Recently I had the opportunity to present at NettWorks, a Vancouver women’s networking event with a room full of amazing women who had just finished tackling an invigorating CAPOEIRA demo – a tough act to follow.
When I shared with them the title of my talk, I giggled to myself and said, “This sounds like the start of a bad joke about a personal trainer, a bodybuilder and a politician.” But stomping out the stereotypes is something that is hugely important to me and the opportunity to share my story and an important message.
In 2000, I made the decision to follow my passion and dove into the world of being a “Social Entrepreneur” long before the term existed. The concept for iBuildStrongWomen.com (under construction) was born and the journey began 12 years ago. Along the way, I’ve addressed a number of stereotypes that I’ve enjoyed stomping out because I’ve never wanted to be defined by what I do; rather, I want who I am in to the world to re-define each of these stereotypical roles as we know them:
The “Personal Trainer”:
The majority of folks working in or associated with the fitness industry are fixated on the “outside layer“. If I see one more advertisement or Facebook post about losing 7 pounds in 7 days I’m going to scream. For me, it’s about so much more than that. I’ve been lifting now for over half my life and have gleamed expertise from some of the finest world-class athletes along the way. It’s a privilege for me to be able to do what I do and one that I hate to see get watered down into just a weight-loss conversation.
- My work goes far beyond “skin deep“;
- Fitness is a vehicle that allows me to have a positive influence on a woman’s life while we work together;
- I want to give you just a few examples of fitness acts and physical endeavours that have been used in very positive and powerful ways to make a difference – Terry Fox, Rick Hansen, Sarah Jamison, Norma Bastidas and my current work with a brilliant young woman, Mikayla Custance.
- We are physical beings so it only makes sense that the stronger we are, the stronger we are!
Close your eyes and visualize for a moment… what image comes to mind when you hear the term, “Bodybuilder“? Well, I’m not freakishly huge, I’m 100% natural, and I regard myself a fairly intelligent woman. Likely not the typical match or what you imagined for this stereotypical role. Yet, I am a bodybuilder who is 23 weeks out from her next competition, the Ironman Naturals on October 6th in Bellevue, Washington. And I have been living the bodybuilder lifestyle since I was in my early 20′s.
- I love the process of taking a client through competition prep: goal-setting, strategizing an successful action plan, completing the follow-through with perseverance and dedication – the work to be done, and creating a positive experience in their lives that empowers their spirit, boosts their confidence and increases their belief in what they feel is possible for their lives. And then observing what that next step is for them. It’s amazing!
When I look up Wiki’s definition of the term politician here’s what I find, “People who hold decision-making positions in government.”
The role of the ‘Politician” is a fairly new role for me (November 2011). It’s a role that is stretching me to learn, grow and demonstrate courage to be a positive community leader and visionary. I ran for politics in order to bring a younger energy to our Council, a fresh perspective to discussions and to set an example for other younger working keeners that it IS possible to be involved as well as having a family, career or business.
On one of my former business cards I used the title Creative Catalyst for Positive Change. Some people would look at the card and have a puzzled look on their face because it’s not a commonly recognized title or stereotype. I stay focused on being positive and balancing my passion for people with the issues that face my small, rural community.
The message that I would like to leave you with is three-fold:
***Allow who you are and how you want to be remembered define what you do in this world rather than those roles defining you. Stomp out the stereotypes!
***If you haven’t already, I encourage you to think about fitness and your physical body as a vehicle to connecting you with all of your untapped potential and inner strength that lies just below your skin.
***Your life is a MOVIE…. a screenplay where you are the main character and all of the people, interactions and experiences you encounter are to remind you of your true greatness and that you are worthy of everything you want to do, be, create and experience in your life.
I am Charlene SanJenko… Social Entrepreneur, Creative Catalyst for Positive Change, Fitness Expert & Performance Coach (“Personal Trainer”), Competitive Natural “Bodybuilder”, “Politician” and Exceptional Woman.
I’m here to serve – with respect – for the greater good.
Photo credits: Stephanie Wiriahardja
Photos used with permission of Netteworks.