What Does Being Strong Look Like? + Swanson

HEY friends!

Oh boy am I glad yesterday is over. (The beginning was a kick-butt BodyPUMP class I taught though–that was great!) I know the idea of wanting a day to end sounds terrible, but holy stressful day at work! It was like one thing after another after another after another…..and on and on. There were moments there that I might’ve pulled out some hair. Or forgotten to breathe.

Just maybe.

Luckily though I’ve got my fitness to back me up and keep a cool head. Teaching Zumba last night did the trick, and I was back to my normal stress-level in no time. 😉



So the other night in BodyPUMP I taught a class to a bunch of people who usually come. There was however, a guy who came to the class who had never been before. He looked like one of those ‘gym rat’ guys; as in, he was fit, muscular, and looked confident as class started.

As the class went on, I saw his facial expressions change, his pride start to slip away, and a mixed look of confusion and awe come over his face. It was quite the transformation, so of course I asked him what he thought of class as we were all cleaning up and leaving.

He chuckled and said, “Wow. That was really different from what I am used to!  You surprised me though, you were a lot stronger than you look.”

I was SO taken aback, I just smiled and said “Yah.”

WHAT DOES that even mean?!

At first I was angry. Then I was laughing. Then I was confused. And then I said something to my husband, and he goes, “well honey, you were lifting more than him, and you don’t look like him or those other bulky women.”


Also, a comment left on a BodyPUMP post (by another instructor) told me that because I was thin and lean (and not bulky), there was no way I was lifting the weight I said I lifted in BodyPUMP.


So if you lift a lot more than someone else, you must be a certain size or look a certain way?!

Oh dear.

There is NO one size fits all. And I truly believe this. And if a woman lifts heavier weights–especially for as many reps as there are in BodyPUMP, she will.not.bulk.up.

Instead of being angry though (or annoyed or frustrated with people’s ignorance….sorry.), I’ve decided to figure out, then what does being strong look like exactly?

What Does Being Strong Look Like?

 I want to open it up to you. What does being strong look like or FEEL like for you?

Is there supposed to be an ideal? Is there a perfect body we’re all striving for in the fitness world??

Some of my conclusions:

  • If we truly do believe there is a perfect body, we are going to be miserable. Yep. Until we understand deep down that there is NO one perfect body, we’ll be SO much happier and content with our own fitness goals.
  • A woman could potentially lift more than a man in BodyPUMP- especially if she’s been going to (or teaching) the class for awhile. #sorryiamnotsorry
  • Lifting medium-heavier weights with a lot of reps is VERY different from lifting huge amounts of weight for only a few reps. The energy systems used are completely different, and the metabolic processes are so varied that it’s not even a fair comparison.
  • If we judge other people critically for what they are doing ‘wrong’ in our eyes, it’s usually because there is some deeper insecurity that we’re actually dealing with.
  • ‘Being strong’ does NOT denote a certain body type, muscular build, or even determine a special fitness regimen as being the best.
  • Everyone who has fitness goals is trying the best he or she can. We should treat them that way!
  • If we ever believe someone should look, act, or be like us, we’re only kidding ourselves. Why would you ever want to be someone else?!?
  • Being strong does NOT always signify muscular strength. There are women and men who are strong spiritually, mentally, socially, and emotionally.

I guess those musings from a fitness instructor have now come to a conclusion.


Swanson Products

A few weeks ago I was introduced to this really cool site–it has all kinds of health products such as almond butter, almond milk, coconut oil, vitamins, chia seeds, shampoos, and more! I wish they had dry shampoo though. I need that. Bad.

Anyways, SwansonVitamins was such a convenient place to grab a few items I needed (and wanted). They kindly comped the items, but I will definitely buy from them again–their Justin’s Almond Butter was the best price I’ve seen around.

And it was my first time trying Justin’s…..wow. Let’s just say a love affair has begun. Oh wait. You can’t marry an almond butter?? Sad. I guess I’ll have to stick to just eating it for now.

Thanks Swanson! I am an online shopper, so affordable, easy, and quick are definite plusses around here. Me likey.  {P.s. I was given products to try, but all opinions are my own.}


Toodles! Off to hop on that spin bike and then run.

P.s. I can NOT wait to hear your thoughts about what being strong looks like!

And GO…..!! :)

What does being strong look like or feel like to YOU?? Have YOU ever had issues with someone thinking you couldn’t lift a certain weight?? Have YOU ever tried Justin’s Almond Butter??

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  1. My daughter thinks I’m strong when I lift her up over my head while we are playing. My husband thinks I am strong because I work a full time job, workout, and manage our household. My friends think I am strong because I go to the gym and workout. But I see my strength as a combination of physical, emotional, and spirtiual strength. My strength is seen in my muscles, my care for others, and how I handle the curveballs life throws at me.

    Justin’s AB is my favorite almond butter. I am starting to run low….must order more!

  2. LOVE this post annette! and all i have to say is, you go girl! being strong to me is trying your best and FEELING strong and confident. that could mean squatting 80 pounds or 200 pounds, as long as you feel good about what you’re doing.

    also, you have to try out the justin’s vanilla almond butter! it’s at whole foods and is AMAZING!

  3. I definitely think everyone’s version of strong will look different from another. For me being strong is being confident and content in my body and enjoying going to the gym doing whatever it is I’m doing at that moment. Not necessarily doing weights, but could be in a spin class as well.
    I want to try that nut butter BAD! I haven’t seen it in Canada yet.

  4. Strong looks like good posture and good body mechanics. As well, adaptation to certain moves (as in Body Pump) will allow one smaller person to out lift another bigger person. To me, someone who moves with confidence, good posture, elongation, and spring in her step defines strong! Also, the ability to do the things in life that make one happy.

  5. I used to buy from Swanson but now I buy from Lucky Vitamin cuz it’s cheaper. I love Almond Breeze <3

  6. Danielle says:

    Super post as always! Strong for me is having energy, feeling good inside my body, and having the strength to have great workouts. Strong is also knowing when to cut back, and when to add more.. not just stay on one speed all the time. That takes some strength of mind, lol. I used to hate it if someone told me I looked strong, and misunderstood it for bulky, but now I take it like a compliment :-p
    Wow that nut butter looks amazing!!!!! Must try it, I already know it will be game over 😀

  7. Wow girl! Great post! I think you should take his statement as a compliment though :) I guess it is just how some people word things that can throw you for a loop you know??? :) But seriously, hun. I know it was a compliment :) I would LOVE to take a body pump class from you <3 I will have to come visit you one day <3

    A lot of people underestimate my strength, too so I can relate to this post a lot! I loved it and I loved your conclusions at the end! xo

  8. Almond milk = Amazing. ‘Nuf said. :)

  9. For me, being strong is just watching myself improve with lifting heavy weights in the gym. Or seeing the number of pushups I can do in a row go up. There may be people that can lift more than I can, but for my standards, I am damn strong right now and proud of it. :-)

  10. GO YOU!!! I was surprised also by how much you could lift, but not because the way you look – just because it’s a lot of weight!!!! I agree… there is def no formula for what strong looks like… I lift heavier than some of my friends and I lift lighter than some of my friends and we all look different – that’s the beauty of it all! :) :)

  11. Nicole says:

    Great post! As an instructor when ladies in my BP class continue to lift 5 pound weights for everything, thinking they will get bulky. Many of these women come to class week after week, month after month, and wonder why they aren’t seeing positive changes in their bodies. I try to tell them that they have to change their weight to change the way they look.

    I’ve let my fitness slip over the past 6 months or so. When I was leaner/smaller (10 pounds less than where I’m at today), I could lift more. Skinny doesn’t always mean weak! Power comes in all sizes!!

  12. kristle says:

    i’m still trying to figure out what being strong means to me… but i just wanted to say that justin’s maple almond butter is amazing! it’s justins favorite nut butter so that tells you it has to be good. :) with a fresh apple, its the perfect dessert.

  13. This post instantly reminded me of a time that a member in my best friend’s class told him he was “deceptively strong.” I think a lot of people automatically associate strength with bulk, even though it’s clear even watching PROFESSIONAL athletes that strong comes in many forms.

    (I’m reminded of this photoshoot that you can see here: http://ninamatsumoto.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/athletic-body-diversity-reference-for-artists/)

    I love reading the comments on this post too though – strength is always just muscle strength. It’s emotional, mental, and physical. :)

    • Great points! Strength does not always mean bulk. Amen.

      Great pics!

      • I just realized an important typo – strength *isn’t* always just muscle strength. :)

        (P.S. Obviously GX and other trainers are also professional athletes in a different capacity. :))

  14. Strong is confidence!

  15. That first quote is so true! LOVE it!

  16. I love seeing those huge muscly looking men and then beating them- either out running them, outboxing them etc etc..they are quite shocked since I am only little haha. Oh yum I wish we had justins butters over here in Aus.


  1. […] Annette gets a high five for receiving a compliment about her strength! You are a BodyPUMP rockstar, girl! <3 […]



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