Based in Philadelphia, i'm on a mission to help you use fitness as a method of empowerment: 

expand.
explore.
Experiment.

"Muscles are the best accessory."

"Muscles are the best accessory."

Life is seasonal.

I say that all the time, and what I mean by that is, to quote The Byrds, to everything there is a season: there are times we go hard in the gym, times we’re meal prepping like crazy, times we need to go inward for self-care, times we party, times we vacation, times we buckle down and work really hard, etc.

Especially in our individual journeys to health and self-awareness, I believe we all go through a winding path with predictable stops along the way.

Many of us grow up playing a sport or dancing or engaging in some form of organized activity. We get to a certain level where we stop, whether that’s due to injury or realizing we don’t really love it or we’ll never be the next FloJo or whatever. We fall out of love with movement, and many of us neglect our physical bodies, whether that’s for a short period of time or forever. Eventually, we all feel kinda crappy, try to hop back on the train, and do the stereotypical meal prep in Tupperware + magazine/Instagram program, don’t see results, and end up back where we started (or worse).

Sooner or later, we all get to a point where we’re exhausted of this or that plan and just want to love what we see in the mirror and how we feel on a day-to-day basis again. We realize that the plan written for the generic magazine reader doesn’t take into account our real lives, and we begin the hunt for what will work for us: a plan that we can easily adapt to our schedules, to our desires, to our joys.

This can be a thorny and painful process (it was for me). To find what brings us joy and lights us up, by definition, means we’re going to discover some things that don’t. No need to panic and give up! Part of the process. For me and for many of my clients, it also requires getting a leeeettle (or a lot) uncomfortable to discover what it actually is that’s holding us back, whether that’s a belief that we’ll never have the bodies of our dreams, the fact that we don’t want to actually put the work in to change our habits (that ish is hard, you guys, so not meant to knock anyone), or the part where we’re terrified that if we gain some muscle and strength, our partners or friends or society in general might not like it and tell us we’re too big or too much.

That last one is a biggie.

As you know, I don’t believe in such a thing. ;) Because, one, we won’t gain 30lbs of muscle in a few weeks or from some barbell work. Promise. But, bigger, because #WonderWomanLoading calls us to abandon that shrink-to-fit mentality if it’s not in line with our beliefs. Because I believe that as powerful, complete people, we’re the boss of our bodies (and lives). It’s no one else’s business how we choose to look, eat, feel, exercise, speak, work, engage, love, or any of it; we get to make those choices for ourselves.

And I’ll level you up one more, because that’s what I do: for most of us, the fear of rejection and/or abandonment is very real (especially by those closest to us), and often a trigger to either step back into shrink mode or lash out in anger. But I’d challenge you to realize that avoiding our triggers – sidestepping the things that force us to deal with our own shit – makes us weaker. It’s understandable, and it’s okay to set aside for when we’re ready, but, ultimately, to become our best selves, we must willingly expose ourselves to what we’re afraid of in order to get stronger, physically and mentally (you know, the overload principle for muscles – we can’t keep doing the exact same thing week in and week out and expect to grow? Works for personal development, too.).

The season of growth is my favorite one, including the thorny patches. And when I went inward during one such season and discovered that, yes, I want to be strong, and I want muscles, and I want this lifting thing to fit in my life rather than having to overhaul my life for it to fit, no matter what anyone else thinks of it, things changed. Drastically.

And I’d argue that they will for you, too.

My friend Jen Sinkler has repeatedly said, “muscles are the best accessory.” And I have to agree. Nothing upgrades your look, or provides the impetus for confidence (even if we don’t feel the part initially!), or plays the role of catalyst in discussions on badassery where we need to hold our own like a good set of muscles can. Delts, quads, lats – whichever are your favorite, they’re all dope. And they all instill us with the gusto to take on the challenges that life presents every day.

When we realize that we’ve put in a ton of work – we’ve done hard shit to get these quads; we’ve done the detective work to find what way of eating works for us and eaten well; we’ve made ourselves a priority in a world that’s telling us to do everything but – we realize that the next challenge at work, the next tense relationship discussion, the next snag in a friendship, the next financial setback, is really NBD. We’ve figured out challenges before, and have the physical mass (because, hello, muscles take up space, and that’s OURS. Own it.) to prove it, so we can do it again. And again. And again. No matter how many times life asks us to, we have tangible evidence that we can get down and dirty – get gritty and get in the mud and fight it out.

Life is seasonal, yes. And every season presents an opportunity to grow, one way or another, whether that’s growing in our capacity to prioritize and rest, growing in our ability to care for others, or growing physically. Try on some muscles for size: you’ll instantly level up your look...and your life.

If you’d like a good place to start, I released an 8w strength + hypertrophy program last month! If you’re new to the list, didn’t get it, and want it, drop your email in the comments (or email me at steph@strongbysteph.com) and I’ll send it to ya (it’s $0, just spreading the love of muscles). :*

"I have a strong desire to feel supported and feel like I belong." Sound like you? Me too.

"I have a strong desire to feel supported and feel like I belong." Sound like you? Me too.

Sweat it out, or stay home? (Alternate subject: allergies are the worst. Hey spring! ✨😷)

Sweat it out, or stay home? (Alternate subject: allergies are the worst. Hey spring! ✨😷)

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