How exercise can push you to be your best – inside and outside the gym

Two grads talk sweat, strength and self-esteem

Boxing is a one-two punch for Brooklyn Tryhuba (Personal Fitness Trainer ’17).

The intense workout has physical benefits, gets her heart pumping and sweat pouring, but it also makes her tougher mentally. She walks more confidently when leaving the gym.

“That’s my favourite part of boxing – the empowerment behind the sport,” she says.

Tryhuba is a coach at Champs Boxing Studio in downtown Edmonton. When she graduated from NAIT, she never thought she’d put on a pair of boxing gloves. Once she tried it – punching bags, not people – she loved how the sport transformed her.

Exercise doesn’t just give you the power to change on the outside, she says, it’s also a means to inner strength. Getting your body moving can improve how you feel about yourself and how you deal with obstacles.

“It makes me feel like a badass.”

“When people think of boxing, they see it as a male-dominated sport,” says Tryhuba. But she sees a place for females in the ring, too. “Going in as a woman, it helps me be confident and build strength. And you know what? It makes me feel like a badass.”

Fellow graduate Em Lamache (Personal Fitness Trainer ’16) says one of the most empowering benefits of fitness is the feeling of “autonomy over your own body.”

“There’s something really beautiful about understanding what your body is capable of doing,” he says.

Lamache specializes in training LGBTQ clients through programs that address some of the unique needs of the community. For transgender clients, that can mean tailoring exercises to physiological changes that happen during hormone therapy. The changes he sees in his clients aren’t just physical.

“There’s something really beautiful about understanding what your body is capable of doing.”

“We create leaders through [exercise] and we create people with a thicker skin who will be able to rise to challenges they’ll be faced with,” he says.

In a world where marginalized groups are often targets of harassment and discrimination, confidence and improved self-worth help overcome challenges.

“Pushing yourself physically to achieve something, like a pull-up, is the direct application of your willpower. That willpower can be applied in any other aspect of your life.”

“Boxing gives me courage”

Tryhuba says if she runs into a dangerous situation outside of the gym, she has the physical and mental power to defend herself – and so do her clients. “Boxing gives me courage. It gives me self-esteem.”

Regardless of the type, exercise can lead to opportunities. Lamache turned breaking a sweat into becoming a leader in Edmonton’s fitness community, in which he has run inclusive LGBTQ exercise classes with Edmonton Men’s Health Collective.

“Since I started focusing on exercise in my daily life, I’ve developed a willpower that I didn’t have before,” he says.

Tryhuba encourages people to make the time for fitness, see where it takes them and what they can accomplish.

“Stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing your boundaries is great. That leaves people feeling invincible.”

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