The Personal Trainer: Djuan Means

Djuan Means, is a certified personal trainer and owner of By Any Means Fitness, LLC. He’s a former college football player and has been personal training since 2006. Means is based in Louisville, Kentucky. For addition information, please visit byanymeansfitness.com

What are the most common concerns with men when it comes to body image?

Men fear that women will find them unattractive or that compared to other men, they just don’t look good enough. Some of the most fit people I’ve encountered have the worst body image issues. They feel like they’ve never done enough work in the gym, or that the person at the weight bench next to them looks just a little better than they do.

The chest and stomach come up most often in conversation.

From your observations, how does body image affect the way a man conducts his life?

Men are less confident when they have poor body image, resulting in them being afraid to approach women, anxious about an inability to compete with the next athlete because of size, or just unhappy about their body because they desire to see a different reflection in the mirror. Having a negative body image prevents men from reaching their full potential.

Is age a factor? If so why?

Younger men seem to be more conscious of their body image. Perhaps they’re more likely to be influenced by the buff images of their peers in the media and feel pressured to live up to those standards. Though there are fewer of such images of older men floating around, some older men fall into the category as well, particularly if a nice body gets them things they had in their younger years, like younger women!

Can you describe some cases in which a man had poor body image but with your help, overcame it?

I’m a personal trainer, so it’s my mission to help people become healthier and look better physically. However, as I work with individual clients, I learn their struggles, and body image always comes up, whether it’s someone who is morbidly obese or an elite athlete. One client in particular avoided swimming and wearing the types of clothes he desired because of his insecurities with his body. After working with him for six months, he informed me that his experience with me transformed the way he felt about his body and pushed him to become his best self, physically and mentally. As his body began changing he became comfortable with engaging in outdoor activities with his family.

How do you think men handle body image differently than women?

Men hide their body image issues. They don’t discuss it amongst their friends in the way that women do. Negative body image issues rarely come up in their favorite magazines.

What are the benefits of an improved body image when it comes to “the self?”

A positive body image breaks down barriers. As I train people to become physically fit, I make a point to encourage, motivate, and positively reinforce, taking it a step beyond the physical to the emotional. I operate under the premise that being your best self is the key to a happier, healthier life. When you feel good about yourself, that confidence radiates to everything and everyone you touch.

Why do you think people in general have such a difficult time with their appearance?

We’re infiltrated with images of people with extraordinary bodies that, from the outside looking in, seem perfect. These media and social influences translate to the idea that you must be ‘perfect’ in order to be desirable. The problem is that no matter how hard an individual works, some looks are unachievable. Instead of trying to become their own best self, people find imperfections because they can’t achieve a certain look.

Other than fitness, how can someone improve body image?

A positive body image extends beyond the physical. It’s a holistic mindset. Men faced with body image issues have to learn how to become comfortable with who they are and how they look. No two bodies are the same, so getting out of the comparative mindset and learning to embrace your own body is imperative.

Do you have any unusual stories?

A perfect illustration of going against nature and pursuing a body that’s not for you is an obsession I had with my own calves. Biceps a go, six packs a go, but those pesky calves, I just couldn’t build them up. It took years for me to get past the fact that due to genetics, I would never have big calves. When I come across clients with body obsessions, I can give my own personal account to help them get past things they just can’t change.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I worked with a client who embodied the word confident. To the outside world, he was overweight, but other than that, he had it going on. A big personality, great home, great car, great family. Everything everyone else wants. At the beginning of our relationship, it seemed that the only reason he hired me was to help him avoid some of the health problems that plagued his family. He knew he was on his way to those same issues. But as our relationship grew, and I really got to know him, all of his insecurities began coming to the forefront. Although he didn’t show it, he hated the way he looked and faced an internal battle every single day. He showed me that as a personal trainer, I have to try to unlock those issues and help my clients overcome them.

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Copyright Ark Stories 2011

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