Jessie Rard joins us again this week with tips on exercising and workouts to build and emphasize your curves. Last week’s blog was all about building angles and breadth, so this week is about softer, more fluid lines. Jessie (He/They,) is a trans/nonbinary circus artist, and personal trainer. He came out in 2013 and finished his transition in 2016. Jessie loves existing at the crossroads of two very niche communities (trans folks + circus artists) and being able to support both. They teach flexibility and weightlifting through their company, Twisted Fox Training. Outside of work Jessie loves gardening, foraging, and cooking.
Gettin' Curvy: Workouts for Flexibility, Strength, and BOOTY
As someone who transitioned towards the more masculine side of non-binary, I would never presume to tell someone how to exist as a woman or femme. There are so many ways to exist in this world, and so many ways to feel and express your femininity. No matter what society says, ALL of them are valid.
What I do have is 20 years of experience being raised and socialized as female, and I understand a lot of the pressures women face. Western beauty standards and rigid adherence to the gender binary harm us all, but girls, women, and femmes carry most of the burden of harm from this.
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. The concept of what a beautiful body looks like changes with time, geography, and even who is in power politically. Concepts of what a beautiful feminine body looks like are especially varied across cultures and decades.
Not every cis woman looks like a runway model. Women, cis and trans, come in all shapes and sized. Feminine comes in all shapes, sizes, and expressions. These are all Olympians – elite athletes in peak condition for their sport – and their body diversity is incredible. Even still, the most recent summer and winter Olympics rivaled this image in both body and gender diversity, and each pales in comparison to the amazing diversity that exists in the world.
Your Goals For Your Transition
Navigating body image and expression can be particularly difficult for gender diverse and transgender people. Not only are we navigating cultural and societal norms, exploring and expressing our personal style, but also dealing with dysphoria. ‘Passing’ as cisgender should not be the main goal of every transition, but passing privilege, and safety, are both real and can be important considerations.
Any reason for wanting to change your body is valid. You may be working to combat dysphoria, gain strength, access safety in passing, feel more at home in your body, improve mental health, or more. Exercise and movement can play an important role in all of those reasons.
So, here are some thoughts about amplifying and expressing femininity through body and movement. Take what feels relevant to your expression or transition and leave the rest.
Flexibility, Grace, and STRENGTH
A lot of the time, femininity is associated with litheness, which is defined as thin, supple, and graceful. I’m going to go ahead and throw thinness out the window. It’s 2022, I’m not about diet culture, and I don’t have time for anything other than body positivity. Flexibility and gracefulness are things you can practice and improve.
As a professional flexible person, I can tell you that both flexibility and grace take STRENGTH. It’s my job to get more cis women, trans folks, and naturally flexible people to start picking up weights. So, if you are someone who is considering ditching the weights to aid your transition or passability, DON’T!
Moving gracefully requires control over your body and muscles and that takes serious STRENGTH. Ballet dancers, gymnasts, aerialists, and pole dancers – some of the most graceful and awe-inspiring athletes and performers around – have the strength to not only accomplish mind-bending feats, but to make it look effortless. They are also strong through a very large range of movement.
Western beauty standards emphasize butts and boobs right now. Breasts can be emphasized with padding, breast forms, estrogen, and surgery, but workouts only target the muscle underneath. The booty however, can be targeted and built up through exercise.
Butts are such a big part of pop culture right now, that at this point it’s not just ladies who are looking to amp up their rear. You may not get a Cardi B or Kim K peach at the gym, but thankfully you don’t have to save up for surgery to build a nice booty.
Gym bros might be skipping leg day, but in the circus we say every day is glute day. When you want to build larger muscles with a focus on aesthetics and not just strength, don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Unless you have a fancy home-gym setup, the most effective workouts are going to be at a gym where you have access to equipment and weights. Gyms can be intimidating, but don’t have to be! Search Queer Doc’s directory to find a trans-friendly gym in your area.
Try incorporating some of the following exercises in your workouts: Squat, deadlift, hip thrust, step up. Try 3-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions, using what feels like a medium amount of weight for your strength and ability. Moderate intensity means you should feel like you have some gas left in the tank at the end of your workouts.
Alternate heavier lifting days with lighter, non-gym, workouts that target smaller accessory muscles like the side glute to help fill out everything aesthetically and functionally. Try this short follow-along side glute burner: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CKP1Y7TA3Sl/
Find more booty focused exercises in this playlist: (also embedded below): https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrIet6BWKb962HYQtCpGrjxkcvgTTegCh
Heels! For long legs and a lifted booty
Heels are wonderful and terrible. Heels can help you show off your legs, lift your butt, and express your sense of style. They are also known for being a pain in the feet, ankles, and knees. If you want to start wearing heels there are ways to avoid some of the pain associated with them. Strengthen your feet, ankles, calves, and knees to rock your favorite heels without having to switch to flats an hour later.
A note on food and exercise
So many coaches and personal trainers talk about food and diet even though it is not within our scope of practice. If you need specific advice make sure to go to a registered dietician instead. That being said, there are some important things I believe need to be said. If you are someone who likes to be active or work out you need to EAT. Our trans community already suffers from a higher rate of eating disorders, please join me in beating the statistic. Fuel yourself, your bodies, and your workouts. And if you are taking hormones, having a little extra body fat for estrogen to redistribute will only help you grow your curves.
Final words of Advice
Whether for strength or aesthetics, training is a long process. Results come in months and years, not days. So find a gym buddy, a good support system, and just keep going. Training and transitioning can be so similar, it is a process that can feel like such a long road and you will have plenty of ups and downs along the way. Be sure you have a support system, both your queer community and the allies in your life. Fill your social media with trans positivity, body positivity, support, and diversity. You are not alone.
Here are some of the queer women and femmes I love following:
Moscato Sky, Alana McLaughlin, Alina Rose, Laura Jane Grace, and Jari Jones.