-respect begins with learning self-trust, inner validation, and self-respect. These are intimidating concepts, but it's all about the baby steps.
She left me with this influential message: "Let's teach girls to raise their hand and share their voices instead of shrink their bodies."