Elijah Parker, Cross Trainer, Makes Fitness More Inclusive

Elijah Parker, Cross Trainer, Makes Fitness More Inclusive

Celeste Sloman

my fitness journey It started in my late twenties in 2008 and broke out due to my need to get gender affirming medical care. My gender classification at birth did not match the reality I felt internally. Society viewed me as a woman because of my curves and treated me like that. So I decided to regain my physical independence and redefine my gender by highlighting more masculine aesthetics.

Unfortunately, my doctor asked me to lose weight (which was not based on any medical diagnosis) in order to engage in hormone replacement therapy. She even prescribed me diet pills that caused severe constipation after taking them for only one week. Living in a conservative, rural country during this period resulted in a very limited number of physicians who were educated in ways to provide appropriate care for transgender patients. The phobia of fats I experienced is also rooted in the medical industry and perpetuated by its presenters.

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I also decided to research personal training services and ended up interviewing several personal trainers. I specifically told them, “I am trans and would like to make my body masculine.” They were all rude and unwilling to support me. They’d tell me things like, “You’ll always be a woman; you’re just fat. You need to lose weight.” With my background in physical therapy and my knowledge of muscle anatomy – how to move and train the body – I decided I could do it on my own.

“My body is a beautiful, multi-layered and intricate reflection of all that humanity can embrace.”

So, in 2014, she started Forseca Fitness, a mobile personal training service created to help reshape the world of fitness for transgender people – especially black people. My job has been to highlight the complexities and barriers we face in the mainstream fitness culture, while building new, more supportive systems to replace them. This extended to the education center, Decolonizing Fitness, a resource center that people can visit when they first enter the fitness industry. I educate people about detoxing from toxic diet and fitness culture. I do my best to show people that the world is putting pressure on you. It’s not necessarily something you’re doing wrong or your body is wrong.

Elijah Parker

Celeste Sloman

It’s a daily struggle for me to feel comfortable in my body. Societal expectations about how my body should look and move are challenging, including assumptions based on my race, size, height, and gender. I feel more at peace with my body because of what I know, how I have been able to support people, and the fact that people come and ask for my specific services. I always enjoy working with my clients because I watch them develop a more healing relationship with movement and their bodies.

How I feel about my body really is swinging and flowing day in and day out, minute by minute sometimes. I have chronic back and shoulder pain and there are some mornings when I wake up in such deep pain that I have to separate my mind from my body just to do a daily errand. If my pain subsides, I can go back to my body and connect with all of my senses again. Also, gender recognition can completely change my mood and cause me severe depression.

I feel like my body is perfect because it shows but it has to show up any day. My body represents the breadth of gender and a society bent on organizing us according to the gender binary of men and women. My body is a beautiful, multi-layered and intricate reflection of all that humanity can embrace. —As told to Keith Nelson Jr.

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This story appeared in the October 2022 issue of men’s health.

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