You Need People Who Believe in You

I work out 5 to 7 days per week and have for over 20 years. It’s in my nature to be fit, active and push myself. Right now, I’m on a ‘boot camp’ kick. After trying many of the boot camp classes in town, I settled on the hardest one, run by a former pro-athlete. He pushes everyone to their limits, every class, and his classes are always different. I rarely do the same move twice in a 6 week period. The variety, the intensity and the shared pain and camaraderie all work together for one amazing class.

This week though, I found myself dreading class. I also noticed I wasn’t working as hard as usual. It’s unlike me to not be extremely competitive with myself and others so I sat down with a giant cup of tea and my journal (that’s a lie; I want to be a person that journals but I’m not that girl) and tried to figure out why I had lost my motivation for this class.

The answer came quickly.

“It don’t matter what music I play, you ain’t gonna work hard!” Two weeks earlier, during a particularly grueling set of burpees and stair climbers, I had requested some upbeat music (Lady GaGa specifically) and that’s what I got in return, “It don’t matter what music I play, you ain’t gonna work hard.”  It demoralized me and it angered me. I should have called bullsh** on the attitude and given Mr. Pro Athlete a piece of my mind, but I meekly just did another million burpees and stair climbers as he yelled to the class, “No one gets to quit this set until Anne-Marie does. And you can thank Anne-Marie for this music!” (as he put on a ballad of Lady GaGa’s, throwing the gym into a somber, depressive pall).

Buh Bye

I was embarrassed. I was angry. And instead of galvanizing me, over the next week, I just found myself not caring. Why should I try hard if he’s already pigeon-holed me into being a lazy, sandbagging loser? Why push myself for a teacher that doesn’t acknowledge hard work and publicly tries to take me down a notch? Forget this “You’re doing this for yourself! How lucky are you that you get the luxury to work out an hour a day! Your 50-year-old self will thank you for this investment!” pep talk that I usually give myself. I was angry. And I didn’t want to try any more; at least not for HIM. If I was going to try, it was going to be at another gym, for myself, and with an instructor that believed in me.

All of this drove home an important lesson: surround yourself with people who believe in you, who uplift you and who support you. Believing in you doesn’t mean coddling you. It doesn’t mean letting you take the easy route. But, it does mean supporting you to reach your next goals, telling you that you have one more rep/late night/craft show/sales call in you and encouraging you to reach your best and brightest potential with love, boundaries and aggressive cheerleading.

Take a look at your inner circle, your support team. Are they all-in to help you reach your next level? Do they have the ability to do it with compassion, determination and thoughtful feedback? Do they make you want to be a better human being, a better community member, a better parent, and a better businessperson? It might be time to change out some people on your team. I know it’s time for me to change out one person on my team; buh-bye Mr. Pro Athlete. I’ll miss your workouts but I won’t miss the way you made me feel.

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  1. Lynn says

    Thank you Anne-Marie!
    I just opened this email today and it was perfect timing…just what I needed, when I needed it most.
    We do not know each other, but I am always inspired and uplifted by your posts, especially this one.

    Thanks for standing up for yourself, inspiring others to do the same and sharing your incredible journey.
    Kindest regards,

  2. Alison says

    As a teacher and a sometimes student, I love this post. If type-A and competitive people like yourself can lose motivation with negative feedback, imagine how such an attitude affects those who are more sensitive and/or harder to motivate?

    I continue to learn this lesson and I have also learned not to keep looking for positive and motivational feedback from those who it is not in their nature or habit to give. There are many forward thinking and positive souls out there and I agree, so important to surround yourself with them!

  3. patricia says

    Well, a lesson I learned not so long ago (wish I knew this years ago). This is a say where I live (loosely translated): “if someone does not add up to your life, then he is substracting”. And anybody who doesn’t add up to you, you have the right to take him/her out of your life. Sometimes it’s not so obvious when someone is sucking your energy and substracting (like a bad marriage that goes on for too long) but as soon as you realize it, you should RUN, run fast on the other direction. So, I’m glad you quit his class. We have the right to chose NOT to be a victim.

  4. Kam says

    My question is….what does he have against Lady Gaga?!? *lol* For me, I cannot work out without music and yes I do listen to her music. It keeps me on the elip a lot longer if I’m rocking out to a beat! I guess he is one of those guys who thinks anger is a motivator. What a jerk!

  5. laurie says

    Thanks for the letter acknowledging how important it is to surround yourself with a team that respects and is kind. Encouraging you is part of their JOB !!!
    Maybe he thought he was projecting a military toughness… , but that kind of humiliation and reverse psychology just never seems to work when we need real encouragement.
    An unbelievable parenting / relationship gem dropped right in your life !!! What a lesson of love for little guy J and your new sweet baby. For Chris while he marathons all over the place… This awareness will come back and gentle you for the rest of your life.
    Again, thanks for sharing.

  6. Madea says

    With so much negativity, the last thing you need is someone who is Supposed to be motivating you, do the opposite. I have to say I learn so much from this site, your reflections make me think. Hopefully he learns from this and modifies his teaching technique.

  7. says

    Hugs Anne-Marie! I love how mature and thoughtful your response was to your situation. Yes, many would get angry but most would not then analyze the ‘why’. Thank you for sharing xxx

  8. Mary Coe says

    This really isn’t about should you be exercising or not, it’s about the real world we live in. I’m almost 65 (Jan. is the big month). I have worked very hard at being an RN, teaching nutrition, and owning a Cultured Marble manufacturing company that involved every aspect of business. I ran a company in an “all men’s world” (woman were not supposed to know anything about making marble vanity tops, installing, plumbing, etc.) I ran into all kinds of people who tried to put me down, make me feel that I didn’t know what I was talking about. If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, none of that matters.
    Surrounding yourself with positive people is a must in the world we live in as we cannot avoid those negative people in “the real world of business.” When we have choices, we need to pick people who are positive influences in our lives. People who are negative only will bring us down. Remember, “Attitudes are contagious!” You don’t want to catch his!!!

  9. Toni says

    I’m sorry you had to go through that demoralizing experience, but thanks for sharing the lesson you learned from it. A good reminder for us to surround ourselves with persons who will help us to be our best. And to, within the limits of our ability, not let the ones who discourage us allowed in a position where they do so. I appreciate your thoughtful, helpful reflections.

  10. says

    I am SO sorry that you had this experience…oddly enough, I found your blog while I was looking for articles on the benefits of sunshine and being outside and then read this post.

    I’ve recently moved to Spokane from Seattle and have been a personal trainer for 26 years, so when I read about your experience, I was REALLY angry on your behalf. NO ONE should treat another human being like that, especially when you are putting your faith and trust in this person. Training-coaching is a HUGE responsibility, and this guy blew it.

    I’ve taught boot camp classes before, and for me, a big part of it is empowering the people in the class so that they know they have the power within themselves to do it – berating and humiliating people is not even an option.

    Again SO SORRY this happened to you, and I agree with other commenters, you should formally complain!

  11. Patricia says

    Geez…I’m having visions of Tom Hanks yelling, “Yes, Drill Sargeant!!!” and Richard Gere yelling, “Sir, yes Sir!!!”, repectively in “Forrest Gump” and “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

    And then Gere kicked his drill sargent’s butt.

    There’s one small difference. These were depictions of men being prepared for the ugliness of war and the real possibility of becoming a prisoner of the enemy, at which point, they are subject to the same kind of demeaning verbal abuse and everything else. So in treating them this way, they are toughened up, steeled, prepared.

    Only difference…you’re not going to war. You’re just there to stay fit. (In my mind, you’re already fit! :) )

    Sure, they can call it “boot camp,” as it is grueling, but this kind of derogatory treatment is uncalled for, unnecessary and inappropriate for the situation.

    I agree with Kathy. Report him to his superiors.

    He needs to “be put in HIS place.” Otherwise, there will be other victims who may suffer even more than you did. I think it will make you feel “AB-FAB” (pun intended) for doing this as a service to others who may unfortunately cross his path in the future!

    Kick his butt, Anne-Marie. I would. :)

  12. says

    Thank you for writing those words. I just finished e mailing a client thanking her for alway encouraging me and believing in me. Then I opened my mail from soap queen all I can say is AMEN!!! To you

  13. Erin says

    Good for you for walking out on Mr. Pro Athlete JERK! Put his rude, insensitive comments behind you.

    While I don’t work out each day, I do ride regularly and compete with my horses. About 15 years ago, I took a few lessons with the European version of your Mr. Pro Athlete. He screamed at me, humiliating me in front of others. I was in tears. I don’t know why people like that think that negative behavior and humiliation will push you to “get mad” and work harder. To me, it was a complete turn off.

    My current trainer is WONDERFUL – positive and encouraging. I’ve learned a lot over the years I’ve been with her.

    Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your story with others.

    • Anne-Marie says

      Ah ha, so you’ve had a similar experience and know how important it is to have a positive, encouraging coach. =) And I agree, getting me mad does not work for motivation.

  14. Lisa says

    Uhmm..not sure if I should ask but, aren’t you pregnant?
    Not saying one should not work out but should you be working
    Out like that? I attended boot camps and know the physical demand
    that is placed on the body and mind. Maybe you are not working up to
    full potential and he picked up on it? After all boot camps are extreme
    exercising torture camps..that for some reason some of us love. I’m not
    excusing bad behavior on Mr. Pros part but again boot camps have been
    Designed to torture mind and body thus the name. The old saying is true,”if you
    Can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”. But back to my original point, didn’t
    I read in your blog that your pregnant? Please don’t hate me for not agreeing that the instructor is at fault here..but pregnant women tend to be more emotional then normal.
    Please be careful with the amount of excerise you are doing right now and hopefully
    You will find the right fit!
    Merry Christmas

    • Dee says

      Most OBs will tell you that it is safe to work out if your body is used to it pre-pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. I am sure that she cleared it with her doctor and I am sure that she would never do anything that would harm herself or her pregnancy.

      Your comment really rubbed me the wrong way. Didnt you read her post? She is trying to avoid condescending and negative people, just like you. The instructor WAS at fault here, and if this incident had happened to a person with lower self esteem and self worth, it could have seriously damaged that person. He was not trying to motivate her. He was trying to demean her.

      • says

        I’m in agreement with Dee here. The instructor was wrong for what he did. I mean he did tell the class to “thank ann-maire for the music” that is totally a jerkish demeaning thing to say! Also, when I was pregnant my doctor told me also that it would be safe to exercise, that was back when I was doing competitive athletic training since my body was used to it. I wasn’t allowed to do sparring though for obvious reasons.

      • Anne-Marie says

        Happily cleared it with my OB team; they’re thrilled I’m working out but definitely slowing down as my belly gets bigger and I get more ‘not’ graceful. =)

      • Lisa says

        Wow talk about negative! Point the finger and 3 are pointing right back at you!
        I bet you rub a lot of people the wrong way!
        Try and have yourself a pleasant day!

    • Anne-Marie says

      Definitely pregnant – and showing! =) I tend to slow down on the workouts around month 5, when the relaxin kicks in and nothing quite works the way it should. Then, I switch to elliptical trainer, pilates and weight lifting.

      I appreciate the concern (truly). In this case, I’ve cleared my working out with not 1 but 5 doctors and a genetic specialist from the University of Washington. I’m a high-risk pregnancy due to 4 genetic blood clotting disorders so have an entire team working to keep the Bramble Bump safe. Ironically, more movement for me is better than less movement. I get up every hour to ensure blood clots don’t form and have to do daily blood thinner injections. But it’s all worth it to keep this little baby girl or boy safe for the 9-10 months they’re with me.

      The Bramble Bump’s Grandpa is a Doctor too; he would totally call me out if he was worried about the baby’s safety. =)

      Again,thanks for caring. Like many things, parenting and raising kids completely takes a village.

  15. says

    Oh Anne-Marie that is AWFUL! I wish I could just march right up to that horrible man and give him a piece of my mind!

    I wish I could have the ability to go workout like you do! I am limited however to working out in my home, it does get a little boring do the same ol same ol. I used to belong to a martial arts class however back when I was younger hehe (makes me feel old saying that, I’m not though honest!). It was great I wish I could do that again, the school closed though. But what I am getting at, was being in the martial art class it wasn’t just a gym, we were like a family. I wish that for you. I hope in whatever place you next choose to go that it becomes a second family. That is when you reach your full potential. I left doing things I never imagined I could, and winning tournaments I never thought I would compete in, because I had my taekwondo family there pushing me through it.

    This video may or may not inspire you, but since taekwondo was my thing it always inspires me to get up and practice :)

  16. says

    How terrible that you were treated that way by your instructor. I wouldn’t go back to that class, either. Life is too short for negative people. I don’t understand what people think they are going to accomplish by being rude and mean. Being nice doesn’t cost a thing and it works out better for everybody!

    • Anne-Marie says

      Love that – you’re right. Being nice does not cost a thing (and heck, probably gains you some great friends).

  17. says

    I can relate to this.
    I used to be a VERY fit, exercise 7 days a week gal but there were days when I just did not feel like exercising. You have to have a break once in a while no matter how positive the people are around you. This is about you. Then I had a back and a neck operation and I took a really long break – 4 years. I am only now getting my mind right to get back into the fitness field. Remember you are also pregnant and that does knock the “stuffing” out of you a little. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    • Anne-Marie says

      =) Thanks for the love. And I’m sorry about your neck operation. I had no idea! Were you able to make your amazing soap cupcakes during that period?

      This pregnancy has been so different than my first. I feel 110% (except for being slightly more tired than when I’m not pregnant). I’m trying not to read too much into this and believe it’s a girl =)

  18. Fuchia says

    Fantastic read, a friend of mine joined a group that was supposed to help her get to her goal of losing weight and when she lost a few pounds one week they blasted her and said she had lost to quickly and treated her like a kid and dragged a counselor to talk to her. Guess what she left the group and continued to pile on the weight because it was such a bad experience.

    I enjoy these posts because a times I think your perfect and it’s so nice to know you are normal like the rest of us and go through ups and downs.

    • Anne-Marie says

      Oh man! That is not very supportive or very nice. It’s like when she didn’t confirm to what they thought she should be, they threw up their hands and tossed her out of the group. She didn’t deserve that. But I’m glad she didn’t let it get her down!

  19. says

    I am nearly 60 years old, work out hard three times a week and do an hour of walking on the other days. I work out at home, to DVDs, as I find the only person who truly motivates me is me. I would NEVER, EVER, put up with that crap from an instructor, who I hired to do me a service.

    Rather than just walking out, Anne Marie, you should tell him why. People like him need to be told that he can’t abuse his meal ticket, and that you are voting with your feet and your pocketbook. His boss should also be told, as he probably drives away clients.

    Elitist, arrogant athletes have no place instructing the general population.

    You have nothing to lose and it will feel
    really, really good!

    Love your posts, Soap Queen, you’re a real inspiration!

    • Anne-Marie says

      YEAH! I love this! I hope that I am working out 3X a week when I am 60. Is it too cliche to say “You go girl!?” =)

      Thanks for the love and support.

  20. Debbie says

    I really needed this today! It is difficult when you work with people whose glass is half empty or when you are being positive, they think of something negative. You definitely encouraged me with this post today to keep moving forward in the best way I can. Believing in someone, especially your business is so much healthier and easier when we are encouraging and motivating. I’m not perfect but I sure try not to be the downer in life. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Anne-Marie says

      Oh, I would absolutely hate working with people that were not positive and good at reframing everything to the sunny side of life. You can be the sunny island at work though. Maybe it will catch on =)

  21. says

    Your story reminds me of why I quit playing tennis in high school. Twenty five years later I’ve learn to spot those people quickly and remove myself from their company. I’ve learned their behavior is about their own insecurities and shortcomings. I’m blond, small, quiet, and easy on the eyes (so I’m told), so that must mean I’m stupid, snobby, and have a perfect life, and must deserve to be treated badly. Well, I’ve just spent the last 30 years dealing with depression and OCD; 19 years working on a successful, inter cultural marriage; 16 years of being a parent; 12 years of dealing with my daughter’s birth defect and all the surgeries and doctor’s trips… Life’s too short, and I don’t have time for such small minded people who would make up their minds about me so quickly. Good for you on cutting loose the baggage. Don’t put up with those kind of people. I’m willing to bet he was stereotyping you – your blond, small, run a successful business, and easy on the eyes:-)
    And by the way, I am the girl who sits down with her journal and pen, but I think you sit down with a journal too- it’s just on your computer! I appreciate how you journal about the ups and downs of your life- it is inspirational!

    Anna Marie Tang

    • Anne-Marie says

      Nice name! I spent some time on your blog last night and your scary tsunami warning story. I remember that earthquake because we’re near Canada so I was worried about tsunamis here.

      It is funny that people judge without any attempt to get to know you – but that’s just fine because it gives you more time for the people who do take the time to know you. =)

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your perspective and support.

  22. says

    Wow, the timing of this couldn’t have been better. With craft shows galore at this time of year, it’s sometimes easy to get demotivated to push and work to try and get more done for another show. Like you say, one small action can truly demoralize a person into not taking further action.

    Thank you for this post, it was a great read.

    • Anne-Marie says

      So glad you liked it – and good luck at all the craft shows. I know it can be tough to be working that hard every weekend. It’s emotionally taxing to be that chipper and up when selling day after day. Been there, done that! But, it’s worth it to build your happy clientele and help provide a PT or FT income! =)

  23. says

    Good for you for putting a hedge around yourself and your heart. It’s such a mind clearing experience to eliminate certain people from your life. Sounds like you got some great workouts from him in the past, and now, time to move on. Next!

  24. Audrey says

    I love this post. I can’t express how much I need this sort of positivity in my life, the pushing, supporting, cheering. I’m at a place where I’m vulnerable, a bit scared, intimidated, unsure and of course, almost alone in every aspect. Little glimmers of hope mean the world.
    Thank you so much for this article, truly.

    • Anne-Marie says

      It will get better for sure – whatever situation is making you unsure will resolve itself (even if it’s not a good resolution, at least you’ll know the answer). Hang in there =)

  25. says

    Wow. So true, Anne-Marie. I always say, “rip ’em off like a bandaid.” You did not deserve that. Good on you for dropping him. Keep your chin up. You are the inspiring one. Mister pro-athlete has some evolving to do.

  26. Lela Barker says

    Amen and amen. My team rallied around me this week and I am ever-grateful for the support. A great core support network is worth its weight in gold. xo

    • Anne-Marie says

      Love having a team – mine does too if they see I’m having an off day =) I appreciate it SO much!