You may not know her name now, but after this interview - we’re sure you won’t forget this #BossBabe. Louise Green is on a mission to help every ‘body’ realize their athletic potential, regardless of their size. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, UK’s The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post and Upworthy, and Louise is working towards making fitness a more inclusive space for all. With a new book just released and a 2016 Body Confidence Canada award under her belt, Louise has had an awesome year, so read on.
You are a personal trainer who runs the Body Exchange - could you tell me a bit more about it and why you opened it?
Body Exchange is a fitness company that offers personal training, group fitness programs, and destination fitness retreats with a focus on plus size women. I launched Body Exchange in 2008 because of my experiences as a plus-size woman trying to navigate the fitness industry. I was a regular participant at boot camps and running programs and I was always at the back of the pack even though my fitness level was good. The sheer science of my body’s mass and its ability to move as quickly as the lighter participants left me often feeling unsuccessful and defeated. I noticed the odd plus-size participant joining these programs who seemed new to fitness and they generally lasted two or three classes and then I’d never see them again. I thought this was an injustice and I realized that most fitness programs are designed for people who are already fit, so I created a safe and inviting fitness environment for plus-women to unleash their inner athlete amongst like-minded individuals.
Have there been any hurdles you have encountered since launching into your career as a plus-size trainer and advocate?
I’ve overcome MANY hurdles, from judgments about my knowledge and abilities as a trainer solely based on my body size, to condescending remarks at running and triathlon races and events, to hate mail and everything in between. But at the end of the day, I know I am a great trainer and influencer because I’ve lived the struggle. I know I’ve been a catalyst in inviting women to realize their athletic potential, which ultimately has changed their lives. I no longer need approval from anyone.
What does a typical day look like for you - in and out of the gym?
Up until recently a typical day for me involved a lot of writing, research and interviewing people for my book. But right now I am working with PR and my publisher to make the book launch the best it can be so training hasn’t been at the forefront. But I do personal training with a handful of clients throughout the week and offer three boot camp classes for clients in a group setting. My classes involve boxing, strength training using TRX suspension, weights, med balls, agility ladders, battle ropes and resistance bands. They are great fun! I intertwine my own training throughout all of that, which currently involves swimming and running during the off-season of triathlon. I am also a mother to a nine-year-old boy, so I am dedicated to making sure he grows up with body positivity, empathy and kindness to all walks of life.
Congrats on your book, which is titled “Big Fit Girl” by Greystone Books. Why do you think society looks down on plus-size athletes?
I am so excited to offer a new, more inclusive, perspective to the fitness bookshelf. I think from a health and fitness perspective, society often looks down, sadly, on most women size 14 or larger and this is because we’ve been highly influenced and misinformed by media makers and advertisers. In fitness media, such as magazines, blogs, trainers on television shows, you will never see a body size 6 or larger. Couple that with the endless obesity headlines, we’ve become a society conditioned to believe that larger bodies automatically (without even thinking a second thought) are unhealthy and unfit. Additionally, our culture has become distorted in our views of body size and its relation to health -- now with size 8-10 models and celebrities such as Amy Schumer being categorized as “plus-size”. With ultra-thin models representing the majority of clothing, beauty and health products, we are a society that has lost sight of reality.
How do you view body positivity and why do you think it is important for all folks?
I think body positivity is extremely important because our bodies are the vehicles in which we carry out our lives. If we aren’t feeling good about ourselves (or our bodies) then that reflects in our daily decisions: how much we allow ourselves to be seen, our willingness to put ourselves out there, our ability to have healthy relationships, our confidence to follow our dreams. I think body positivity is paramount to living to our potential.
Where do you draw inspiration from and how do you stay positive?
I draw an incredible amount of inspiration from other advocates and my clients, who are showing up to live better lives. I am so moved and inspired by women who are willing to stand up for feminist issues, start difficult conversations, push back against the status quo and change the conversation for plus women.
Do you have a way that you like to provide yourself self-care after long weeks?
My self-care usually comes in the form of exercise, a long swim or run. Getting my own workouts in can be challenging and I feel like it’s a treat to get to them, especially when they are on the weekend and I’m not rushed. Not going to lie, a nice hot tub at the pool and post smoothie with my training partner and bestie is awesome too. I also go to bed early -- I love my sleep!
Ok, so let’s get silly for a minute – what’s your favorite 90's jam to get pumped up?
C’mon, who doesn’t love, “What is Love” by Haddaway
Solid jam! I’m assuming you had that on blast prior to your recent TEDx talk about why size shouldn’t matter in sports. What was it like being on that stage?
TEDx was a huge dream of mine and an amazing experience. I haven’t heard another talk dedicated to fitness and athleticism for all sizes so I wanted to put it on the map. It took months of preparation but to stand up on that stage and say all I had to say in a polished talk under such a respected and recognized brand was THE speaking engagement of all gigs. It was truly amazing.
What do you think it takes to be a #BossBabe nowadays?
I think being a Boss Babe requires you to stand in your truth and never back down. There’s a lot of oppression looming over certain races, women, women of size, the LGBT community and there are Boss Babes changing these conversations. Whatever their truth is, a Boss Babe will let it be known that they are here to create change and will do whatever it takes. They are capable of leading others to new ways and they’ll be willing to take the mud in the face when there’s pushback for the sake of their cause. That’s a BOSS BABE.
Society+ Co-Founder, Jessica Kane, will be having a web chat with Louise on January 10th and we'd love to hear questions you have for her! Head over to our Instagram or Facebook page to post your questions.