A Conversation with Jamie Carbaugh, a weight-neutral personal trainer:
How do you define “exercise”? How would your experience of moving be if you replaced the word exercise with movement? At Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition and Yoga, we strive to guide our clients to use more weight neutral language in effort to change their relationship with both food and exercise. What once had been enjoyable exercise can becomes an avenue to burn calories, a requirement to feed oneself, and or the only way to manage uncomfortable feelings. This can lead to an exercise addiction or an exercise compulsion. Below, our RD, Rebecca Jaspan, interviews a personal trainer who approaches health and fitness with more a mindful and weight neutral philosophy. Read about her approach and consider if training with Jamie or another trainer who understands Health At Every Size, may be right for you.
Rebecca Jaspan: I connected with Jamie Carbaugh, a weight-neutral personal trainer and the founder of Fitragamuffin. Jamie redefines the traditional role of a personal trainer, helping her clients get stronger while bringing joy to her training sessions and classes. She truly meets her clients where they are at in their fitness journeys and takes the focus off of weight loss and places it on finding joy in moving their body. I sat down with Jamie to chat more about her weight-neutral approach and philosophy.
Rebecca: Tell me about yourself
Jamie: I started as a Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) working in geriatrics in a Skilled Nursing Facility. I have also been a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for the past 10 years. My background as a PTA helps me tailor workouts specifically to my client and meet them where they are at. We are a military family, so we have moved around a lot. I lived in Germany and created a community teaching Zumba classes, then we moved to Oklahoma, we are currently in Washington State and getting ready to move back to Germany.
Rebecca: What got you interested in weight-inclusive fitness?
Jamie: When I started growing a Zumba community in Germany, I loved that Zumba brought people who were nervous about going to the gym or felt that the gym was an unsafe place for them due to weight stigma. At the same time, many people who came to class had their spouses redeployed and were very stressed. I saw how powerful it was to have an hour away from real life, engage in joyful movement, and make the connection between community and movement.
Rebecca: What specific ways do you train differently?
Jamie: I don’t take any weights or measurements. The only time I will comment on the body if in relation to form or function and I try to give my clients real life applications for the movements. I help shift the mindset from how the body looks to how the body feels. I also allow rest, I consider myself a “rest pusher”. Many of my clients have a hard time resting and I show them that rest is needed. I teach movement however the client shows up that day and that “modify” isn’t a bad word, its neutral and it might look different each week. Many people feel the term “exercise” is rigid, inflexible, they may hate it. We play with the word “movement” and it becomes more about listening and trusting your body.
Rebecca: On your website you talk about the big space between “go big or go home”. Tell me more about the space.
Jamie: There is so much nuance and I try to reframe the mindset. It’s not go to the gym for an hour or not at all. I ask my clients, “what do you want to be capable of?” and we figure out how to make it easier and enjoyable.