I am so honoured to interview Brooke Van Ryssel, owner of My Body Fitness + Nutrition, a body inclusive fitness + nutrition company in Winnipeg. I’ve followed her feed since she launched and fell in love with her infectious positive attitude, kind educational style and passion for making people feel better in their skin. I’ve learned so much from her just from following her on instagram and was lucky enough to have her model at a few of our photo shoots, so I wanted to pick her brain a bit more and share with you some thoughts she has on self-love + body positivity.
I’d love to know a little more about your journey to launching this incredible business, what inspired you to start My Body?
Aside from the main reason of recognizing the need for an inclusive space within a notoriously exclusive industry especially for those who exist in marginalized bodies and identities...Part of what inspired me to start My Body and open up the group fitness gym and community space was my own personal struggles with disordered relationships with food and movement which mainly developed from being in toxic health and fitness environments. Me discovering the body positivity movement that was created by fat black women and created for all marginalized folx, was really a catalyst in my unlearning and my escape from diet culture. Continually learning from this incredible community inspired me to leave the toxic fitness environments I was in and start unlearning and relearning how to eat and live intuitively. My journey continues, but with the creation of My Body I am so fortunate to live in an environment that nurtures my growth towards loving my whole dang self.
Apart from what's already been said above...
My intention was for it to be an intentionally safe space for all humans and all bodies. Where every single human who walks through our doors knows that they are welcome and celebrated exactly as they are. We are Body Positive, Fat Positive, diet culture free, advocates for mental health, feminist, anti-racism, anti-ableism, and allies of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Unlike the traditional gym model My Body’s focus is not on aesthetics but rather how you feel and what you are capable of, because there are so many other reasons to move and nourish your body that have nothing to do with its appearance.
My Body is an intentionally safe space for ALL humans to sweat, laugh, learn and grow together in a truly judgement free environment, all because they love their bodies. We are committed to making real change in and outside of the industry with My Body, celebrating diversity through inclusion and actively working to help as many people as possible to accept and love their bodies.
My Body House Rules:
- All Bodies Are Welcome
- Zero Tolerance Policy for Body Shaming or Discrimination of any kind.
- Smash Beauty Standards
- Crush Diet Culture
- Lift Each Other Up
What are some of your favourite types of self care?
Spending time with loved ones, watching a fave show on Netflix, Joyful Movement, and eating a food that is my favourite or trying new foods!
What would you recommend to people who feel like they could use some self care but aren’t sure where to start for themselves?
I would say, look for what brings you joy and pleasure in your life. Whether that's certain people or activities. Start there and create a routine. It’s always much simpler than you think...self care doesn’t have to be elaborate bubble baths and face masks, it can be as simple as calling a friend who makes you feel seen.
If someone has never heard the term or movement for “body positivity”, how would you explain it to them?
Body Positivity is a social political justice movement created by fat black women for all people whose bodies are marginalized in our current society. It was made to advocate for folx that exist in marginalized bodies to receive respect, celebration, and most importantly human rights. This movement began to create a safe space for folx who experience oppression every day simply due to the way their bodies look.
Do you have any top suggestions or advice for those struggling to love their body as it is?
You don’t actually have to love the way your body looks in order to accept it and know that it deserves respect. Loving your body actually has nothing to do with loving the way it looks, the way it looks is irrelevant.
Start by bringing focus to what your body does for you. (Keeping you alive, and moving your through this world). Also, understand that every negative thing you’ve ever been told about your body does not come from a place of truth, but from a place of conditioning. Your body is the least interesting thing about you. It’s literally just the skin bag full of structure, goo, and your glorious soul.
I LOVE following your wise (and often sprinkled with hilariousness) posts on instagram and learning to expand my viewpoint around the subject of body positivity and health, especially to change my language to be more inclusive or kind or ways to support other people who may not have the same body privilege I do. Do you have some suggestions for those wanting to learn more about this topic for themselves or to support other communities? (could be other instagram accounts, books, etc.).
SO MANY...Top faves right now:@decolonizing_fitness
@Lindo Bacon (on facebook)
Health at Every Size - Lindo Bacon (may still be listed as Linda Bacon online, they changed their name)
The Body is Not an Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor
Body Positive Power - Megan Jayne Crabbe
SO many more...But this is a good starting point.
Thanks so much to Brooke for sharing her insights; for me working in the intimates industry has exposed self-judgements I didn't know I had about myself and I have appreciated the journey I've been on myself to love my body more. Check out more from Brooke at @mybodywpg and mybodywpg.ca.
Pin me for a quick link to your favs or to send a hint 😉👇🏻