When I was in jr high school I idolized Madonna. To me, she was the essence of IDGAF cool. Soooo, like every other teen girl in the 80s, I permed my hair and tied it up in big floppy bows. I stacked black rubber bracelets up both of my arms. I wore leggings with tube skirts and denim jackets. I tried desperately to capture the essence of “cool” that Madonna so effortlessly projected until one day I realized that it wasn’t her clothing that made Madonna cool---it was her spirit. Her creativity. She had put the originality into those wardrobe choices (ok maybe a stylist did), but I had simply ripped it off. Therefore I couldn’t “own” it the way she did. That realization led me to understand that there is a difference between being inspired and being an imitator.
I am constantly inspired. As a writer, I am inspired by the voices of countless authors who can flawlessly stream together words in such a way that they paint visual pictures. As a fitness instructor, I am inspired by the styles of other fitness pros and how they use their own experiences and personalities to motivate. But while I may be inspired by certain writers and influenced by their styles, I can’t steal their words (mostly because well, plagiarism--lol) but because that’s not MY voice so it won’t resonate with a reader in the same way. And I can’t copy the styles of my favorite fitness instructors because it won’t be authentic, and if I’m not authentic than I can’t connect, and if I can’t connect—then I can’t motivate.
I am fortunate that my BA partner Wes is one of the best cycle instructors in the city. But when I decided to audition to become a cycle instructor myself, I didn’t tell him right away. Why? Because I knew he’d want to help me and I was afraid I would try to mimic his inimitable, unique, creative style rather than work hard to find my own. Sure we share the same taste in music and have a similar high-energy trait---but there is no one else that can do what he does because it comes from a place within him that is uniquely his own—and that’s the point. I could steal his (or anyone else’s) exact playlist, use the exact same choreography, say the exact same phrases, and it still wouldn’t be the same class.
I prefer learning from people—watching what they do—asking how they do it—and then putting my own spin on it because when something is real you can see it, feel it, read it, taste it and, most importantly, connect to it. Otherwise you are just phoning it in, and it will fall flat every time.
As you travel along your fitness journey, let yourself be inspired by what other people are doing and achieving. But don’t imitate them in the hopes of achieving the same results. You will only frustrate yourself. Find YOUR passion, YOUR voice and figure out what it is that YOU want--- and then go get it YOUR way.
Find the thing that makes you, YOU--- and then watch as that very thing makes YOU become a source of inspiration YOURSELF.