Why We Share Our Gender Pronouns in Class
by Lianna Cotant, RECF member
At Ripple Effect, every class we introduce ourselves. We ask for folks to share their name, and then give the option to share their pronouns if they’d like. So, why do we have our members do this? And what does it have to do with fitness?
Let’s breakdown the terminology, to make sure everyone is on the same page. Cis means “on the same side as.” When we add that to gender, it means you identify “on the same side as” the gender you were assigned at birth, and often the gender you show up as at the gym. It’s the antonym of trans or transgender, which means people who move “across” from the gender they were assigned at birth.
Ok, now what do we mean by pronouns? He, him, his, she, her, hers, they, them – these are all ways people choose to identify themselves and how they would like others to identify them.
How We do Class
When we go around the room at the beginning of class, the coach will prompt our members to share their pronouns, their name and answer the question of the day. It’s a way for our members to get to know each other a little better before we start. As a cisgendered woman, though, why do I need to share my pronouns? Can’t everyone see I like “she, her” pronouns? Well, first, not necessarily! You can’t tell someone’s preferred pronouns based on physical appearance. Second, we want to make it comfortable and normal for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves cisgendered to share their pronouns, alongside the rest of the class. By now it’s just a normal part of class.
Ok, cool, you all are inclusive, I like that, but what does it have to do with fitness?
What Does This Have to do with Fitness?
Fitness is highly personal to you, and you are the expert on your own body. Only you can tell if a movement is going to be too challenging, or if your knee feels wonky today. Only you can truly push yourself or give yourself a break if you’re not feeling fully recovered. At Ripple Effect, we respect where everyone is at and give a lot of modifications for each movement, making sure everyone feels good about their workout that day.
It’s much the same with people’s gender identity and preferred pronouns. No person on Earth knows as much about you as YOU and we want to respect exactly where you are, where you’re coming from, and to help you get where you’re going.
At Ripple Effect, we are driven by relationships and trust. Ultimately we ask about pronouns, because we care enough to ask. Nobody likes being called by the wrong name, right? Nobody likes being called by the wrong gender pronouns, either! Giving folks the space to share these two important pieces of info ensures everyone feels comfortable and welcome in the space. Nobody has to share pronouns, it’s always optional. However, we do ask our members to make every effort to use the pronouns that people prefer.
We want each person to come in knowing we respect their boundaries and trust them to trust their own bodies, their own identities and their own journeys. We believe that folks need to trust the people around them, and feel comfortable with them, if they’re going to be OK being vulnerable and pushing themselves in the gym. Ultimately, feeling at home here will keep people coming back more often. Coming back more often will get better results and health in the long run.
Implementing this change to our class intros has been an easy win for our community over the past year. We’d love to see more gyms follow suit!