Dressing Joyfully Fitness Personal Style Plus Size style

5 Things I Learned as a Fitness Pro That Helped Me Become a Better Personal Stylist

A group of women sitting on top of a blue mat.


I recently retired as a Fit 4 Two® Pre and Postnatal Fitness Trainer. For just over a decade, I had the pleasure of walking with women on their motherhood journey. It was a blast celebrating, as well as commiserating, about pregnancy and the early years of parenting. And while it was a rewarding career, I found the further I got from my own childbearing years, the more I feel it was time to pass the torch.

Of course, this life milestone stirred up a myriad of emotions. I reflected on how far I’d come and where I want to go in the future. If I knew then what I know now…blah, blah, blah. I also thought how a few poignant lessons about fitness training have taught me about people and life, and how I can bring that insight to my personal styling clients.

5 Things I Learned as a Fitness Pro That Helped Me Become a Better Stylist

Everyone Has Their Own Motive  

Back when I was a rookie fitness trainer, I quietly assumed losing the baby weight was a priority of all the moms in my postnatal classes. In reality, however, everyone had her own reason for being there. It was truly an “Aha!” moment when a stroller fitness participant shared that her goal was to finish her next half marathon. Another in the same class shared her goal was to easily get off the floor after playing with her child. Both were dead serious, driven and, after a great amount of hard work, successful. 

Just as we have our individual motives for working out, we each have our own conscious or unconscious motives for dressing a certain way. Some people dress to set themselves apart. They want to stand out – a little or a lot – and be noticed for the purpose of career advancement, romance, self-expression, etc. Appearing unique and interesting brings them joy. I know now not everyone who hires a personal stylist wants to stand out, though. Conversely, they may want to NOT stand out. Some prefer to blend in and avoid calling potentially negative attention to themselves. Dressing to simply fit in is their goal. A feeling of belonging is what brings them joy. 

 For the Love of _____ !

There are a million more compelling reasons to be active than lowering your BMI. Reframing your reasons to exercise can have significant and lasting effects to your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Working out as a way of honouring your body, is infinitely more satisfying than working out to punish yourself for a night of bingeing. Moving our bodies to music is invigorating. Lifting heavy things makes us feel fierce. Hiking up a hill for the love of nature is considerably more gratifying than hiking to get the-weekly-recommended-150-minutes-of-moderate-aerobic-activity. 

There are also a million better reasons to nurture your personal style than keeping up with the latest trends. Giving attention to your personal style is an act of self-love that builds confidence and body positivity. Dressing for the love of self-expression, colour and fashion enriches our lives and fosters creativity. Choosing to wear clothes that celebrate who we are is far more empowering than dressing to hide our perceived flaws.

Where the Magic Happens

One of my favourite things to do as a stylist and as a trainer is to push clients a little further than they would push themselves. This is the main reason they come. In fitness, fashion, and life, the magic happens outside our comfort zone.

When we are nearing the end of our sweaty session, I often tell my boot camp or spin class to “Give ‘er here if you have anything left to give!” I don’t want anyone going home regretting they had not worked a bit harder. I also want them to realize they are capable of more than they think. Is there anything more rewarding than outdoing yourself?

Comparatively, I will nudge clients outside their clothing comfort zone with items they would not have chosen themselves. They may experience anxiety, but ultimately they want us to take them to that scary yet wonderful place where transformation occurs. 

Take a Risk

Mixing up your regular routine helps you learn new skills and prevents overuse injury. Keeping it fresh prevents boredom. The trouble is, stepping into the gym or onto the field or onto the paddle board for the first time can be daunting. You might feel self-conscious, fearful and out-of-place until you learn the rules and practice the moves. However, you might just find you’re a natural, and delight in your new favourite pastime. A variety of experiences and an open mind will keep you young at heart.

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. ~Erica Jong

Sometimes taking a fashion risk is exactly what you need to bust out of a style rut. It doesn’t need to be an extreme risk to set the wheels moving. Try a new colour, wear a print, half-tuck your shirt, roll your cuffs. It might seem weird at first, but have fun experimenting. It’s only clothing, for goodness sake! Seriously, what’s the worst that can happen?

Two people posing for a picture in front of a crowd.

Taking a risk. I was definitely out of my comfort zone climbing walls, crawling through mud under barbed wire and leaping over fire at the Warrior Dash. No regrets.

Dress the Part

The adage “Dress for success” can apply to athletic pursuits as well as career aspirations and even romance. Studies show what you wear affects your performance. This phenomenon is called “enclothed cognition” and refers to the mental shift experienced when sporting certain clothes.  You may feel smarter, more confident, more powerful. It’s not just about how others perceive you, it’s how you perceive yourself.

If you want to be the boss, you have to dress like a boss. If you want to be an athlete, wearing athletic gear helps put you in that winning mindset.

Louise Green, the author of Big Fit Girl, says athletes come in all sizes and shapes. Unfortunately, most fitness magazines and the athletic wear industry did not get the memo. We were excited to learn Fabletics, an activewear brand that offers gorgeous, colourful and modern styles, carries up to size 18. Now more women can benefit from high-performance athletic wear and sweat in style.

It’s Never Too Late to Up Your Fitness Level or Style Game

Don’t let your dreams be dreams! No more sitting on the sidelines for you. Wherever you are on your journey, fitness and style can change your life. Contact The Joy of Style today. We’re your personal style coaches and we’re here to cheer you on. 





Two people posing for a picture in front of a sign.

Ryder and Dee Clarke (Dee admittedly loathes running, but she will do it if it includes colour bombs and playing with her son.)











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*this post was sponsored by Fabletics, but all opinions are my own.





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  • Sela
    January 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Congrats on your 10 years anniversary. I think is is amazing how you have blended styling, and pre/post natal fitness training together. What a novel concept. I too believe that what you wear affects your performance. Perception is everything. Good job!!

    • Dee Clarke
      January 28, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Thank you, Sela. It’s been quite a ride and I have met a lot of amazing women along the way.

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