Women Owned Business: Flexible Fitness Body Positive Personal Training
“Body shaming doesn’t do anybody any good. Shame is not a motivating factor for most people. I don’t know a lot of people who want to pay to be shamed.”
The gym philosophy of “no pain no gain” coupled with the idea that “if you’re not throwing up then your workout isn’t done yet” has never resonated with Lily-Rygh Glen.
As a result Lily-Rygh started Flexible Fitness, a Portland personal training business based on a weight neutral, body positive approach. Lily-Rygh believes it is essential to meet people where they are, not where others think they should be.
Lily-Rygh enables people to see their bodies as an asset, not a liability. One of her goals with Flexible Fitness is to help people feel strong, healthy and confident mentally as well as physically.
When Lily-Rygh was 38 her mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Lily-Rygh comes from a family of individuals who die young. In her words, “When someone in the family turns 57 it’s as if a black cloud of doom emerges and hangs over their head”.
Sitting at home dealing with the reality of losing her mother Lily-Rygh had an epiphany,
“What if this isn’t all genetic? What if this is because no one in my family works out, or takes care of themselves? We all eat vegetables from cans, everybody smokes and drinks and there is a history of drug use. What if this doesn’t have to be destiny, what if at least part of it is controllable?”
That was the first time it ever occurred to her that poor health and early death did not have to be a prescription for her life. Lily-Rygh immediately got herself a personal trainer.
Soon after beginning training, a small but life altering moment occurred. Lily-Rygh was in the middle of a lat pulldown and her trainer said, “You know you have a really athletic body Lily-Rygh.” Lily-Rygh stopped mid-pull completely shocked and responded, “Did you just say that to me?”
“Because I had been so chronically body shamed my whole life, being told I was athletic felt like someone saying for the first time, you know you’re actually worth something right?”
That was the moment Lily-Rygh said to herself,“It’s on!” She started having so much fun that she invited friends to the gym. This experience made her realize how much she enjoyed showing people how to work out.
“I was bringing in friends who had similar backgrounds to me, mostly women, mostly overweight, chronically out of shape and who had never before found the power in their body’s strength. Watching that was totally addictive to me. I felt like I was empowering myself while empowering others. I felt that what I learned about myself while finding my strength was way too big to keep to myself.”
After five years of training in a shared box gym space, Lily-Rygh knew she needed to find a place where her clients could feel more at home. With the help of Mercy Corps Northwest Lily-Rygh was able to get her own space and purchase the necessary equipment through an IDA grant. As a result, her business nearly doubled in the first 2 months.
Now Lily-Rygh is training people of all shapes, sizes, and stages of life. She explains how powerful it is to help people discover the power in their bodies in a safe space, often for the first time. Especially for those who have experienced the helplessness of victimization or have trauma histories, Lily-Rygh says it feels like nothing short of a revolution. A revolution indeed; Lily-Rygh is leading a revolt against false body images, fat shaming and exclusion in fitness culture.
We are proud to support Lily-Rygh as she breaks down fitness stereotypes and promotes inclusion and representation of all bodies, races, and genders in the fitness world. Flexible fitness is an incredibly special space where people learn to trust in themselves and find unconditional acceptance. Mercy Corps Northwest is honored to have played a part in Lily-Rygh’s calling to help people feel strong, healthy and confident mentally as well as physically. Check out her website here https://www.flexiblefitnesspdx.com