Evolving with exercise by Alix Coe
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Alix Coe is a non-binary personal trainer living in Brighton. Today they're talking about how getting into exercise changed their life in multiple ways.
As a young kid I loved playing lunch time football with the boys at school. I liked rugby and hockey too and would enjoy these activities often. But by the time I got to high school, sports was my absolute least favourite subject.
I always felt unwelcome in class and became reluctant to participate. Plus, being in the female changing room was always an uncomfortable experience for me and I eventually gave up going at all.
When I was alone outside of the school gates, I loved to ride my bike and continued to kick footballs around. But with the stressful combination of gendered environments and the other students that I never really made friends with, my enjoyment for these things became non-existent. This negative connection to exercise is something that stayed with me for much of the next ten years.
When I moved to Brighton just over three years ago, I had just recently gotten sober, only knew a handful of people, and was taking medication daily to try to manage my anxiety.
Getting into Exercise
Whilst doing research into natural ways to improve my mental health, I read about how running can be great for this. I eventually managed to start tentatively taking myself out for gentle jogs. These attempts at exercise would come to an end when self-esteem and stamina struggles got the better of me, and I’d always end up walking a defeated retreat back home.
One of the very few people that I did initially know in Brighton was an old friend who was studying to become a personal trainer. One day she invited me to the gym with her so that she could have a practice client. Having someone to hold my hand and show me what to do, as well as working out alongside me, enabled me to get into fitness in a gentle way and our gym sessions became a regular thing.
It was a few months before I felt able to brave the gym (and the men’s changing rooms) alone, but this is something I don’t give a second thought to anymore. As we continued to go to the gym together I started to feel more confident, and it was around this time that I also discovered Trans Can Sport. Being able to exercise in such a supportive and sociable environment with other trans people was really empowering for me and encouraged me to take my health and fitness more seriously.
I started going to the gym more regularly with new friends and I also tried out some different Trans Can Sport activities. As I continued to make exercise a more important part of my life, I started to feel better about my body and my mental health also improved. It’s now been more than a year since I medicated my anxiety, and I feel a lot more comfortable with who I am.
Three years ago I was doing no exercise at all, and at the moment I’m going to the gym regularly, playing basketball with a group of queers every Friday night, and training to run the 2020 Brighton Marathon with another trans runner. Sport has become a huge part of my social life, which is especially important for me as someone who doesn’t drink or always feel able to go to alcohol-centric social events.
Becoming a Personal Trainer
In 2018 I decided that being able to guide other trans people into exercise would be a really fun and fulfilling thing to do, and signed up for a Level 3 personal training course in London.
There were no openly trans people leading the course or in attendance on it, and it quickly became clear that there was next to no consideration given to the additional challenges that trans people are presented with in exercise environments.
Having worked in the fitness industry within the trans community for nearly a year, I know first hand that the need clearly does exist and I’m excited to see that positive change is beginning to take place.
I now work as a part-time writer and part-time personal trainer. I’ve found the combination of these two things has helped me to find a balance in my life that I’ve never experienced before.
Advice for Beginners
My advice to anyone who is trying to get started with exercise is that this is something you can absolutely do without ever going to a gym.
Working out at home can be just as effective and challenging for your body as using the equipment at the gym. The key is knowing how to use your body and how to progress each movement to continue to challenge your muscles in new ways.
Getting started with some simple bodyweight movements or getting yourself some home workout equipment, such as a set of adjustable dumbbells and a skipping rope, is a great way to ease yourself into exercise.
If you want to talk more about working out at home, using equipment or not, then feel free to reach out to me anytime!
I currently offer sliding scale personal training in person and online to LGBTQ+ people, as well as nutrition and healthy living advice.